October 15, 2007 Contact: Sadie Crabtree, 202-297-3945
Police Chief Lanier issues landmark policy against mistreatment of transgender residents
WASHINGTON—Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier issued a Department General Order today which sets new standards for the treatment of transgender people by police officers.
“Transgender people deserve the same protection as all of our residents and visitors,” Lanier said. “No one should be afraid to call the police when a crime has been committed against them, but I have met transgender people who feel that way. I want to hold our department to a higher standard when it comes to basic fairness and dignity for LGBT people.”
At a forum in June organized by the DC Trans Coalition, the District’s transgender community came together to decide what changes they needed from the police department, Fire/EMS, and the Department of Corrections. Since then, the DC Trans Coalition has been working together with the GLLU and MPD for new policies that address the community’s concerns.
“Because the whole community came together around these, transgender people in DC won’t have to be so afraid of arbitrary arrest and mistreatment in police custody,” said Ruby Corado, a member of the DC Trans Coalition.
The General Order prohibits “gender profiling,” and creates procedures to ensure officers are not targeting transgender people for searches and questioning because of their gender expression. It also directs officers to use the appropriate pronouns for transgender people, and would stop jail staff from endangering transgender women by forcing them into cells with men.
In arrest situations, determining a person’s gender will no longer up to the arresting officer—a policy that would have prevented the incident earlier this year in which Virginia DeSoto was held overnight in a men’s section of the DC Jail.
The DC Trans Coalition works to improve the lives of transgender people in the District and strengthen our collective voice through community organizing and direct action.