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Crime & Justiceby Brew Editors10:19 amAug 14, 20160

Baltimore officer on transgender person: “I am not searching that”

An excerpt from the Justice Department report on the Baltimore Police Department (Page 123)

Above: Officers’ “disparaging and inappropriate comments to transgender individuals” are included in the DOJ report on the BPD. (U.S. Department of Justice)

We’re reprinting some of the more powerful parts of “The Department of Justice Investigation of the Baltimore City Police Department” released Wednesday.

Here’s their brief section on “BPD’s Treatment of Transgender Individuals” including some “degrading and dehumanizing” interactions with officers:

(Boldface emphasis ours.)

“We received allegations of BPD officers’ mistreatment of transgender individuals and have concerns that BPD’s interactions with transgender individuals reflect underlying unlawful gender bias. We heard allegations that BPD officers make disparaging and inappropriate comments to transgender individuals, and that BPD officers refuse to acknowledge transgender women as women.

One transgender woman, for example, described an incident after a traffic stop in December 2015 in which she was asked by the officer whether she identified as male or female, and told the officer that she identified as female. Despite her response, the arresting officer then said to another officer at the scene, “Well, are you going to transport him?”

We also heard from the transgender community that their interactions with BPD are degrading and dehumanizing and that, as a result, transgender individuals are afraid to report crime to law enforcement.

The same transgender woman described above, for example, alleged that when she arrived at intake, the female supervisor who was called to search her said, “I am not here for this shit. I am not searching that.”

When she then tried to ask the supervisor to show her some respect, the supervisor said, “Like I said, I don’t know you. I don’t know if you’re a boy or a girl. And I really don’t care, I am not searching you.”

This is not the only example we heard about BPD officers conducting inappropriate searches of transgender individuals. We heard several reports that indicate that BPD officers lack guidance on the appropriate process for conducting searches of transgender individuals, including ensuring that searches are conducted by a person of the appropriate gender.

BPD’s treatment of women victims of sexual assault and of transgender individuals should not reflect gender-based stereotypes and assumptions that may compromise the effectiveness and impartiality of BPD’s response to reports of sexual assault and discourage women and transgender individuals from engaging with the criminal justice system.”

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