May 7, 2019
American policing is in grave need of reform. Reports of racial and religious profiling, killings of unarmed civilians, and sexual abuse and other forms of misconduct by police across the nation are all too common. Over half (58%) of transgender people who interacted with law enforcement that knew they were transgender in the last year reported experiences of harassment, abuse or other mistreatment by the police according to the US Transgender Survey (USTS). Transgender people often feel, accurately, that they can do nothing about this mistreatment, knowing that they risk falling victim to additional mistreatment by those tasked with conducting and overseeing the complaint process.As we make groundbreaking advancements towards transgender equality, many members of our communities continue to be affected by disproportionate contact with, and often by bias and abuse within, policing and the criminal justice system. Transgender people face staggering levels of violence, homelessness, and poverty in the United States, with transgender people of color experiencing the greatest disparities. Thus, it is not surprising that, even though transgender people are more likely to be victims of violent crime than non-transgender people, over half (57%) of all USTS respondents feel uncomfortable calling the police for help when they need it.The purpose of this report is to promote stronger and more fair policies when it comes to police interactions with transgender people. This report focuses primarily on policies specifically governing police interactions with transgender people, including non-discrimination statements, recognition of non-binary identities in applicable policies, use of respectful communication, recording information in department forms, search procedures, transportation, placement in temporary lock-up facilities, access to medication, removal of appearance related items, training, and bathroom access. For each topic, model policies are provided that can and should be adopted by police departments in collaboration with transgender leaders in their communities.