blue bloods

Why Is The Atlanta Police Department Shunning Intersex LGBT Liaison Dani Lee Harris?

Dani Lee Harris, the intersex Atlanta City Police officer who a year ago became the face of the Atlanta Eagle bar raid scandal as the LGBT liaison, says she’s been all but shunned by the force. APD hired a second liaison, then somebody to specifically replace Harris while she was on medical leave. But she’s been cleared to return to work for some time now, and yet “they keeping me out,” she says.

Harris, who last year served as the first intersex grand marshal of Atlanta’s LGBT Pride, wants answers.

In May, a second gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered liaison, Patricia Powell, was hired. Harris, the APD said, was on medical leave. Last Wednesday, she was effectively replaced when the APD announced the promotion of Ofc. Brian Sharp to assist Powell in improving relations with the gay community. As for Harris — still on leave, according to APD spokesman Carlos Campos.

But Harris, 37, said she was cleared to return to work six months ago, even though she had just suffered a seizure — her second in less than a year. The second seizure — stress-related, her doctor says — followed a “really nasty, derogatory comment” by a civilian colleague whom Harris doesn’t want to identify. She said she tried to file a complaint with the department’s Office of Professional Standards but was told to go home.

That was April 15.

Harris said she hasn’t been allowed to return and hasn’t received a paycheck since June. Friends and supporters will hold a benefit concert for Harris 3 p.m. Saturday at the Power Center, located at 2133 Hills Ave. in Atlanta. She suspects her superiors are trying to protect the colleague who, Harris alleges, made the derogatory remark about her sexuality. Harris is intersex, someone whose internal or external sexual anatomy or chromosomes don’t fit the typical definitions of female or male at birth or puberty.

Just this week, it appears, Harris learned of the personnel moves taking place inside the department.

When CL contacted Harris earlier today, she was unaware that a second liaison had been hired in her absence. “That’s news to me,” Harris said. “I Still haven’t heard anything from them, but it’s good to know they officially hired another [liaison]. At least my attorney will believe me when I say that they weren’t trying to put me back [in the position] to begin with.”

Harris initially ruffled feathers within the department when she commented to the media following the APD’s raid of the Atlanta Eagle in 2009, but says she was “blackballed” after filing an Office of Professional Standards complaint shortly thereafter, one she can’t discuss in detail because of pending legal action.

And the APD is remaining mum about Harris’ status. APD Public Affairs Manager Carlos Campos says,
“No decision has been made on [Officer Harris], no permaninent decision. It’s in a holding pattern. It’s a personnel matter and it’s not something I’m at liberty to discuss in any detail.”

Which if true would mean the Atlanta Police Department, working so hard to improve its relationship with the gay community, has developed a new tick: covering up discrimination against intersex staffers. A round of applause, everybody!

[Atlanta Journal Constitution, Creative Loafing, Project Q Atlanta]

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  • Miguel

    “Harris is intersex, someone whose internal or external sexual anatomy or chromosomes don’t fit the typical definitions of female or male at birth or puberty.”

    And what does that have to do with gays and lesbians? Obviously, she shouldn’t be treated unfairly. But it is ridiculous that the city of Atlanta responds to a violent police action in a gay bar by appointing a hermaphrodite as our liaison. As a hermaphrodite, she could have any sexual orientation.

    Her “intersexed” status is independent of her sexual orientation. Yet people now assume that gays and hermaphrodites and transvestites and transsexuals and effeminate straight men and drag performers are all one indistinguishable lump of flesh known as LGBT. In other words, they are now free to believe the very stereotypes that we spent 40 years trying to convince them were wrong.

    This serves very nicely the interests of the affluent white “queer” academics who created this term. But it is a lie and an affront to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, the transgendered, and the intersexed, and anyone with a functioning brain.

  • Simon

    @Miguel: What do we have in common? We all face the same brand of discrimination. We are all targeted due to the fact that we fuck with society’s standards of what it means to be a “real man” or a “real woman.” I don’t understand how it’s a bad thing or in any way upholding stereotypes to suggest that we take advantage of this link between all GLBTQI-identified folks in order to challenge this discrimination.

