CNN is praising the new guidelines that the Philadelphia Police Department has passed referring to gender.

The purpose? 

“To reduce bias toward transgender and non-binary people in their interactions with police.”

The policy was created through a partnership between the police department and the mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, along with members of both communities.

The new police was crafted to guide daily interactions police have with transgender or non-binary people.

According to a statement released by the city Tuesday, it will be effective regardless of whether they are suspects, in custody, victims or witnesses.

Here’s how it breaks down.

The policy calls for officers to honor a person’s gender identity and ignore their biology.

It forces them to record and publicize the person’s chosenname and pronoun, rather than their actual legal name and their actual sex.

It will also impact how an officer searches them, based on the gender they identify as.

It gets better.  The policy forces officers to bring transgender people in custody to the nearest medical facility if they are in need of medical care.  Sounds fine, right?  But that includes hormone therapy.

On top of that, they have to house and transport transgender people who are in custody separately from other incarcerated people, giving them special treatment.

Why?  According to the policy, it’s because “transgender and non-binary people have historically faced humiliating, hurtful treatment during their interactions with law enforcement”.

The statement goes on to say:

“The new PPD policy aims to provide clear instructions to personnel in order to prevent such incidents in Philadelphia.”

According to the CNN report:

“A recently released report from the National Center for Transgender Equality, based on 2015 US survey, found that more than half of transgender people who have interacted with police were mistreated.” 

Of course the allegations by CNN and the study aren’t backed by actual legal facts.  Perhaps it would have been more accurate to add the words “felt like” before “were mistreated”.

According to the study, it included verbal harassment, being called by the wrong gender and physical or sexual assault, including being forced by officers to engage in sexual activity to avoid arrest.

Again, there was no physical data or legal evidence to back these “feelings”.

The organization also claims one in eight black transgender people have reported physical or sexual assault.

That organization says the policy is just the first step.

NCTE spokeswoman Gillian Branstetter said there is still a long way to go.

“As the recent revelations about biased social media posts from numerous current and former local officers in the Philadelphia PD illustrates, our nation’s law enforcement still has much to do to reduce the role of police in people’s daily lives and heal the mistrust between law enforcement and minority communities, including the transgender community,” Branstetter said.

California set the precedent in January.

That’s when the California Senate Judiciary Committee announced that they would be banning the use of the gender-based pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she.’ Committee Chair Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties) announced, “We are now a state recognizing the non-binary designation as a gender…we are using the designation ‘they’ in place of other designations, so that it is a gender-neutral designation.”

It is not too far of a stretch to believe that this could migrate to the banning of the ‘male’ and ‘female’ or ‘man’ and ‘woman.’ Soon, they may only allow ‘they’, ‘them’, ‘people’ and ‘person’.

Imagine for just a moment that this type of language restrictions leaves the inside of the committee room and trickles down to other levels of government.

What if the Chief of Police or Sheriff were to enact this type of ban on the men and women serving their communities in law enforcement roles? Could they effectively do their job?

What would a report look like? If you could not use gender specific identifiers, could the report you are writing effectively be used in court? Could you obtain a search warrant or an arrest warrant?

One police detective in Texas said that the “judges I work with would not sign off on a warrant if the probable cause affidavit only alluded to vague terminology like ‘suspect’, ‘person’ or ‘they/them’”.

What would this do to your every day contact with the public? Officers try to be respectful of everyone they encounter. What happens if you cannot politely refer to someone as ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am?’  And if you are responding to a call, how do you possibly investigate in such a generic manner?

Let’s take that a step further. What happens if you broadcast a BOLO over the radio? Again, no gender identifications are allowed.

How do you communicate effectively to others on patrol? A white male in a red jacket would simply become white suspect in a red jacket but could be a man or a woman.

And if you trade the word white with black, Hispanic or Asian? Does this open the door to charges of racial profiling?

And what about communicating with the public?  When you have a suspect at large and remove the ability to identify the suspect accurately, how do people know who to contact you about?

And finally, let’s assume that you can actually get a warrant and make an arrest, fast forward several months to the court date.

If your reports, body camera video, dashboard camera video and testimony all use generic gender identifiers, how can the DA possibly get a jury to return with a guilty verdict?

Every defense lawyer will use this as a tactic to create reasonable doubt based on the arresting officers not being able to identify the gender of their client.

Let’s face it. The work that the men and women in law enforcement do is hard enough and is often thankless. Potentially requiring them to use language and verbiage that is gender neutral would only increase the degree of difficulty. 

Legislators should be doing everything they can to make it easier for officers to do their job. It is laws like these that wind up putting the handcuffs on the wrong group of people.