Trans woman ‘mockingly’ arrested in pink handcuffs, deadnamed and left locked to a pipe just won a major settlement

Emma Powys Maurice
·2-min read

The New York Police Department must retrain its staff after settling a civil rights lawsuit filed by a trans woman they “mockingly” arrested in pink handcuffs.

Linda Dominguez, a 45-year-old cosmetologist, was stopped by police one evening in 2018 when cutting through a park to get to her apartment. Although she was with a group of other individuals, Dominguez was the only one arrested.

Officers told her the park was closed, but she had difficulty understanding them as she speaks limited English. She was taken to speak to a Spanish interpreter at the police station, where she explained that she was transgender and that her legal name was Linda, as shown on a valid state identification card.

According to the lawsuit, the officers then placed her in cell, cuffed her to a pipe with pink handcuffs and left her there all night.

Throughout her detention officers referred to Dominguez by her deadname, laughed at her and referred to her as “he” and “him,” she said.

“The policewoman looked at me as if there was something wrong with me,” she recalled in a YouTube video about the lawsuit in 2019. “They mocked me. ‘That’s a man, that’s not a man, what’s that?'”

Dominguez was arraigned the next day on charges of trespassing for being in the park after hours, as well as false personation, a statutory offence aimed at people who misrepresent their identity to law enforcement officials. The charges were dismissed a few months later.

“I went through so much trauma being arrested in this way,” she said. “It really was a very horrible experience. I was about to take my own life. People who aren’t as strong may take their life if they experience this too. I decided to do this lawsuit so they don’t keep doing this.”

Dominguez’s lawsuit claimed the NYPD wrongly accused her of misrepresenting her identity. She said the arrest caused her “mental anguish, ongoing humiliation and embarrassment” and that she remains afraid of the police.

“I never want anyone to go through the abuse I experienced from people sworn to protect me,” she said. “As an advocate for my community, I couldn’t let this go.”

As part of a settlement agreed on Tuesday, the city was ordered to pay Dominguez $30,000 over the allegations. The NYPD must also give more training on protecting the rights of transgender people and redistribute this guidance to every single officer.