In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution (The Socialist Podcast) Heather is joined in the studio by Reanna Segin, a trans woman who was arrested at Philadelphia pride and forced into a men’s prison. This is her first long format tell all interview since her arrest. NJRR warns listeners this is a raw and emotional interview which may be triggering for those who have experienced trauma.
Reanna Segin: A Passionate Activist
Heather had the pleasure of meeting Reanna through the Atlantic City chapter of Food Not Bombs (you can listen to their interview here). Reanna already had shown herself to be a passionate activist when she took the stage during the Philadelphia “March For Our Lives” to discuss the ever present police and systemic violence against marginalized populations. A video of her speech was shared widely around the internet. Although school shootings are terrible, they are part of a larger systemic problem and Reanna wanted to address the racism and classism built into our violent society. She was unfortunately escorted off the stage, but her video was viewed by over 100,000 people.
The History of Pride Month
Reanna started this conversation by expressing that Pride did not start off as a watered-down capitalist scheme. Pride started as a riot, specifically the Stonewall Riot. It didn’t grow out of consumerism but out of righteous anger at the wrongs committed against the LGBTQ communities. At its roots, Pride is anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, and just raw emotion and anger. It shouldn’t be easy to consume. Pride has evolved into some sort of victory celebration, but the war is not yet won. LGBTQ people are fighting every day for their rights. In many places they are actively losing ground and rights. It isn’t time to celebrate, its time to organize.
Philly Pride 2018
Reanna showed up at Philly Pride equipped with a blue lives matter flag she had obtained previously. She was wearing a mask in an attempt to prevent personal publicity, but unfortunately that didn’t work out. She sat her bag on the ground, got the flag out, and placed it on the ground. As she was reaching into her bag again,she was tackled by 4 or 5 police officers. Reanna was surprised at the level of violence she was met with for simply reaching into her bag.
The Harassment Starts Immediately After Arrest
After the police locked her into the cop car, they asked “Are you a boy or a girl?”. Reanna thought they were attempting to properly gender her and explained she was a girl. She wasn’t mad yet, because she was aware her mask and outfit gave her an androgynous appearance. A female officer patted her down, but there were 2 male arresting officers who transported her to the station. The jeering and mocking began immediately on the drive in. They mocked the local LGBT community for being highly flammable. Reanna wisely remained silent on the ride.
The Police Took It Personal
Reanna heard numerous comments about her attempting to burn a blue lives matter flag. She could tell the police had taken offence and to them this was a personal attack. She feels what happened during her time in prison was a form of revenge for their hurt feelings. They booked her under her dead name, despite her frequent corrections on the subject.
The Story Broke Almost Immediately
What Reanna didn’t know at this point in time was the story had already broken to local and national media outlets. Because she was booked under her dead name, all the mainstream media outlets published her dead name. One even went so far as publish her address where she lives with her family. It was the hard work of her friends and comrades that got her address taken down from that media outlet. It is hard to predict what kind of violence might have ensued without her comrades help.
Disrespect For Her Gender
A transgender woman in a male prison is an extremely dangerous scenario. Violence against trans women is astoundingly high, especially sexual violence and rape. Immediately after booking her, they showed enough respect to keep her in a private cell temporarily, but she was still held in the men’s ward. The choices of these police officers put her in real danger. Rape is not a joke. It is not a punishment for crimes. “Drop The Soap” jokes are never funny. Playing with the idea of letting a trans woman get raped is a form of torture. Since Reanna was a victim of previous trauma in her life, she entered a disassociative state and went into a half blackout mental state.
Sleep Deprived And Confused
The police woke Reanna up at approximately 3 in the morning to have a consult with a lawyer (although she was not clear who he was) and a judge on a video chat. The judge charged her with several felonies and set bail at 5000 dollars. She had been in jail for 12 hours by this time and had not yet been able to make a phone call. Since she was calling a number outside of the Philadelphia area code, her calls were not going through. After her bail was set, she was finally connected to her mother and was able to tell her mother how to post bail.
Bail Was Not Processed
Her mother immediately attempted to pay the bail online, but her paperwork was not processed in a timely fashion. The website said bail was unavailable at that point and her mother was unable to pay bail. Since bail was not posted in time, they transferred Reanna from the local police station to the regional prison. She was shocked to hear bail was not posted because her mother attempted to post bail immediately after the phone call. There are no details about what caused the glitch in the computer system that denied her bail.
At the Correction Facility
At the prison they process her along with the male inmates. She repeatedly asserted her gender and name, but they were not interested in her correct name. The police did a health screening and strip search, where she was forced to strip in front of a male guard after her request for a female guard was denied. As anyone would be, she was crying and sobbing. She is taken to the health center which is were Reanna finally learned she made national news.
Reanna was placed in with a group of male inmates and requested protective custody. The guards said a superior had to approve it, so she was left in the cell with the men. Eventually she was transferred to a private cell and a phlebotomist was brought in to examine her genitals along with a group of guards. This was after they had already done a strip search earlier in the process. Eventually her bail could not be delayed any longer and the took her out of the cell and again placed her in a cell with men being released. One of the police officers said, “You will be fine” and disregarded her concerns about protective custody.
An Emotional and Financial Toll
This whole experience took a major emotional toll on Reanna. The only thing that kept her from killing herself was the support of her comrades and people that cared about her. She was fired from her job and was facing serious prison time for the felony charges. Eventually all charges were dropped after several months of lawyers and debate. Reanna is starting to put her life back together, but it is a long process. We will continue to keep in touch with this brave and passionate woman here at NJRR. Reanna is a brave survivor and she will be back in the activist community and help change the world for the better.
Listen to more about LGBTQ rights here