PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia Police Department has announced new policies for officers when interacting with a transgender or non-binary individual. The policy applies to all police interactions, whether as suspects, arrestees, victims or witnesses.
The police department teamed up with the office of LGBT Affairs and members of the city’s LGBTQ+ community to come up with the new guidance.
“It reflects the Department’s commitment to safeguard people’s constitutional rights and to treat all people with courtesy and dignity,” the police department said in a statement. “The directive offers a clear guide for unbiased day-to-day interactions with transgender and non-binary people, as well as individuals who are being detained or transported. The directive also includes terminology definitions that offer language usage clarity to support respectful interactions.
Under “Directive 4.15” officers will:
- Be required to record a person’s chosen name on paperwork, in addition to legal name (if different).
- Use a person’s chosen name and pronouns when interacting with transgender people, regardless of what may be listed on their ID.
- Use a person’s chosen name and pronouns when speaking to the media about transgender people.
- Transport transgender people who are in custody to the nearest medical facility to address immediate medical needs, including hormone therapy.
- When possible, transport and house transgender people who are in custody separately from other incarcerated people.
- Ensure transgender people have the opportunity to express a preference for the gender of the officer who searches them, and honor that preference unless doing so would compromise the safety of others.
Nationwide, transgender people experience higher rates of mistreatment, abuse, and violence at the hands of law enforcement. Police say the new policy aims to provide clear instructions to personnel in order to prevent such incidents in Philadelphia.
“For too long, our transgender and non-binary siblings have faced humiliating, hurtful treatment during their interactions with law enforcement,” said Amber Hikes, executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs. “This issue is not unique to Philadelphia, but I am proud that our city was among the first to address it head on—and with leadership from members of the trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community. Throughout this process, I have seen members of our transgender community lead these essential conversations and direct City government on major policy changes. As we close out Pride Month—a celebration made possible because of the early activism of trans people—I am overjoyed that we are able to publicly roll out this policy to ensure protections for our trans and non-binary community.”
The new Philadelphia Police Department policy went into effect in March 2019.