Fair Michigan Justice Project special prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz, transgender outreach coordinator Julisa Abad, and clinical therapist Tonya Griffith host a panel discussion during the Michigan Response to Hate Conference on Oct. 24 in East Lansing. Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

First Transgender Interaction Policy Created in Michigan

BY BTL STAFF

DETROIT - A new Transgender Interaction Policy requires employees in the Wayne County prosecutor's office to treat transgender, intersex and gender-nonconforming individuals in a manner appropriate to the individual's gender identity, which may be different from the sex the individual was assigned at birth or listed on official identification documents.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy in association with Fair Michigan - a Michigan nonprofit corporation seeking to end discrimination against persons based on sex, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity - announced the issuance of the policy on Nov. 3.

Regardless of the individual's appearance, prosecutor's office employees should classify an individual's gender identity in accordance with statements or requests made by the individual, such as if the individual asks the employee to use different pronouns.

In addition, employees should address transgender individuals by their chosen name, which might differ from the name that is on their government-issued identification. Employees shall not refer to any person in a derogatory manner because of their gender identity or gender expression.

"We strive at this office to treat everyone that walks through our doors with dignity and respect. This is a great tool to facilitate this," said Worthy. "We want to make sure that we do not unknowingly offend anyone that we are trying to help. No one is immune from the guidance that this policy provides. Hopefully this can be adopted widely."

"The Transgender Interaction policy marks a significant step forward for the rights of Michigan residents," said civil rights attorney Dana Nessel, president of Fair Michigan and a former Wayne County assistant prosecutor.

"This policy is the first in the state to require prosecutors and staff to recognize a basic human right for transgender individuals: recognition of, and respect for, a core aspect of their identity. Fair Michigan is proud to have assisted the prosecutor's office in developing this essential and transformative policy."

Fair Michigan Justice Project special prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz worked closely with the prosecutor's office to develop the policy, which promises to enhance productive interactions between prosecutors and crime victims and witnesses who are transgender.

FMJP investigates and prosecutes cases of serious criminal conduct involving LGBTQ victims targeted based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"It is impossible to overstate the importance of this action," said Julisa Abad, Fair Michigan's transgender outreach coordinator. "A person's gender identity involves one's innermost concept of how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. This policy requires that each person's gender identity be recognized and respected."

Nessel predicted that the policy will serve as a model for law enforcement and prosecutors' offices throughout the state.

"By implementing the Transgender Interaction Policy, Wayne County is demonstrating to the rest of Michigan how to ensure that gender identity is never again ignored or misconstrued when gender-nonconforming people interact with criminal justice officials."

Learn more about Fair Michigan online.


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