NYPD Patrol Guide Changes Respect Rights of Transgender New Yorkers

June 12, 2012 —  The New York Civil Liberties Union today applauded changes to the NYPD’s Patrol Guide that will help ensure that police officers treat transgender and gender non-conforming people with dignity and respect.

"These patrol guide changes will help ensure that NYPD officers treat transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers with courtesy, professionalism and respect," said Melissa Goodman, NYCLU senior litigation and policy counsel. "Now NYPD officers must respect a person’s gender identity when they make an arrest or detain people. This protects basic civil liberties and strengthens trust between police officers and the public they serve."

The patrol guide changes are the result of negotiations between LGBT advocacy groups, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office and the NYPD. They address an array of unique problems that transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers face when they are arrested, processed and detained in police precincts. The revisions include:

  • Prohibiting the use of discourteous or disrespectful remarks regarding a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
  • Instructing police officers refer to transgender New Yorkers by names, honorifics and pronouns that reflect their gender identity (even if it does not match the information on their ID documents) and amending forms so that people’s "preferred name" can be recorded and used while they are in police custody.
  • Prohibiting police officers from conducting any search for the purpose of determining a person’s gender. This also applies to school safety officers, NYPD personnel assigned to the city’s public schools.
  • Individuals in NYPD custody will be searched by an officer of the gender they request. If their request is not honored, the reasons will be noted in the command log.
  • Defining "gender" to include gender identity and expression, consistent with the city’s Human Rights Law. This means that when the NYPD have to take into account someone's gender, it is their gender identity that matters, if even if one’s gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth.
  • Individuals in NYPD custody will be held in sex segregated police facilities according to their gender identity, even if it differs from their sex assigned at birth, unless there is a concern for the person’s safety, in which case they will be considered "special category prisoners" and placed accordingly.
  • "Special category prisoners," including transgender people, will not be cuffed to rails, bars or chairs for unreasonable periods of time.

The NYCLU and advocates from the LGBT community will work with the NYPD on training and enforcement to ensure that the Patrol Guide changes are effectively implemented. The NYCLU also will continue to advocate for the Community Safety Act, civil rights legislation pending before the New York City Council that would broaden the communities protected against police profiling by including a prohibition on discrimination based on gender identity or expression, sexual orientation among several other categories.