NICHOLAS Kissoon known as ‘Beyonce’ was slated to appear at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday to answer charges of abusive language and attempted suicide, however she could not make it pass the gate.
The transgender woman was wearing a polka dot, cap-sleeved dress but was told by a police officer at the gate that she cannot enter the compound after he searched her bag. Kissoon told Guyana Chronicle that she was scheduled to appear in Court 6 and alleged that the police rank “pushed” her out.
“When I entered the court yard, the officer asked me to search my bag. I allowed him to search my bag and then he told me that I can’t come into the court and he pushed me out of the court yard,” Kissoon related.
The charges stemmed from an incident which occurred on April 27, 2017 at the Georgetown Prison, following an altercation between Kissoon and a female prison officer. On that day, Kissoon said she visited the prison to take “support” for a family member and got into an argument with the female officer at the gate.
“She cuss me first so I cuss her back and they took me to Brickdam Police Station,” Kissoon said as she noted that while at the police station, she was beaten by police ranks.
“They took me to the [Brickdam Police] station to have a seat; they beat me and start discriminating my lifestyle I live…they are finding a lot of charge because they lash me to my head and bust it,” the trans woman related.
As it relates to the issue of attempted suicide, Kissoon said that it is a “trumped-up” charge and she has no knowledge as to why the police would charge her with such an offence.
“I have no knowledge about that, that’s a false allegation made against me by the police.”
THE Court of Appeal in February 2017, upheld a 2013 ruling by former Chief Justice, Ian Chang that cross-dressing is not a crime, once not done for “improper purposes”.
In 2010, a group of transgender women had asked the Supreme Court to strike down laws that left them open to arrest following a police crackdown the year before on male cross-dressers. While Chang’s subsequent ruling allowed for men to dress in women’s clothing, it did not say what constituted “improper purpose”, which led to concerns about interpretation. Subsequently, an appeal was filed by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, seeking clarity on what constitutes “improper purpose”.
However, Chancellor of the Judiciary at the time, Carl Singh, Justice, Yvonne Cummings-Edwards, and High Court Judge, Justice Brassington Reynolds, unanimously upheld the decision made by Justice Chang in 2013. Singh reasoned that an improper purpose would be a man dressing as a woman, and using this female image to solicit services from a taxi driver, after which he robs the driver.
AMBIGUITY IN RULING
Meanwhile, when contacted by Guyana Chronicle on Tuesday for a comment on the Kissoon issue, Founder and Co-Chairperson of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) in Guyana, Joel Simpson alluded to the ambiguity in the court’s ruling on the issue of cross-dressing.
“Cross dressing is not a crime unless it’s for improper purpose. The court’s security are taking upon themselves to bar transgender persons from entering the court’s compound.
“Up to now, although a few months has passed, there has not been a written decision why the cross dressing matter was dismissed at the Appeal Court,” Simpson lamented.
With “improper purposes” not being clearly defined, the then Chancellor had explained that it is not for the court to define what improper is, since Parliament has not done so. The Summary Jurisdiction Act, which criminalised men and women presenting themselves in attire of the opposite sex, came into effect in 1893.
This means, too, that when cases related to cross-dressing arise in the court, interpretation of the word “improper” will be determined by the magistrate hearing that case.