A sensitivity training video recently released by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) teaches police officers nationwide to ask men who identify as women and vice versa which gender pronoun they prefer, and to allow them to use the restroom that correlates with their gender identity.
The video, Law Enforcement and the Transgender Community, was produced by the DOJ’s Community Relations Service and features role playing skits to show officers how they are to respond to certain scenarios involving transgendered persons.
“Transgender people are just trying to be their true selves and live their lives as members of our communities just like anyone else,” states narrator Sgt. Brett Parson on Washington D.C. in the footage. “As law enforcement officers, we must make every effort to collaborate and learn from the transgender community so we can better serve others today and in the future.”
The opening skit portrays an officer pulling over a person who looks like a woman but whose drivers license identification is that of a man.
“Do you prefer if I call you ma’am or sir?” Cpl. Evan Baxter of the Prince George’s County Police Department asks.
“Ma’am, please,” replies the man with the appearance of a woman.
“When in doubt, it’s always best to ask an individual what their preference is. Just simply ask, ‘How would you like to be addressed?'” Parson explains in the teaching segment. “Using the correct or preferred pronouns demonstrates respect and lets the individual know that you are knowledgeable about their community, which is both reassuring and shows that you are a true professional.”
“When someone’s name or gender on a license is different from what you expect, how do you react?” If you’re not certain what the proper way to address someone is, just ask,” Baxter also states.
The video also covers what is known as “trans while walking,” situations where officers might mistake the person for a prostitute, and how to handle those who call the police over “what I think is a man in the ladies’ bathroom.”
“I’m a woman; I was just in there using the restroom,” the transgendered person in the skit tells the officer after being questioned.
“I apologize,” the officer replies. “[There was] probably a misunderstanding.”
“If officers understand who transgender people are as a part of their community, interactions can be a whole lot better,” Parson says.
The video cites the National Center for Transgender Equality and PFLAG National as being supportive of the training footage.
As previously reported, last month, a federal judge placed a preliminary injunction on the Obama administration’s national directive requiring public school districts to allow male students who identify as female to use the girls’ restroom and vice versa.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor determined that the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice had not followed the proper channels in issuing the nationwide guidance, and suggested that the departments’ interpretation of federal law was incorrect.
“It cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex … following passage of Title IX meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth,” he wrote.