BART Police Adopt Policy for Interactions with Transgender People
By MELISSA JORDAN
BART Senior Web Producer
BART Police have adopted a recommendation from the Citizen Review Board for police interactions with transgender people.
"This policy is a reflection of our commitment to the community policing philosophy," BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said Wednesday. "Taking the time to involve our community stakeholders in this process only serves to strengthen our partnerships with various diverse communities we serve."
At the time the policy was drafted last year, the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, D.C., said most law enforcement agencies do not have such policies in place.
"We feel that we have made a historic accomplishment," said Sharon Kidd, chairwoman of the Citizen Review Board. "With the hard work of Les Mensinger, George Perezvelez and the other CRB members, we were able to work together with Chief Rainey and his staff to make this happen."
"This is a wonderful policy because it helps everyone in our community by being more inclusive," Kidd said. "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."
No specific problem or complaint spurred the action, said BART Independent Police Auditor Mark P. Smith. Rather, the idea to draft a policy came through work with the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) and the Department of Justice's Community Relations Service.
The language of the policy, which was initially researched and drafted by BART Independent Police Investigator Russell Bloom, is aimed at fostering respect and good will by addressing people how they wish to be addressed with regard to gender.
The policy states, for example, "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."
The policy also would change BART Police Department recordkeeping to make forms broad enough to include transgender identity. While federal data, such as Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, may not include such options yet, this could possibly influence society in a larger way.
Awareness of and treatment of transgender people has been a growing issue, thrown into the spotlight most recently in the celebrity world by the gender transition of Caitlyn Jenner.
The BART Police policy extends to items such as how one is treated when wearing prosthetics, wigs, and makeup, and when those items may or may not be required to be removed; and making sure detained transgender persons have access to medical attention or medications, including hormone therapy, with the same urgency and respect as medical issues for other detained persons.
The policy is the result of input with stakeholders in the transgender community, as well as with police and other community stakeholders, including the Transgender Law Center in Oakland and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Terms included in the policy:
One's internal, deeply held sense of one's gender. Unlike gender expression (see below) gender identity is not visible to others.
External manifestations of gender, expressed through one's name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice or body characteristics.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including transgender.