‘Do You Prefer Ma’am or Sir?’: New DOJ Video Shows Cops How to Treat Transgender People
The Justice Department’s Community Relations Service released a new video this week explaining to the law enforcement community the proper way to handle encounters with transgender people.
Amid an uptick in reports of discrimination by police toward the transgender community, the CRS has released a 12-minute training video discouraging officers from stereotyping people and telling them to “keep their questions relevant” to the situation at hand.
Throughout the course of the video, viewers see several staged scenarios, including how an officer should address a transgender person during a routine traffic stop, following an assault report and what they should do if they’re called to a bathroom situation due to a transgender user.
“I don’t have to be in the room to know what just happened. Someone snickered, laughed or made, a joke,” Sgt. Brett Parson said at the start of the video. “Trust me, I know, I’m a cop too. As police officers, we use humor to deal with things that make us feel uncomfortable or afraid. … To outsiders, it’s perceived as unprofessional and disrespectful.”
When a law enforcement official first encounters a transgender person, and is unsure how to address the individual, officers are encouraged to ask, “Do you prefer if I call you ma’am or sir?”
In one of the scenarios, a transgender woman calls the police to report an assault. Upon arriving, the two officers — a man and a woman — begin asking the individual about the incident. When the male officer sees the person’s driver’s license, he refers to the person by the unpreferred pronoun.
“In one of the examples, the video demonstrates an officer laughing [at] a transgender individual who appears to be the victim of a crime, and the officer’s partner pulls him aside to correct his behavior,” Parson explains after the scenario plays out.
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