Boston Police Adopt New Transgender Policy After Losing Lawsuit

The Boston Police working with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) have adopted a new transgender policy in response to to a lawsuit filled by Trans woman Brenda Wernikoff.

Ms. Wernikoff had been staying at the Boston Woods Mullen homeless shelter for a year when a employee called the police on her for using the ladies room. According to the Lawsuit Ms. Wernikoff was arrested and humiliated, made to strip and jump up and down for the officers who then called her by male pronouns. Ms. Wernikoff won this lawsuit and was awarded $30,000 dollars.



Section 1. General Considerations
The purpose of this Special Order is to establish guidelines for the appropriate treatment of
transgender individuals who come into contact with the Boston Police Department. The policy of
the Boston Police Department is to treat all individuals with dignity, respect, and
professionalism. Officers shall at all times abide by Boston Police Department Rule 102 §9
(Respectful Treatment), as well as the City of Boston Office of Human Resources’ “Guidelines
to Prevent Gender Identity Discrimination” when interacting with transgender individuals. The
following considerations are simply a codification of existing procedures and practices:

Section 2 Definitions

Adopted Name – Non-birth name that a transgender individual uses in self-reference (this may
or may not be in the individual’s legal name).

Gender Expression – External characteristics and behaviors that are socially viewed as
masculine or feminine. Gender expression is the external manifestation of one’s gender identity.

Gender Identity – A person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not
that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated
with the person’s physiology or assigned gender at birth. Gender-related identity may be shown
by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the
gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any
other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, as part of a person’s core
identity; provided however, gender-related identity shall not be asserted for any improper

Gender – An individual’s biological or anatomical identity as male or female
Transgender Individual – A person whose gender identity differs from his/her assigned gender
Female-to-Male (“FTM”) – A person who transitions from “female-to-male,” meaning
a person who was assigned female at birth, but identifies and lives as a male. A “femaleto-male” individual should be addressed using masculine pronouns (i.e. he, him, his),
regardless of surgical status.Male-to-Female (“MTF”) – A person who transitions from “male-to-female,” meaning
a person who was assigned male at birth, but identifies and lives as a female. A “male-tofemale” individual should be addressed using feminine pronouns (i.e. she, her, hers),
regardless of surgical status.

Section 3 Forms of Address

Officers shall address transgender individuals by the individual’s adopted name. This is true even
if the individual has not received legal recognition of the adopted name. In addressing or
discussing a transgender person, officers will use pronouns appropriate for that person’s gender
identity (e.g., she, her, hers for a prisoner who is male-to-female; he, him, his for a prisoner who
is female-to-male). If officers are uncertain about which pronouns are appropriate, then officers
will respectfully ask the individual.

Section 4 Calls for Service

Calls for service or complaints generated by transgender individuals shall be addressed and
investigated in a manner that is consistent with all Department policies. No officer shall fail to
respond to a call for service based on the gender identity or expression of the caller.

Section 5 Stop and Frisk

Officers shall continue to use standard practices and procedures when conducting “Field Stops”
and “Frisks”, and shall abide by Rule 323 at all times. Additionally, a search or frisk shall not be
performed for the sole purpose of determining an individual’s anatomical gender, and
transgender individuals shall not be subject to more invasive search or frisk procedures than nontransgender individuals.
Section 6 Prisoners

Sec. 6.1. Transportation
Whenever possible, a transgender prisoner shall be transported alone. Officers shall
ensure that additional units are called in order to assist with transporting transgender

Sec. 6.2. Booking
The Booking Officer will process transgender prisoners, including persons held in
protective custody and juveniles held in custody, according to normal booking procedures
as outlined in Rule 318. When booking a transgender prisoner, the Booking Officer will
include the prisoner’s adopted name (i.e. name that the individual uses in self-reference)
in the booking, either as the primary name or as the “also known as” (a.k.a.) name. The
transgender prisoner will be booked under the name appearing on the prisoner’s
government-issued identification, as well as under an a.k.a. name where applicable. If no identification is available, then the Booking Officer will use the adopted name for
booking purposes, either as the primary or the a.k.a. name. The prisoner’s birth name will
be used only if it is the prisoner’s legal name or it is required by a legitimate law
enforcement purpose, including but not limited to, a prior arrest record.

Sec. 6.3. Searches
All searches of the transgender prisoner’s person will be conducted by two officers of the
gender requested by the transgender prisoner, whenever possible. If two officers of the
preferred gender are not available, the search shall nonetheless be conducted by two
available officers. If the prisoner does not specify a preference, then the search will be
conducted by officers of the same gender as the transgender prisoner’s gender expression
(e.g., a female-to-male prisoner’s expressing no preference should be searched by a male
Officer). The prisoner will also be required to complete the “Statement of Search
Preference Form” prior to any search (Form #0076-BFS-0413). Any prisoner who refuses
to complete the “Statement of Search Preference Form” shall be searched by officers of
the same gender as the transgender prisoner’s gender expression. Officers shall refer to
Rule 318D regarding proper search procedures.

Sec. 6.4. Conditions during Holding
Whenever possible, a transgender prisoner shall be held in a cell without other prisoners.
The Booking Officer and Duty Supervisor shall make all efforts to ensure that the
prisoner is held without other prisoners, including looking at availability in any and all
other district stations. Transgender prisoners requiring medical attention shall be handled
as any other prisoner requiring medical attention in accordance with Rule 318.

Edward F. Davis
Police Commissioner

Full policy in PDF Here.

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