Editors' Note: Guest blogger Jane Fae is a writer, journalist and activist in the field of sexual rights. Over the last few years, Jane's focus has been on issues of policing and the law, civil liberties and censorship in the internet age.
Anger is building within the UK's trans community today following reports that heavy-handed security during Friday's royal wedding led to at least two trans individuals being sexually assaulted - by the police.
Allegations are still to be tested, but those familiar with the UK's policing record over the last few years - bouncing from over-soft to ludicrously heavy in response to political pressures from on high - suspect there may well be more than a smidgeon of truth in the story.
As the world looked on through rose-tinted spectacles, here and there in London, small groups of protesters gathered to contrast, in mostly good-natured fashion, the opulence of the royal ceremony with the reality of swingeing public services cuts across the rest of the UK. Radical street theatre, left-wing poetry readings and a zombie flashmob party organised by members of the UK's gender queer community, in Soho Square, at the heart of LGBT London, were just some of the events on the royalty sceptic agenda.
The police (London's Metropolitan force, or "the Met", as they are more commonly known) were not amused. They invoked fairly draconian powers (s60) that enabled them to stop and search anyone, without the safeguard that those in the US would know as "reasonable cause". They also arrested people, taking them off the street temporarily and then releasing them without charge, by adapting some fairly antiquated laws around "breach of the peace".
Examples of things that might have got you arrested on Friday? Possession of a tube of paint. Possession of a leaflet. Or in one instance, apparently, possession of that most dangerous of weapons: a pen. Broadly speaking, the police seemed to be continuing a pattern established at recent more violent demonstrations: coming down hard on those protesting peacefully and with wit; tip-toeing away from anyone better organised and more violent.
All of which sets the stage for the alleged sexual assault of a trans man, Logan Le'Belle, and a trans woman, as described in an initial piece in Lesbilicious and in the blog fanoffury. They arrived early to take place in the flashmob zombie party, saw that police were dispersing it, and decided to walk on by. It made no difference. They were spotted by a group of 6 police officers, consisting of five male and 1 female officer who then proceeded to stop and search them.
Logan described the experience thus: "When searching my person the female police officer said to me 'Okay, I'm going to feel under your bra now', to which I replied 'That's not a bra.'"
"At this point her hands were still on my chest 'What is it then?!' 'A binder' 'Whats a binder?' (At this point, may I point out her hands were still on my chest)." Logan continued, "To this I said 'I'm transgendered.'
"In this time she was feeling my chest way more than she needed to, this entire conversation took place while her hands were going over and around my chest while she held the same quizzical curious expression on her face, whilst she stared at my chest," Logan said. "I can say I was more than uncomfortable."
"She, then, after doing this, and being told I was transgendered, continued to misgender me, as did the rest of the police present."
A second, less intrusive search took place at the police station to which these individuals were removed. Whilst the trans man felt no further insult was delivered, his trans woman companion was "cupped" at least three times in the genital area. Meanwhile, the trans man's crotch remained completely untouched, which, according to him, was fairly odd, given that if either of the pair were concealing anything, as he was wearing very baggy trousers, whilst his companion wore just tight trousers with a rip up the leg.
The story continues to develop. However, there are two further points that need to be made. Contrary to popular view, "intimate body search" is not sanctioned by UK law. This was confirmed earlier this year by the Ministry of Justice in respect of rules issued for the searching of convicted trans prisoners. There is no legal basis for anything other than a simple pat down.
This is confirmed, ironically, by Logan, who explains that he is a fully trained security guard - and that he knows full well the difference between a "pat down" and a "grope". He adds: "when searching a female bodied person you are not allowed to touch their chest, at all with an exception of a running of the backs of the hands down the front, once and nothing more unless you feel something and then you have to ask them to remove it".
His conclusion? He goes on: "I am entirely convinced that the reason we got arrested was because of the fact that we were both trans and both punks, they weren't stopping other people for more than a minute or so. One of which who they didn't even stop, was a man who looked far more suspicious then us."
The Met have been contacted for comment. So far, over 48 hours after the initial request, they have said nothing.