On April 12, 2012 Transgender Law Center applauded the L.A. Police Department for releasing new policies signed by Chief Beck to address police interactions with transgender individuals.

The new policies instruct police officers to be “respectful, professional, and courteous” to transgender people. Some of the guidelines include:

  • Treat transgender persons in a manner that reveals respect for the individual’s gender identity and gender expression, which includes addressing them by their preferred name and using gender pronouns appropriate to the individual’s gender self-identity and expression;
  • A search or frisk shall not be performed for the sole purpose of determining an individual’s anatomical gender; and
  • Requests to remove appearance-related items, such as prosthetics, clothing that conveys gender identity, wigs, and cosmetics, shall be consistent with requirements for the removal of similar items for non-transgender individuals.

In addition to these instructions for police interactions, the LAPD has announced that they will be revising their Jail Operations Manual to include “the proper processing, housing, custody and protection of transgender individuals.”

“This is a huge victory for transgender people who may interact with the police, and for transgender inmates. It sets a great precedent for police departments nationwide,” said Masen Davis, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center. “We often receive calls from people who have experienced police harassment and experienced violence in prison, so we are thrilled that the LAPD is taking steps to remedy this tragic situation.”

Davis and other Transgender Law Center staff served as members of a Transgender Working Group that was instrumental in recommending the policy changes. Consisting of transgender community advocates and hosted by the L.A. City Human Relations Commission, the Transgender Working Group was founded in 2007 and conducted citywide surveys and hosted a public forum to investigate LAPD interactions with transgender individuals in the City of Los Angeles.  The data they collected was then transformed into a set of policy recommendations for the LAPD.

The survey results indicated a strong need for the LAPD’s policy changes: 31% of respondents indicated they were verbally harassed by police; 27% reported being repeatedly called the wrong gender or name by police; and 12% reported physical abuse by police.