Man told officer 'I hope you're f***ing proud of yourself' after being forced to strip

Merseyside Police has apologised for a harrowing incident in which officers “humiliated” a man by forcing him to strip.

Lee Evans, from Liverpool, said the “horrible” incident still sticks with him to this day. The 68-year-old, who is transgender, was visiting one of the region’s police stations as his then-girlfriend had been arrested on suspicion of possession and was being bailed.

The pensioner claims when he arrived at the station, a drug squad officer told him to “follow me." What happened next, Lee claims sent his gender dysphoria into “crisis”.

READ MORE: Teenager beaten to death at house party will leave lasting legacy

READ MORE: 'Decades of mistreatment and trauma won’t be undone by an apology'

Lee shared his experience as part of the Apologise Now! campaign, which this week saw Chief Constable Serena Kennedy deliver an apology to the LGBTQ+ community. She said she recognised her force’s “over-policing” of the previously established legislation had “ruined lives” and a “lasting negative impact”.

Lee said: “The officer took me into a room and he’s interviewing me across the table. He lost his temper, he leaned over the table and I had a college scarf on at the time, he got it and twisted it. He said ‘You b*** little b****** and give me a mouthful.

“I was pretty much used to that, I took that on the chin. He went ‘get up’ and said 'Now strip’. I said ‘I won't’. He said, ‘I said strip’.

“He was fuming, so he left the room. He stood up with a cob on and within minutes he was back with a uniformed officer - a big fella.

“This officer comes towards me, really menacingly, and he said, ‘Now I said strip’. You kind of know when you’re beaten, don’t you? So I stripped. I was pre-surgery and back in the day trans men couldn’t buy binders, so I wore crepe bandages to bind down with.

Merseyside Police Chief Constable Serena Kennedy. Photo by Colin Lane
Merseyside Police Chief Constable Serena Kennedy. -Credit:Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo

“So when I stripped I was stood there with this bandage on. They knew what they had done. They knew what they were doing was wrong. Smirking at me, he went ‘Now take that off as well’.

“Obviously I did. I took it off and basically, just gripped it in my hand and I flung it at them and I said ‘Well I hope you’re f****** proud of yourself’. It was a horrible experience.”

Lee, who was in his early 20s when it happened, said he felt “completely trapped and powerless” at the time. He added: “I was absolutely profoundly humiliated. It sent my dysphoria into crisis and it left me like that for quite some time afterwards.”

The Apologise Now! campaign, set up by activist Peter Tatchell and backed by Birkenhead’s Paul O’Grady before his death, calls on police forces up and down the country to consider their historic homophobia.

Peter Tatchell's campaign was backed by comedian and TV presenter Paul O'Grady before his death.
Peter Tatchell's campaign was backed by comedian and TV presenter Paul O'Grady before his death. -Credit:Peter Tatchell Foundation

Merseyside Police Force is the 18th in the UK to offer an apology to the community, including Lee, and recognise homophobic victimisation. You can read the force's full apology statement here.

Lee sees this now as a chance for him to move forward and hopes others in the community do so too.

He said: “To some extent, I agree the apology is long overdue. I also feel actions speak louder than words and I have got to give it to Merseyside Police, they have really put the work in.

“I have witnessed the progress and the changes they have made and I believe 100% they are sorry and they are determined to make sure none of those things happen again. Lessons have been learnt and a line has been drawn.”

Sign up for the ECHO’s LGBTQIA+ newsletter