Transgender people face prejudice and fear in everyday life, but being transgender in prison puts you at an increased risk for violence, rape and emotional abuse.
For this reason, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) announced Thursday major changes to the way the police will interact with the transgender community, including a separate holding facility where transgender inmates will be able to receive male and female clothing and special medical treatments like hormones, KTLA reports.
Other changes include:
- Officers will be instructed to address transgender inmates by their preferred name if it's different than their birth name and to use gender pronouns appropriate to the inmate's gender self-identity.
- Requests to remove prosthetics and clothing that conveys gender identity, wigs, and cosmetics will only be made if it is also being asked of non-transgender inmates.
- Police will also no longer be permitted to pat down a transgender inmate for the sole purpose of determining his or her anatomic sex.
“This is a huge victory for transgender people who may interact with the police, and for transgender inmates," said Masen Davis, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center in a press release. “We often receive calls from people who have experienced police harassment and experienced violence in prison, so we are thrilled that the LAPD is taking steps to remedy this tragic situation.”
The separate holding facility will be a special women's module at the downtown Metropolitan Detention Center, where transgender men and women will be held until they are arraigned (typically three days), the Los Angeles Times reports. However, they will eventually be transferred to county jails, which do not have a separate transgender facility.
Assistant Chief Michel Moore said that most transgender arrests have occurred in the Hollywood area and that those transgender arrestees have been housed in the Hollywood jail, which is a male jail, Patch reports. “Male-to-female arrestees are generally housed in male housing. That is the state of operations across the county,” Moore said. “The transgender community has said they feel disrespected by that and now we’re addressing that concern.”
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck conceded that initial resistance from officers to the new policies is likely. "No big organization is able to undergo a complete culture change just because of the issuance of a piece of paper," he told Patch.
“Will this get violated? Oh yeah,” said Beck. “Will I take action against the violator? Yes. Will I train people so they understand the application, so they see why this is important? Of course.”