Trenton, NJ – New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has issued a new directive ordering the state’s law enforcement officers to address transgender people by their chosen names and preferred pronouns, as well as a slew of other new requirements.
“Unfortunately, transgender individuals regularly report that they are somewhat or very uncomfortable asking the police for help when they need it,” Grewal wrote in the 14-page LGBTQ Equality Directive, which was issued on Wednesday.
“[Overcoming] that is a difficult task that requires, among other things, building trust with marginalized communities so that everyone in New Jersey will feel comfortable approaching law enforcement,” the state attorney general said.
Law enforcement officers will undergo mandatory training to understand the differences between gender non-conforming, non-binary, and transgender, WKXW reported.
“We are committed to using all of the tools of our office to safeguard the rights and safety of all New Jerseyans, including members of our LGBTQ community,” Grewal said, according to the New Jersey Spotlight. “That means not only pushing back against the discriminatory policies of the Trump Administration, but also pushing forward our vision of a fair, safe and welcoming state.”
Under Grewal’s directive, New Jersey law enforcement officers can no longer inquire about an individual’s anatomy unless it is pertinent to an investigation, WKXW reported.
They cannot use “invasive search procedures” to determine a suspect’s gender, and must address people using the aliases those individuals have chosen, regardless of the names listed on official records.
“Transgender individuals’ chosen names and pronouns are critical to their dignity and identity,” Grewal wrote in the directive. “Address individuals using their chosen names that reflect their gender identity…even if that name changes over time.”
Police must make every attempt to provide gender non-conforming, binary and transgender individuals with private bathrooms at police stations, and cannot deny them access to cosmetics, wigs, prosthetics, chest binders, or bras, WKXW reported.
When transporting or housing suspects who are segregated by gender, officers must “transport individuals according to their gender identity or expression, regardless of the gender that individual was assigned at birth and/or their anatomical characteristics,” according to the directive.
Transgender individuals should be transported alone “when requested” and when “practicable,” and if such a request is denied, that denial must be approved by a supervisor and documented in writing.
Grewal ordered that the same procedure be followed with regards to accommodating inmates’ requests for “private” jail cells.
Non-binary and gender non-conforming suspects should be transported and housed “with arrestees of the gender that is safest for them, taking into account which gender that individual expresses to be safest for them,” the state attorney general wrote.
Inmates cannot be denied prescribed hormone medications that have been deemed “necessary for an individual’s health and wellbeing,” according to the directive.
The directive will go into effect on June 1, 2020.
“As New Jersey’s chief law enforcement officer, it’s my job to protect the safety and the civil rights of all New Jersey residents, including members of the LGBTQ community,” Grewal said in a video statement. “With the rise in hate crimes motivated by homophobia and transphobia, that responsibility is more important now than ever.”
“We’ll treat everyone in line with their gender identity, no matter the gender they were assigned at birth,” he continued. “We’ll accord LGBTQ people the respect and dignity that we all deserve."
Garden State Equality Director of Communications Jon Oliveira praised the directive as a step in the right direction.
"LGBTQ community and law enforcement have had a very troubled history dating back decades, with bar raids and violence,” Oliveira told WKXW. "We get calls and stories all the time where New Jerseyans have had issues related to their sexual orientation or gender identity when they've come in contact with law enforcement.”
The sweeping changes will help law enforcement officers “to do their jobs better,” while also improving the lives of the LGBTQ community, Oliveira decalred.