News (USA)

California judge blocks new rule that would forcibly out trans police officers

Photo of a policewoman
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A California judge has temporarily blocked a new state rule that requires police officers to share their gender identities when reporting the traffic stops they made to the state’s antidiscrimination board.

Officers are required to report demographic information about the folks they stop in accordance the state’s Racial and Identity Profiling Act. On January 1, Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) added the requirement that the police officers themselves must report their own gender identities as part of the disclosure requirements.

The information would also be accessible by coworkers and supervisors, which would inevitably lead to the forced outing of officers. The Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) told the San Francisco Chronicle that under the new rule, officers could be fired if they refuse to share their gender identity and could lose their license if they lie about it. The reasons for the rule are not immediately clear.

A statement from PORAC president Brian Marvel expressed commitment “to protecting the rights of all our members to live as they wish, identify as they see fit, and to share that identity on their own terms.” The organization also fears the rule will deter trans and nonbinary folks from working as officers.

PORAC, along with the California Association of Highway Patrolmen and other organizations, have sued the state to overturn the rule. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Christopher Krueger issued the temporary injunction as the case plays out.

A lawyer involved in the suit, David Mastagni, pointed out the contradictory stances Bonta has taken on the forced outing of trans folks. He has been against forced outing policies of students in schools, claiming they violate state law and challenging them in court.

In August, Bonta filed a lawsuit against the Chino Valley Unified School District on Monday over its policy requiring schools to out transgender and nonbinary students to their possibly unsupportive parents. The suit claimed the policy violated the California Constitution’s protections of equal rights, privacy, and freedom from gender-based discrimination.

At the time, Bonta blasted the school for taking “great pains to go out of their way, despite our warnings of the illegality of this action beforehand, to trample the rights of students, to trample the rights of children.”

Mastagni called it paradoxical that his office has “refused to afford peace officers these same privacy rights.”

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