** Reported on in December 2020 **
New Paltz Police Officer Robert Sisco has apologized for his transphobic statements made in a rap video he posted on June 16.
In the 70-second video, Sisco stated, “spit facts over feelings, because your feelings are irrelevant. There’s only two genders, and Trump’s still your president. Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina. This whole coronavirus was sent here from China. Hillary is killery, we all know the reason. Where those emails at? We should hang her for treason.”
In response, the New Paltz community was outraged, the incident received national coverage and on June 29, the Town Board called for his termination after he was suspended from the police department. However, Sisco was reinstated in October.
Sisco apologized for his statements at a virtual Town Board meeting on Nov. 19.
The apology was directed towards the LGBTQIA+ community, the town and village residents and the New Paltz elected officials.
“I took an oath and right, wrong or indifferent I should have considered if my actions would have affected us all,” Sisco said. “I make no excuses but understand that I am a human being. I have grown and I have changed in many many ways through this entire experience.”
Sisco then turned off his camera during the meeting to address the transgender community.
“I watched as you all commented and posted and I deserved it,” Sisco continued. “What struck me the most was hearing how unsafe people in our community felt after hearing my words. Unfortunately, I was ignorant and I was hurtful. My Blackness does not define me but it is who I am, I do not choose it. This was how it was explained to me by a transgender associate of mine who I worked with for years, I am hesitant to say, ‘friend’ because he too was extremely hurt by my actions and words.”
Sisco said the goal of his video was to open a dialogue so “we could start talking.” The video cost him some of his friends and family, but he said it helped him grow as a person.
Eve Papp, a transgender woman, spoke after Sisco.
“Many of you may remember that I had offered to go out for a beer and a burger with Officer Sisco back in June because I truly believe in education over just canceling,” Papp said. “When my wife and I went to meet with him, to say our anxiety was high would be an understatement. I only knew him as my enemy and somebody who stood directly opposed to my existence. Who I found sitting across the table from me was completely different than who I imagined.”
Papp said during their four-hour meeting, Officer Sisco mainly listened and they have continued having conversations over the phone. Papp expressed that she is an individual and her views do not speak for the entire trans or LGBTQIA+ community.
Papp continued by stating that a lack of education, led to Sisco’s “infamous rap” and that 90% of people know somebody who is gay or lesbian but only 20% know somebody who is transgender.
“Transphobia is real and it does kill,” Papp said.
For educational resources on the Transgender community visit GLAAD.org.