The Philadelphia Police Department is enacting new guidelines to reduce bias toward transgender and non-binary people in their interactions with police.
The police department worked with the mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs and members of both communities to develop the policy that will guide the every day interactions police have with transgender or non-binary people regardless of whether they are suspects, in custody, victims or witnesses, according to a statement released by the city Tuesday.
Among other things, the policy calls for officers to honor a person’s gender identity by recording and publicizing the person’s chosen name and pronoun and abiding by their preference for the gender of the officer who searches them, the statement said.
The policy also instructs officers to bring transgender people in custody to the nearest medical facility if they are in need of medical care, including hormone therapy and, when possible, to house and transport transgender people who are in custody separately from other incarcerated people.
Transgender and non-binary people “have historically faced humiliating, hurtful treatment during their interactions with law enforcement,” the statement said. “The new PPD policy aims to provide clear instructions to personnel in order to prevent such incidents in Philadelphia.”
A recently released report from the National Center for Transgender Equality, based on 2015 US survey, found that more than half of transgender people who have interacted with police were mistreated.
That included verbal harassment, being called by the wrong gender and physical or sexual assault, including being forced by officers to engage in sexual activity to avoid arrest.
One in eight black transgender people have reported physical or sexual assault, the organization said.
The NCTE acknowledged Philadelphia’s updated policy as an important step, but spokeswoman Gillian Branstetter said there is still a long way to go.
“As the recent revelations about biased social media posts from numerous current and former local officers in the Philadelphia PD illustrates, our nation’s law enforcement still has much to do to reduce the role of police in people’s daily lives and heal the mistrust between law enforcement and minority communities, including the transgender community,” Branstetter said.
Philadelphia police took 72 officers off the street earlier this month and put them on administrative duty after allegations surfaced that officers posted hateful and racist content on social media.