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Know Your Rights

Policy & Legislation

Improvements Made to Milwaukee Police Department’s Procedures Towards Trans, Gender Non-Conforming, & Intersex Communities

May 22, 2018

Milwaukee City Hall tower

Milwaukee’s Fire & Police Commission voted unanimously last Friday afternoon to pass new, and improved guidelines for MPD interactions with folks from the transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex communities. The vote comes in the same month that the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era federal guidance, giving protections to transgender people in prisons.  Despite evidence that transgender inmates report being sexually assaulted over 10 times higher than the rate of all inmates in prison, the Trump guidelines make it more difficult to be housed based on their gender identity instead of the sex assigned to them at birth. This makes the new procedures adopted by the Milwaukee Police Department even more significant.

The vote by the Fire & Police Commission marks the end of a 19-month collaboration between local LGBT advocacy groups (including FORGE, The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, GenderQueerMKE, and others) and the Milwaukee Police Department to improve the Standard Operating Procedure 117 (Interactions with Transgender, Intersex, and/or Gender Non-Conforming ‘TIGN’ Persons).  The new guidance offers many improvements over the former procedure including:

  • Making sure the new Milwaukee Municipal ID is recognized & that officers will receive training on the additional gender makers
  • An individual’s name and pronouns should be asked used, and respected
  • Individuals will not be required to provide proof of their gender
  • Using and/or providing a chosen name will shall not constitute misrepresentation
  • Requests to remove appearance-related items (wigs, binders, etc.) will not be made in the field
  • An individual’s gender identity and sexual orientation will not be disclosed
  • Officers shall honor requests regarding the gender of a searching officer absent exigent circumstances
  • Presence of needles will not be assumed to be illegal drug paraphernalia
  • Arrestee’s gender identity and other identifying preference will be communicated to lock up or detention facility
  • Arrestee’s shall
  • be asked where they feel most safe and every effort will be made to place them in a cellblock area consistent with their request
  • If arrestee expresses no concern they will be housed consistent with their gender identity
  • Arrestees will receive the same standards of care, including hormone therapy

The new MPD Standard Operating Procedures goes into effect beginning June 4th.