    Also, your use of the term “hermaphrodite” is unacceptable.

  • nelson

    In all fairness, it sound like she has a lot of issues going on besides LGBT rights. If she is suffering seizures when something negative is said, maybe they need another liaison at this time. I tend to agree that gays need to establish their own identities and not lump everyone together in one group. It’s hard enough to be taken seriously when activists insist that we are all the same and want to be thought of as the opposite sex.

  • Miguel

    @Simon: I don’t know who you think you are. You get to call me an “LGBTQI” without my consent or permission but my use of “hermaphrodite” is unacceptable?
    I’ll start asking for your input on my terminology
    when you stop equating me with transsexuals(and transsexuals with me).

    You are obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so let me explain it to you: Just because gays might have common cause with one or another group on some issue, that doesn’t mean we
    change our identity and our name to morph with
    all of these groups. We have common issues with African Americans, Latinos, trial lawyers, organized labor, and members of the European Union. That doesn’t mean that each of those groups and entities becomes melded in their entirety with the gay community or vice versa. It isn’t logical and it
    does violence to the identity of all concerned. There is a difference between being friends or allies and changing your very identity and name.

    Gay men are men, lesbians are women. Period. There is no war on manhood or womanhood. We are not confused. We do not suffer from anatomical anomalies, and we do not want to change our sex or become surgically altered. The only thing we “fuck” with are stereotypes that see gays as a “third gender”. It si that very stereotype that is enshrined and promoted by LGBTQITSQ or whatever the insane list of letters is this week.

  • Tori

    @Miguel what about gays and lesbians who are perfectly fine to be included in lgbt, do you speak for them?

  • Miguel

    @Tori: No, I don’t speak for them. However, since there are gays who support the concept and those who oppose it, we need to have a conversation as
    to the logic, wisdom, and morality of defining ourselves inthis new way. Then we can reach a consensus and/or a compromise.
    We never had that conversation in the 1990s, when “LGBT” suddenly sprang into popular usage and when gay organizations and institutions quickly renamed themselves.

    This was all done summarily, by a group of activists and queer studies academics, nearly all of whom live in gay-friendly urban areas and nearly all of whom are middle/upper middle class. There was never any consideration for what this kind of redefinition might mean for gay people in different circumstances. Just as there was no consideration for the impact it might have on trans people. I know that there is a group of transsexuals who are furious over “LGBT,” and not because they are anti-gay. A trans woman identifies as a woman and should be treated as a woman. It is an insult to suggest – as LGBT does – that she is really in some sense not a woman but a variant of a gay man who likes to wear dresses and use cosmetics. Ditto for a trans man.

    So Queerty should start promoting that conversation instead of cramming LGBTQIAQXYZ down our throats whether we like it or not.

  • Chris H

    @Miguel: All of us who experience sexual discrimination, be it sexual orientation, or gender identity, need each other. You don’t like being lumped into the same category as “hermaphrodites” because you don’t want some conservative to think you are intersex, we get it. But the real answer isn’t dividing up and fighting our battles separately, but to educate the rest of society on our diversity. Since when is it the victim’s fault that society is so ignorant?

    If you don’t like some conservative thinking you dress in drag on the weekends, SPEAK THE FUCK UP. Educate them on the difference between gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation.

  • Dee


    using LGBTQQIAA isn’t to say we are all one in the same. No two ppl are the same, but as a community we face certain types of struggles we can each relate to. Since what makes us different is in regards to sex, gender, & sexuality, it makes us unique as a community and even more unique individually. It hurts us to have the attitude that we must separate. the more we divide the smaller we become and the less of impact on change and progress we can make. This doesn’t take away from my identity as a lesbian woman. But because of my personal experience, we all have some shared knowledge and tend to be more accepting of each other because of that. Coming together as a larger group is beneficial for all of us and in no way takes away our individuality.

    I may identify as lesbian, but it doesn’t take away from my identity as a black woman, nor as a Haitian woman in particular. I embrace belonging to this community as a whole, yet I recognize and accept each of our differences.

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