Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Transsexual cop sues city

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Cincinnati police officer filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the city of Cincinnati, claiming he was demoted from his rank as sergeant because he is a transsexual.

        In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Officer Phillip W. Barnes seeks reinstatement to the position of sergeant and unspecified compensatory damages.

        Officer Barnes, a 19-year veteran of the Cincinnati Police Division, claims in the lawsuit that he was demoted for two reasons: Because he was a transsexual who did not fit the masculine stereotype his supervisors perceived a sergeant should have, and because his supervisory officers were motivated by prejudice against male officers who do not have a heterosexual orientation.

        Officer Barnes, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Desert Storm, was promoted to sergeant on Jan. 24, 1999. He was assigned to District 1 and placed on the standard six months' probation. During his probation, he was subjected to more intense scrutiny by his supervisors than any other sergeant ever had been, the lawsuit states.

        It was widely known throughout the police division that Officer Barnes' sexual orientation was not heterosexual, the lawsuit states, and he was perceived to be bisexual, homosexual, transsexual, or a cross-dresser.

        During his probation several of Officer Barnes' supervisors and co-workers made comments about his sexual activities, appearance, grooming and command presence, the lawsuit states.

        When Officer Barnes was demoted last year, Capt. Vincent Demasi, the District 1 commander who recommended that Officer Barnes fail probation as a sergeant, said that the decision was solely a performance issue and that he was not aware of Officer Barnes' sexual orientation.

        “I don't judge people by sex or color, race or religion. I judge people by performance,” Capt. Demasi said in July 1999.

        A police division report outlining the reasons for the demotion states Officer Barnes cannot write routine reports, has poor judgment in street situations, lacks time-management skills, is untruthful and has no “command presence.”


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