Abstract

Many experts agree that being transgender is a reflection of a normal variation of human
development and not a mental illness. However, transgender individuals continue to
experience a wide range of unique challenges in their everyday lives, in workplaces,
healthcare settings, a judicial system, housing, and on occasion, in their interactions with
law enforcement. Some transgender individuals have a general lack of trust of police,
perhaps arising from first-hand experiences or the experiences of friends and community
members, or as a result of the media publicizing accounts of harassment and incidents of
abuse. Police departments should consider sensitivity training of law enforcement
professionals to increase awareness and appreciation of gender diversity, to avoid
personal biases and assumptions, and to avoid costly litigation from civil rights violations.
Such training would help police officers improve interactions and communications with
transgender individuals when officers are assisting these individuals or in cases where an
arrest must be made. Transgender individuals should also be aware that they too have
responsibilities during interactions with police, and their behavior can positively or
negatively impact the outcome of such encounters. To help improve relations and bolster
trust between the transgender community and law enforcement, police officers should
consider speaking at local or national transgender organizations and conferences.