FORT LAUDERDALE — Shelby Kendall, 48, was born a male but identifies as female. She has gotten her gender certified by her doctor and by the state of Florida, which reflects “female” on her driver’s license.
An obstinate police officer, however, made his own judgment in a citation at a traffic stop for Kendall, and his effrontery is making waves.
It all started on January 28th of this year, when Fort Lauderdale Officer James Brinton saw a black Chevrolet Camaro (driven by Kendall) and a Mustang drag racing. He caught up to Kendall in a Winn-Dixie parking lot, put on his lights and approached her car.
Following the usual “license, registration and proof of insurance” transaction, Brinton asked Kendall why the driver’s license listed her as a female. She explained that she identified that way.
“Well, for the purposes of this citation, you’re a male,” Brinton responded.
Apparently, the citations are populated in large part by computer using license records, so Brinton really had to go out of his way to get the citation to read “male.”
The traffic stop was complicated further by Kendall pulling forward a few feet to let out a parked car she had been blocking. Brinton, who was at his patrol car at the time, concluded that Kendall must have been trying to escape and rushed back to her car, demanding that she get out of the vehicle.
An escape attempt, one would think, would be faster and would probably take place sometime prior to the part where Kendall fully cooperated and provided her identification.
Nonetheless, Brinton now found it necessary to handcuff Kendall and search her and her car.
Four days after the incident, Kendall called Internal Affairs at the police department to share her unease with the stop.
“I wasn’t really contesting why I was pulled over,” Kendall explained. “I was more contesting how I was treated.”
Allies have concurred, with LGBT activist Michael Rajner calling for better police training on transgender issues.
“What concerns me is that the officer felt it was not necessary for him to correct the [citation],” he said. “He robbed that individual of her dignity.”
“If I’ve done everything I need to do for the state of Florida to recognize me as a female, he doesn’t have a right to purposely mis-gender me,” Kendall said on Friday. “It was inappropriate and kind of bullying and sends a message to the transgender community.”
Brinton, of course, has trotted out shallow excuses, claiming that he first thought the “female” listing on the license was a mistake and that he couldn’t change the citation after it was saved and printed.
Brinton will face a hearing before the Citizens Police Review Board on Monday over Kendall’s complaint. The department has recommended a simple letter of reprimand for Brinton, but the Review Board will weigh in, with the ultimate decision coming down to the city manager.
To be sure, Brinton’s actions were inappropriate, and with any luck he’ll face the sort of accountability we would hope to see in the offing for any officer of the law acting thusly.
As for Kendall, if this hearing can set a precedent for these sorts of issues, she should be free from having to worry about gender concerns for her next round of reckless drag racing.