Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

BART police adopt transgender policy

BART police have adopted a policy guiding how officers will deal with transgender people, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system has announced.

The policy aims to foster “respect and good will by addressing people how they wish to be addressed with regard to gender,” BART officials said in a June 24 news release.

For instance, the policy says, “if gender expression does not clearly indicate a transgender person’s identity, an officer may politely and respectfully ask how the person wishes to be addressed. For example, an officer may ask a transgender person which name and pronoun the transgender person prefers.”

BART police Chief Kenton W. Rainey. Photo: BART

BART police Chief Kenton W. Rainey. Photo: BART

BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey stated, “This policy is a reflection of our commitment to the community policing philosophy. Taking the time to involve our community stakeholders in this process only serves to strengthen our partnerships with various diverse communities we serve.”

In the news release, BART Independent Police Auditor Mark P. Smith said, “No specific problem or complaint spurred the action. The idea came from working with the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement and the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service. The recommendation came from BART’s Citizen Review Board.

Officials said when the policy was being drafted last year, most other law enforcement agencies didn’t have similar policies.

“We feel that we have made a historic accomplishment,” Sharon Kidd, who chairs the Citizen Review Board, stated. “… We have such diversity in the Bay Area. It is very important for us to follow the model of what our charge is to do, which is to enhance the transparency of the BART Police Department.”

The policy also changes BART police recordkeeping, so that forms will include transgender data.

“While federal data, such as Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, may not include such options yet, this could possibly influence society in a larger way,” according to BART.

The policy also addresses how to treat people when they’re wearing prosthetics, makeup, and wigs, and when those items may need to be removed. It’s also designed to ensure transgender people who are detained have access to hormone therapy and other medical attention, “with the same urgency and respect as medical issues for other detained persons,” officials said.

The Oakland-based Transgender Law Center and the National Center for Transgender Equality were among those who provided input for the policy.

In a statement to the Bay Area Reporter today (Thursday, June 25), Krish Hayashi, TLC’s executive director, said, “This policy is a really important first step to reduce the harassment, abuse, targeting, and criminalization of transgender people who are just trying to go about their day, especially when you consider the larger context of police brutality against communities of color, specifically black communities. … As we have seen time and time again it is dangerous when police don’t know how to interact with and respect the needs of a community. Transgender people face alarming rates of incarceration and harassment, and we hope this policy pushes forward the conversation about ending violence, including state-sanctioned violence, against transgender people in the Bay Area.”

As the B.A.R. noted in a story today, data on how often transgender people face harassment in the Bay Area jails is hard to come by.

NCTE didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 25, 2015 @ 5:00 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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