Separating fact from fiction in arrest of trans woman for voyeurism

Separating fact from fiction in arrest of trans woman for voyeurism

Sheriff’s deputies in Idaho arrested a 43-year-old individual for voyeurism Tuesday, after a female customer at the Target store in the Idaho Falls suburb of Ammon complained she was being photographed or recorded on an iPhone by someone in an adjacent fitting booth. She said the person held their iPhone “over top of the barrier between the rooms.”

According to Sgt. Bryan Lovell, a spokesman for the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect is Shauna Patricia Smith. Lovell told LGBTQ Nation Smith is an employee of a local department store. Her accuser, referred to only as “the victim” in court documents, was trying on a swimsuit Monday when she spotted the iPhone. Her mother confronted Smith, say police, and described her as a “white male who was wearing a dress and a blonde wig.”

Surveillance video from Target allegedly showed Smith leaving the store and driving away, and also revealed her car’s license plate, which led the sheriff’s office to her home. A detective identified Smith as transgender based on information he gleaned from Smith’s roommate, according to court documents. Lovell consistently referred to Smith as male because of the name and gender appearing on her legal identification, even though that detective used female pronouns in the sworn affidavit filed with the court.

Smith was booked into the county jail as a male, based on that legal identification. She’s been incarcerated since Tuesday in “special housing,” along with 13 other male prisoners, away from the general population, according to the county jail’s inmate website. She was arraigned via a closed circuit video hookup Wednesday. If convicted, Smith could face up to five years behind bars.

Those are the only facts of the case that are not in dispute.

Given intense national attention on the issue of transgender identity, access to bathrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities, many other details of this case have been twisted, misreported and sensationalized. Readers are being misinformed by a variety of media, from conservative websites to mainstream outlets, including even such venerable institutions as The New York Times.

The exact opposite is true when it comes to the reliable reporting of this publication, The Daily Dot, Buzzfeed, and most significantly, The TransAdvocate. 

Perhaps the most important piece of new information from the last 24 hours was uncovered by The TransAdvocate’s Cristan Williams: that despite several reports that Smith and “the victim” encountered one another in a women’s changing room, there is no such place.

“We contacted the Target store and spoke with staff who described the changing room area. Additionally, we physically visited the store in which the crime took place to verify the information the Target employees provided us.

“The Target store in question has a unisex changing area. Unisex changing areas were rolled out in Target stores years1 prior to Target’s announcement of its trans-inclusive policy.”

Given the facts as we know them, Target’s trans-inclusive policy — which was met with scorn and petitions from anti-LGBTQ forces — has no bearing on this case. But it’s become a talking point, to the level of boasting, among right wing anti-transgender pundits. Rev. Franklin Graham upped the ante against the retail chain Thursday, telling CNS News: “Target is putting their customers at risk” and is “inviting sexual perverts into their stores.”


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