LGBT, civil rights groups to hold town hall on new Chicago Police transgender policy

Photo: Tony Merevick.

Photo: Tony Merevick.

A handful of LGBT and civl rights organizations including The Civil Rights Agenda will host a discussion and town hall meeting this week to build community awareness of the Chicago Police Department’s new transgender general order, a policy that outlines how police interact with transgender and gender nonconforming detainees.

The event, scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Building, 430 S. Michigan Ave., Room 244, will be the first public gathering held specifically to discuss the CPD general order, which went into effect Aug. 22.

Representatives from TCRA’s Transgender Rights Project, the People’s Law Office, the Transformative Justice Law Project, the Loundy Human Rights Project and Illinois Gender Advocates will lead the discussion and review the new policy as well as thoroughly explain specific points as they relate to individual rights.

“We hope that a lot of folks come to be able to educate themselves on this,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of TCRA. “It is a very imporatnat discussion to have, specifically as we look at what needs to be addressed within the policy — which currently isn’t necessarily the best policy.”

Local transgender rights advocates and allies worked for over two years lobbying police, the mayor’s office and city council to get such a policy in place and many were surprised when CPD quietly adopted the general order in August.

However, what actually made it into the books lacks aspects those advocates strongly sought after, such as a mechanism for community oversight and provisions that would allow detainees to identify their gender expression when held in police facilities. The policy is overly-dependent on government-IDs, the advocates said.

Shortly after news broke of the police adopting the policy, many of those advocates simply considered it a “first step.”

Martinez said the point of the meeting is arm people with information about their rights under the policy.

“There are certain rights within the policy that people need to state if they want them,” he said. “We want to be able to educate people about those rights so that they can use them if they need them.”

Indeed, some rights must be invoked, such as the right to be searched by an officer that matches the individual’s self-identified gender rather than by an officer of the gender on that individual’s ID.

The speakers will also explore similar policies in other cities across the country and then give the floor to people who’d like to share their experiences with the police.

Three more meetings will be held to discuss the policy on the city’s south, west and north sides so that all the communities affected by its implications will have a chance to be educated, according to Martinez.

“We want people to know that this policy is there and that they’re able to protect themselves by knowing their rights under the policy,” he said.

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.