Chicago ordinance would create police transgender issues commission


By Tony Merevick
Chicago Phoenix

CHICAGO — Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno and a group of local LGBT rights activists are pushing for an ordinance that would establish a transgender issues commission in the Chicago Police Department as well as set guidelines for police to follow while handling transgender people.

“Basically, it is a human rights issue and we want everyone to be treated fairly,” said Moreno, who represents the city’s 1st Ward. “We need our police officers to be trained to treat transgender people with dignity and respect.”

Joe Moreno

Formally titled The Police Treatment of Transgender Individuals Ordinance, the measure would add gender identity definitions to police policy, require police to respect an individual’s unique gender identity, and would require police to undergo training for handling transgender people.

Members of The Civil Rights Agenda and the Chicago LGBT Citywide Coalition are leading the effort to make the policy law. Ald. James Cappleman (46th Ward) has also pledged his support for the ordinance, which Moreno will introduce during the next city council meeting March 14.

However, Moreno said that the ordinance should have been done months ago.

“I’m not the most patient person and I’m pretty strident with this,” he said.

Initially, the aldermen had planned to introduce the ordinance in January and then again during the Feb. 15 city council meeting, but delayed it in order to continue work with police leadership. Proponents of the ordinance will meet with the police later this week, according to Moreno.

“We want to go over it with Commander Kathy Boehmer,” said Cappleman. “I want to make sure that we address any concerns the police may have. We just want to make sure it’s right, so we’re having the police review.”

Following its introduction, it will then be moved forward to a committee vote, and if approved, will be voted on in the full city council, and will then go to the desk of Mayor Rahm Emanuel where it is expected to be signed into law, according to Anthony Martinez, the executive director at TCRA.

“This ordinance will ensure that trans folks are treated fairly and in the same manner as any other resident of Chicago by the CPD,” Martinez said. “Additionally, there are certain issues that transgender people face that no other individual faces when they are in police custody, and this will ensure that the CPD has a certain set of policies that address those issues.”

Owen Daniel-McCater of the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois said the ordinance is a step in the right direction.

“I am a transgender person but, largely because of my race, gender presentation, and other privileges, I do not experience systemic policing and surveillance in the same way many of my clients, community members, and allies do,” said Daniel-McCarter.

“However, as a trans person living in Chicago, I find hope in the fact that our city is willing to admit grave problems regarding racism, homophobia, and transphobia among members of the police force and is also willing to do something proactive to stop them.”

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