An Atlanta transgender woman is alleging discrimination after Dallas police detained her Monday at Love Field, causing her to miss her flight.
Tegan Marie Smith said she was headed home after visiting family in Dallas. After her 3 p.m. flight was canceled, she and a few passengers waiting for the 6 p.m. flight to Atlanta went to the bar inside the terminal. She said she had two beers and a shot during the three hours, but some passengers were drinking more than she was.
Shortly after she boarded the plane, Smith said a flight attendant walked her off the plane to a group of Dallas police officers, who handcuffed her and detained her for public drunkenness for two hours.
“I couldn’t understand,” she said. “I’d had a little bit to drink over three hours.”
Smith said she wasn’t given a breathalyzer or any other test for drunkenness, but said officers handcuffed her after she confirmed that she’d been drinking.
She thinks she was chosen from the people who were drinking because she’s trans.
“I did believe I was being singled out,” she said.
While being detained, she said officers searched her belongings and discovered her legal name change documents, which she said she carries with her just in case someone questions her identity.
Officers then began to ask her why she would want to change her name from male to female. Upon learning she was trans, she said they asked her questions and wanted her to speak in her old, male voice.
“They were belligerent about why I was transgender,” she said, adding that she eventually complied and told them why she transitioned. “I ended up telling them my life story.”
When they released her two hours later by a taxi cab, she asked them if they had ever had sensitivity training as police officers, and they allegedly told her no.
She spent the night in a hotel and took a noon flight out on Tuesday. She said when she went back to the terminal, two of the airline staffers who witnessed her being detained on Monday apologized, telling her their manager made the flight attendant remove her from the plane.
Detective Laura Martin, DPD’s LGBT liaison, said officers file an information report whenever someone is detained. She said the report about Smith mentions that the pilot of the plane requested Smith be removed from the aircraft.
“If a pilot feels there’s a safety issue with a person on a plane, that person is removed,” Martin said.
Martin noted that DPD has a trans officer who happens to be stationed at the airport, but Smith can file a complaint with DPD’s internal affairs if she felt like something inappropriate was said or done by officers.
Dallas has a citywide ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Smith said she planned to look into filing a complaint under the ordinance.