St. Paul Police Are Drafting a Policy for Interacting With Trans People

"It's a step in the right direction," said Dot Belstler, executive director of Twin Cities Pride.

Police in St. Paul, M.N., are drafting an official policy for police interactions with the trans and gender non-conforming community, reports the Star Tribune.

Yesterday, the St. Paul Police Department released a draft of the policy, designed to “emphasize the importance of treating all individuals with respect and dignity.” The proposed policy, a first of its kind for the Twin Cities, addresses topics like dead-naming, gender presentation, and safe and appropriate bathrooms.

If passed, trans people in St. Paul will be allowed to “request a preference of officer gender for searches,” and police will be required to address them by “preferred pronouns or adopted names as expressed by the individual,” among other guidelines.

“People of color and trans folks do not feel safe around police, and we really need to work on those relations, so I think that by having St. Paul issue this policy, it’s a step in the right direction,” Dot Belstler, executive director of Twin Cities Pride, told the Star Tribune.

Dru Levasseur, director of Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights project, agrees. “We’re seeing these [policies] around the country,” he said. “It’s good for transgender and gender nonconforming people to see that they have protections in their interactions with police.”

Though police say no one incident prompted the potential shift in policy, locals point to the imprisonment of CeCe McDonald, a 23-year-old black trans woman who was convicted of manslaughter after reportedly defending herself from an attacker, as a watershed moment.

Across the country, trans people are too often victims of mistreatment, rash judgments, or outright violence by authorities. Last August, a trans woman of color was shot and killed by St. Louis police after allegedly attacking an officer, though some claimed her death was unwarranted. And last October, a Texas trans woman was repeatedly misgendered by local police, who called her “a man in a dress” in a police report.

The St. Paul Police Department will host a community meeting on Tuesday, July 31 at 6pm to discuss the draft. In the meantime, they’ve created a digital forum for residents to offer feedback.

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