8 Changes Transgender People Need from Law Enforcement

Transgender people are targeted, profiled, harassed, and abused by law enforcement nationwide. A new report from NCTE shows how police departments can evolve to meet the needs of their community.

As laws and policies evolve and modernize, transgender people are increasingly becoming more visible and active members of our communities. School districts across the country are adopting policies promoting safety, acceptance, and inclusivity for their transgender students, workplaces are developing HR policies to protect and preserve the dignity of their transgender employees, and many transgender people themselves are promoting their own visibility through increased public service and leadership in their communities — including in elected office.

Unfortunately, this is still a population that frequently faces bias and harassment. Transgender people are more likely to experience poverty and homelessness, as well as violence and exposure to health risks such as HIV and drug use disorders. A lack of adequate housing and employment protections means many engage in the sex trade and transgender people overall are more likely to be in contact with law enforcement than the general population.

For a variety of reasons, many transgender people are hesitant to contact or cooperate with law enforcement — even when they are in need of help or assistance. According to our 2015 US Transgender Survey, nearly two thirds of transgender people who interacted with police in the last year were mistreated in some way, ranging from verbal to physical to sexual harassment. One in ten said they were profiled as sex workers, and one in twenty were physically assaulted by a police officer.

With these experiences in mind, a majority of transgender people are hesitant to voluntarily engage with police at all. Such mistrust in law enforcement only serves to isolate transgender people from their communities in a way that is not only harmful to them but harmful to law enforcement and their communities.

To address the harms experienced from Law Enforcement, NCTE published Failing to Protect and Serve. a report meant to help police departments develop policies in a sensible fashion. This included a model policy guide, and an analysis of the existing policies of the 25…

National Center for Transgender Equality

We’re the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people. Also at https://transequality.org.