LynnAnnRose Huntington of Santa Fe claims employees at a local radiology center treated her with blatant disrespect and hostility because she is transgender—and purposefully damaged her expensive hearing aids. Plus, she says police initially refused to make a report of the incident that she describes as malicious property damage.
It took a day and a half and a concerted social media shaming campaign to get a Santa Fe police officer to document Huntington's allegations. When the officer finally took a report on Monday—following an apology from the city—he determined there had been no intent by the center's employees to damage the hearing aids.
That's not how Huntington sees it.
In the police report and in subsequent emails to SFR, Huntington describes how her appointment at Santa Fe Imaging for an MRI on Feb. 8 went from bad to worse.
Staffers continued to address her as a male even after she stated that she is a female, she writes, and refused to use her legal name, LynnAnnRose. They ignored her complaints that her neck was locked in a painful position and that the music in the earbuds they had given her was turned up to an excruciating volume.
As soon as the appointment was over, Huntington realized that her hearing aids were no longer working properly and left "in a state of shock" at how she had been treated.
She believes someone at the center intentionally damaged the hearing aids, which she says are worth more than $7,000, and calls the act "criminal."
An employee who answered SFR's call seeking comment from Santa Fe Imaging on Tuesday declined to discuss the couple's allegations, saying the director is on vacation.
LynnAnnRose's wife, Lisa Huntington, says they made several attempts to file a police report soon after the incident, but police did not begin to investigate until late Monday, after Lisa Huntington posted complaints on multiple city social media pages.
Santa Fe Constituent and Council Services Director Kristine Mihelcic wrote an apology to the couple explaining the delay in police response.
"There appears to have been miscommunication from the Regional Emergency Dispatch Center," Mihelcic wrote. "A call for service was never generated."
All 911 calls are sent to a regional dispatcher, who then forwards each call to the most appropriate department. Most often, that's either the police department or the fire department.
In this instance, it appears the Huntingtons' complaints were never forwarded to SFPD, Mihelcic tells SFR by phone, adding that the department has requested the 911 recordings and radio transmissions to investigate the communication failure. She says police responded as soon as they became aware of the situation.
A receptionist at Santa Fe Imaging told SFPD officer Stephan Fonte that the aids could have been damaged by being placed too close to the MRI machine, and that devices should not be allowed in the MRI room or the control room.
Fonte writes in his report that "there appears to be no criminal intent to the damage to the hearing aids." Fonte asked the couple to contact the hearing aid company and the director of Santa Fe Imaging to "resolve the matter civilly."
For the transgender couple, the incident stands out as a glaring example of the kind of discrimination Lisa Huntington says they experience with some regularity, even in the ostensibly tolerant city of Santa Fe.
They say they will continue to pursue a payment from Santa Fe Imaging for the damaged hearing aids.
"We were not able to convince them that the damage was intentional, and of course we can't prove it," Huntington tells SFR. But for them, the significance is also greater than this one incident.
"By dispatch refusing to report the incident, and by police officers not believing the damage was intentional, it's like they're saying that they don't totally believe that the discrimination is real," they tell SFR.
Not being believed is an all too familiar experience for Lisa Huntington— and for LynnAnnRose, who is visibly transgender.
"This kind of discrimination happens all the time…. Every time we go out together we experience microaggressions—men staring at us or shoving, women making disgusted faces, or laughing," says Lisa Huntington, adding: "It's like bullying, and it wears you down, especially when people repeatedly don't believe you."
Editor's note: A previous version of this article implied that LynnAnnRose Huntington has a different legal name, which is not the case.