- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Justice Department has released a training video meant to be used by law enforcement to demonstrate best practices for interactions with members of the transgender community — including a scenario that involves a complaint about public bathroom use.

The training video emphasizes that, when interacting with transgender individuals, officers should keep their questions relevant to the report or investigation at hand and remain courteous. When in doubt, the video says, an officer should ask about the person’s gender pronoun preference.

“Transgender Americans, like all Americans, deserve to be treated with courtesy and respect by law enforcement officers,” said Paul Monteiro, acting director of the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service, which released the video. “The information provided in this video will help strengthen the relationship between police and the transgender community, allowing for more effective investigations and safer encounters for officers and citizens alike.”

The video, released online Thursday, runs through several interactions between police officers and transgender individuals, including a response to an assault, a traffic stop and a complaint about a transgender woman using a public restroom.

The bathroom scenario shows a woman calling 911 to report “a man in the ladies’ bathroom.” When the responding officer arrives, he asks the woman who made the complaint whether the person who entered the restroom did anything else to raise her concern.

The officer then approaches the transgender woman.

“The reason I’m here is we got a complaint in regards to a gentleman using the wrong restroom. Were you in the restroom?” the officer asks.

“Yes, officer, but I’m a woman. I was in there using the restroom,” the transgender woman responds.

“Was there anyone else in the restroom?” the officer says.

“No, I was in there alone,” she replies.

“Sorry for the inconvenience. I apologize. It was probably a misunderstanding,” the officer says.

The scenario doesn’t appear to take into account the potential for conflict over evolving rules and regulations regarding public bathroom use in schools.

A federal judge this week barred an Obama administration order that compelled public schools nationwide to regulate restroom and locker room access on the basis of gender identity rather than biological sex.

In addition, the Justice Department and North Carolina have filed dueling lawsuits over a state law that sought to require people to use public restrooms that match their gender at birth.

The training video, narrated by a well-regarded former supervisor of the Metropolitan Police Department’s gay and lesbian liaison unit in the District of Columbia, also reviews terms such as “assigned sex,” “gender identity” and “sexual orientation,” and concludes with tips for developing policies on searching or detaining transgender people.

“If someone feels disrespected, they are less likely to trust us or cooperate,” said Sgt. Brett Parson, the video’s narrator. “If officers understand who transgender people are as part of their community, interactions will be a whole lot better.”

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