Imprisoned in prejudice

Jenna Taylor, Staff Writer

YouTuber and transgender social media influencer Nikita “Dragun” Nguyen was arrested on Monday, Nov. 7, after law enforcement responded to a complaint at the Goodtime Hotel in Miami, Florida. The staff had called the police, complaining that Nguyen was causing a disturbance at the hotel. TMZ reports that Nguyen walked around the hotel pool naked and gave the staff a “hard time.”After hotel staff repeatedly asked Nikita to stop causing a disturbance, she went back to her hotel room and began playing loud music inside. Security stated that she opened the door “after several knocks,” but when security informed Nguyen she would be asked to leave the hotel if she did not stop, she shut the door in their face. After this interaction, authorities were called, and when they showed up, the police claimed that Nguyen asked security, “Do you want more,” and swung an open bottle of water, which hit and spilled on both the hotel security and the police officer, resulting in the arrest. According to The Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office, Nguyen was charged with felony battery, a misdemeanor for disorderly conduct and a municipal ordinance violation.

In the process of arresting Nguyen, police officers misgendered Nguyen and booked her as a male. Nguyen is revered online for sharing her stories and experiences around being a transgender woman and has been very honest in documenting her transition since her breakthrough into the YouTube space in 2015. For this reason, fans of Nguyen are rightfully outraged by this mistake, as it can be extremely dangerous for a transgender woman to be forced into a men’s prison unit. According to the New York Times, transgender women in men’s prisons are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than cisgender men. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, over 50% of transgender women in men’s prisons report fearing for their safety if they report harassment, discrimination or violence.

However, NBC Miami states that the Miami-Dade Corrections denies Nguyen’s claims that she was placed in a men’s unit and “placed [Nikita] in a holding cell by herself due to her high profile status.”  This is confusing because, during her court hearing, Nguyen asked the judge if she could be transferred to a women’s unit. With the contradicting evidence, it is hard for me to form an opinion but if Nikita was placed in a men’s unit then I believe that it is unethical and puts her in serious danger. Transgender prisoners deserve more protection in jails in general, and I think it is one case of a much larger national issue.