Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Video: Brooke Fantelli, Transgender Off-Road Racer, Tased in the Crotch by BLM Ranger in California Desert

Transgender people, it seems, along with the obese and the white, rural poor, are the only folks it’s still considered somewhat acceptable to discriminate against in this country. I’ve seen first-hand the scowls, sneers and snide remarks that trans women get from an unloving public, and I live in San Francisco, for Christ’s sake! If these women face disapproval here, imagine what hell their lives must be in less tolerant climes?

That question, unfortunately, is answered on a daily basis somewhere in this vast land of ours. Today, thanks to Autumn Sandeen at San Diego LGBT Weekly, I learned the shocking tale of Brooke Fantelli, formerly off-road racing star Rodd Fantelli. At age 43, she’s transitioning from male to female, but her state-issued driver’s license does not reflect her true gender identity. It says she’s a man.

Fantelli, a friend, a photographer and two models were out in the desert  in Imperial County, California late in October on a photo shoot for the models’ portfolio. With one of Brooke’s off-road racing trucks– she owns Fantelli Racing, a custom off-road truck shop– and the desert as a stunning backdrop, the photo shoot was proceeding fabulously until a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ranger (they were on public land) stopped by to see what the group was up to.

The ranger, who Fantelli identified by his last name Petter, asked to see everyone’s IDs. When Petter saw the discrepancy between the photo and sex listed on the license and the woman standing before him, Fantelli says his demeanor changed. He stopped referring to her as “ma’am,” “her” and “she” and started calling her “sir,” “him” “he” and even “dude,”  red-flag behavior that indicates ignorance or possibly even bigotry against trans people.

“He actually looked me straight in the eye and says, ‘You used to be a guy,’ and I said, ‘Yes, I did.’ There was no way around it. I could see it in his eyes. He wanted to do that,” she told San Diego’s 10 News, foreshadowing what was about to happen to her.

Since the group was doing nothing wrong, the ranger returned to his vehicle where he remained to keep an eye on them for more than an hour. Fantelli says she drank two and a half beers during this time. Petter says she had four, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Fantelli approached Petter to tell him he was making the models nervous. He told her to leave as officers from the Federal Park Police and the Imperial County Sheriffs Department crested a nearby hill and arrived on the scene. Petter then told Fantelli she was under arrest for public intoxication. In the middle of the goddamned desert.

As you can clearly see in the video below, Fantelli raised her hands high over her head in a very non-threatening manner. She stood there for some time, but after she tells her friend with the video camera to capture what was going down– hands still raised fully above her head, she is shot with a Taser stun gun and drops to the ground in agony. Two officers then drop down on top of Fantelli to handcuff her, and she is then Tased again– this time in the crotch.

“I wasn’t giving him any problem. He’s got another officer there with him. All he had to do was put the handcuffs on,” she told 10 News. “It was obvious. He hated me,” she added, saying that the ranger shot her in the genitals to send a message.

Fantelli says that after being arrested, officers referred to her as “it,” “thing” and “that whatever.”

“There’s no way to put it, it’s just plain out brutal, plain out brutal,” she told 10 News.

The Imperial County District Attorney has not filed any charges against Fantelli. But it is quite likely that she will be filing a civil suit against the officers who brutalized her. Moral Low Ground wishes her the best of luck.

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One Comment

  1. Sara SutalaoDecember 21, 2011 at 9:19 amReply

    Fame Whore$.

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