On the eve of Atlanta Pride, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner announced in a press release new policies for interactions between the department’s officers and transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming individuals.

Here are the new policies and procedures per the APD:

  • Treating transgender, intersex and gender nonconforming individuals in a manner appropriate to the individual’s gender identity, which may be different from the sex that the individual was assigned at birth or listed on their official government-issued identification.
  • Using pronouns that match the gender identity of the individual (e.g., “she, her, hers” for an individual whose gender identity is female; “he, him, his” for an individual whose gender identity is male).
  • Regardless of the individual’s public appearance, classify an individual’s gender identity in accordance with statements or requests made by the individual. For example, an employee will correct his or her initial assumption about an individual’s gender identity if the individual asks the employee to use different pronouns.
  • When requested, address transgender, intersex and gender nonconforming individuals by their chosen name rather than the name which is on their government-issued identification.
  • Employees searching or arresting a transgender, intersex or gender nonconforming individual, or performing similar official actions or duties (excluding preparation of written documents) in connection with a transgender, intersex or gender nonconforming individual, shall deem the individual’s gender to be male or female based upon the individual’s gender identity.
  • Employees making transport decisions regarding a transgender, intersex or gender nonconforming individual shall deem the individual’s gender to be male or female based upon the individual’s gender identity.

“This important policy is a formal recognition that this community will be entitled to the same level of respect, courtesy and professionalism extended to all citizens with whom our officers interact,” Chief Turner said in a press release. “We live in a diverse, major metropolitan city and our policies must reflect the need to embrace, and work cooperatively with, every citizen we serve within that broad community.”

All APD personnel will receive training on the new procedures, with assistance from the department’s LGBT liaison officers, Senior Police Officer Brian Sharp and Officer Eric King.

“The adoption of this policy is another step forward in our efforts to celebrate diversity,” said Mayor Kasim Reed in the press release. “I commend the Atlanta Police Department for their commitment to equal and respectful treatment of Atlanta’s transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming individuals, citizens and visitors.”

An incident earlier this year on a MARTA train where two transgender women were assaulted by several men brought back to the forefront the issue of violence against the trans community and police response to it. The women criticized MARTA police in this instance, but the incident brought up a broader discussion about any police department interactions with the trans community. Two town hall discussions were later held about the incident.

The Atlanta-based, trans-led Solutions Not Punishment Coalition (SNaP) released a “Ride With Respect” video afterwards, in which trans activist Everette Thompson alleges the Atlanta police have a “culture of disrespecting trans people. They harass us, they profile us.”

The Midtown Ponce Security Alliance has been in an ongoing battle about what they say are violent transgender prostitutes in their neighborhoods, despite APD refuting this and saying that there is no evidence of gangs or increased violence.

psaunders@thegavoice.com | @patricksaunders

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