Streetwise & Safe (SAS) —also known as SAS—is a project in New York City that shares the ins & outs, do’s & don’ts and street politics of encounters between LGBTQQ youth of color and the police. We also stand for and with LGBTQQ and youth with experience trading sex for survival needs. We feel knowing your rights makes you more confident in protecting yourself during and after interactions with the police. We also know that the reality is that the police don’t always respect our rights but knowing what they are is important so that we can fight for them later. We also create a space to share strategies to stay safe from all forms of violence experienced by LGBTQQ youth and advocate for policies that will change the ways police interact with us.

Latest news:






  • Our 2013 Newsletter is out! Check out our accomplishments and victories over the past year, in words and images from SAS youth leaders!


  • Statement from the Audre Lorde Project, FIERCE, SAS and SRLP on closing of Queers for Economic Justice.





  • Read recent media coverage of SAS youth speaking out about stop and frisk and other forms of discriminatory, unlawful and abusive policing, click here: Media


Long-awaited provisions announced today address violations of the rights of transgender New Yorkers by

New York City Police Department

JUNE 12, 2012 — The New York City Police Department today released changes to its Patrol Guide which are intended to address ongoing and widespread violations of the rights of transgender New Yorkers. The following is a quote from the official press release:

“The NYPD’s new Patrol Guide provisions make clear that discrimination, harassment or disparaging comments based on actual or perceived gender is defined and prohibited as required by Local Law 3,” said Andrea Ritchie, a civil rights attorney who was involved in negotiating the Patrol Guide changes and Co-Coordinator of Streetwise and Safe (SAS), a program for LGBTQ youth of color. “The new policies in the Patrol Guide now mandate that New York City Police officers must respect transgender & gender nonconforming (TGNC) people’s gender identity and expression when addressing, processing, searching, and housing them, and explicitly prohibit NYPD officers from conducting any search for the purpose of determining a person’s gender. They also address the LGBT community’s concern about handcuffing people to benches and rails while in police custody.”

Read the Gay City News article here.

New York City will now join San Francisco, the District of Columbia, and most recently Los Angeles in adopting comprehensive changes to police procedures intended to prevent violations of the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people. Properly implemented, these provisions will protect the rights of LGBTQ youth and transgender people during interactions with the NYPD.

Community-based groups including Streetwise and Safe (SAS), the Sylvia Rivera Law Project,  FIERCE, the Audre Lorde ProjectQueers for Economic Justice and the LGBT Center have long called attention to ongoing violations of the rights of transgender New Yorkers by the NYPD, and patterns of rights violations were documented as early as 2005 by Amnesty International in its report Stonewalled: Police Abuse and Misconduct Against LGBT People in the United States.

The changes announced today are the product of negotiations between LGBT advocates - including SAS Co-Coordinator Andrea Ritchie and representatives from the New York City Anti-Violence Project and LGBT Center - and the NYPD which were brokered by New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

SAS Co-Coordinator Andrea J. Ritchie has represented a number of transgender New Yorkers in actions against the City of New York challenging the widespread practice of inappropriate and unlawful searches reported by transgender and gender nonconforming people for years. The plaintiffs who came forward to challenge these practices and seek justice in federal court – including Kaitlyn Tikkun, JaLea Lamot, and Angelina Mavilia, to name just a few – also played a key role in bringing these issues to light and achieving these changes.

The Patrol Guide revisions announced today are based on a proposal developed and submitted to the NYPD by a coalition of community based organizations known as Trans Policy Advocates in 2009, and address police interactions with transgender and gender nonconforming people when they are arrested, processed and detained in NYPD police precincts and central booking facilities.

The NYPD Patrol Guide now:

· Prohibits the use of discourteous or disrespectful remarks regarding a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

· Instructs police officers refer to transgender New Yorkers by names, honorifics and pronouns that reflect their gender identity (even if it does not match the information on their ID documents) and amends forms so that people’s “preferred name” can be recorded and used while they are in police custody.

· Prohibits police officers NYPD officers from conducting any search for the purpose of assigning a person a gender. This also applies to school safety officers, NYPD personnel assigned to the city’s public schools.

· Requires that individuals in NYPD custody be searched by an officer of the gender they request. If their request is not honored, the reasons will be noted in the command log.

· Defines “gender” to include gender identity and expression, consistent with New York City’s Human Rights Law. This means that when the NYPD considers someone’s gender, it is their gender identity that matters, if even if their gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth.

· Individuals in NYPD custody will be held in sex segregated police facilities according to their gender identity, even if it differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, unless there is a concern for the person’s safety, in which case they will be considered “special category prisoners” and placed accordingly.

· “Special category prisoners,” including transgender people, will not be cuffed to rails, bars or chairs for unreasonable periods of time.

Streetwise and Safe will continue to work alongside other advocates from the LGBT community on NYPD training and enforcement to ensure that the Patrol Guide changes are effectively implemented.

As members of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), we will also continue to advocate for passage of the Community Safety Act, historic legislation pending before the New York City Council that will address the widespread profiling and discriminatory policing practices that bring transgender and gender nonconforming people into contact with the NYPD in the first place. This landmark legislation would for the first time in New York City’s history explicitly prohibit discriminatory, unlawful and abusive policing based on gender identity or expression and sexual orientation, along with race, ethnicity, religion, age, housing status and immigration status, and put some teeth behind the prohibition. It would also require officers to advise members of the public that they have the right to deny consent to searches not supported by reasonable suspicion or probable cause, and to record an individual’s consent before proceeding with the search – an issue of critical importance to LGBTQ New Yorkers.