As law enforcement officials express their alarm over what they call a "war on police"
highlighted by a spate of recent murders of and assaults against officers, a new priority has emerged for their departments: transgender policy training.
"Standing in front of a roomful of police officers to educate them on the most sensitive of issues, Chris Rudisill started with the basics," Tampa Bay Times staff writer Tony Marrero reports
"A transgender man was born female and identifies as a male, and vice versa. A person's internal gender makes them feel as if they were 'born in the wrong body,' but not all transgender people have made the physical transition to their right body. And don't ever underestimate the power of a simple pronoun. "
Rudisill was addressing a Friday training session for some 50 police supervisors and field training officers, part of Police Chief Anthony Holloway's new policy for dealing with transgender citizens.
"Your identity is the most important thing to everyone in this room," Rudisill told the officers, Marrero reports. "We have to realize it's the most important thing to a transgender person, too."
Marrero writes that "the new St. Petersburg policy requires officers to address a transgender person using his or her stated gender identity, including the preferred pronouns. The gender identity might be clear from clothing or other cues, but if not, an officer unsure about which pronoun to use should ask the person which they prefer."
Similar training is underway in Farmington, NM, via "information sessions taught by staff members from the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico and Identity, Inc. address[ing] terminology, pronoun usage and legal issues surrounding the search and detainment of transgender individuals," the Farmington Daily Times reports
Adrien Lawyer, co-director of the Transgender Resource Center, told a Wednesday assembly of officers that he was born female but realized by age 2 that he was a boy.
"We are who we feel we are," Lawyer explained to the officers. "I feel like I am a man, just like every other man in this room."
As in St. Petersburg, the local police chief is a strong supporter of the training.
"We are here to protect everyone and make sure everyone's rights are upheld," Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said, the Daily Times reports.
"We just want to make sure that officers have the right tools in their toolbox so when we stop someone who is transgender, we treat them very professionally and with respect," St. Petersburg chief Holloway asserted.
"Times are changing, and we need to change with the times."
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