A New York-based transgender woman is crying foul after being jailed alongside male inmates when she was arrested in Georgia for allegedly exposing her breasts.
Ashley Del Valle tells local NBC affilate WSAV that she felt like she was "being punished for who I was" when she was arrested by Savannah Chatham Metro Police for indecent exposure and disorderly conduct with a police officer. The 38-year-old Queens, N.Y. resident was visiting Savannah with her cousin on vacation.
Although Del Valle is identified on the police report as a woman, her booking photo lists her as a man. Once Del Valle arrived at the jail, officers determined they could "not have put her in a female dorm," according to Chief Deputy Roy Harris, and hence moved to a "unique general population area" surrounded by male inmates.
"They were referring to me as a thing; they were not referring to me as a human being," she said of jail personnel. The male inmates, she added, taunted her with insults.
Among those to decry Del Valle's treatment was Think Progress blogger Zack Ford. "Whatever transgender policy the jail supposedly has, misgendering her and endangering her in such ways did not prioritize her safety nor convey even the most basic respect for her identity," Ford wrote.
Del Valle's case is similar to that of Andrea Jones, a Tennessee-based transgender woman who reportedly went topless in the parking lot of a local DMV after officials refused to change her sex from male to female on her driver's license.
"If I was a male, I had the right to, when I stepped out the door, take off my shirt," Jones explained at the time. "It's not right for the state to ask me to be both male and female. A choice needs to be made. They cannot hold me to both standards."