It started with a call from a California police station. I was ordered to come in to talk to a detective. When I arrived, an officer put me in a room and told me that a man had made a complaint against me. The officer also told me that he would “get rid of it” if I granted him a “favor.” I said, “Okay,” and he let me go.
That night, the officer picked me up on the street and requested the favor. He wanted oral sex. About fifteen minutes later, he dropped me off. But he said that I had to start “paying rent.” This meant that whenever he came around, I had to give him oral sex. It usually happened in his cop car, in the alley behind the police station.
As long as I paid him in sex, I would be released if I ever got picked up for being a sex worker. I told my Queen Mother*, and she said that we all have to pay rent or go to jail. I felt trapped. The officer would get mad whenever I took a day or two off. I became depressed and stopped answering the phone. I told the officer, “It’s over, I’m not working anymore.” He asked me if I was sure, and I told him I was.
About three months later, I was walking with my boyfriend on a hot summer night. A police car passed, made a U-turn, and then stopped in front of us. I was arrested and they threw the book at me.
I was targeted because I am a black transwoman.
— Diamond, California
*A term meaning a highly respected transgender woman and mentor in the trans communityBack