Boston Police Department Adopt Transgender Inclusive Policy

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday June 12, 2013

The Boston Police Department officials have revealed new policies that aim to make transgender criminals suspects feel more inclusive, the Boston Herald reports.

Under the new rules, transgender criminal suspects can demand that police call them by their adopted names, choose whether a male or female officer frisk them and get a personal, private ride to court. Boston Police Commissioner, Edward F, revealed the policies this week.

"Our main goal is that everyone should be treated?equally, and everyone should be treated with ?respect and dignity, whether?you're at the front desk or on the other side of the front desk," officer Javier Pagan, the Boston Police Department's liaison to the LGBT community. "Everyone should be treated?with the same respect."

The new rules come five months after the BPD had to pay Brenda Wernikoff, a transgender woman arrested in 2010 for using the women's bathroom at a homeless shelter, $20,000 to settle a federal lawsuit. The suit claimed Boston police forced Wernikoff to strip and "ordered Ms. Wernikoof to jump up and down, causing her breasts to jiggle."

Now, the new rules require officers to, "address transgender individuals by the individual's adopted name ... even if the individual has not ?received legal recognition of the adopted name; "respectfully ask the individual" when they are "uncertain about which pronouns are appropriate"; and ask transgender suspects if they want to be frisked by male or female officers.

The rules also require that all suspect searches "be conducted by two officers of the gender requested by the transgender prisoner, whenever possible." If that's not possible, the new rules state, "the search shall nonetheless be conducted by two available officers."

"It's just easier that way," Pagan said. "If a person lives their life as a female and they feel more comfortable having a female search them - and we're not talking about strip searches, we're just talking about pat-downs - if they feel more comfortable having a female do it, then that way you're sort of just giving them their dignity."

Pagan said the new policies have been in the works for several years and are modeled after Chicago and Washington D.C.'s regulations.

"When the powers that be have to start shelling out money, things maintain value. In other words, now, the way you treat or mistreat somebody has a value to it," Wernikoff told the Herald. "Financial exposure - that's the only thing that moves them. Common sense, logic and reason don't seem to work. Money seems to be the correct vehicle."