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News, Queensland

Trans woman’s privacy breached in police misgendering debacle

A north Queensland woman has reported transphobic treatment by police officers during management of a neighbourhood dispute.

The woman, whose identity is being protected for her privacy and safety, interacted with her local police station in December over an altercation with a man who she alleges vilified her in a neighbourhood “hate campaign”.

According to records sighted by Pink Advocate, officers recorded her gender as male on multiple documents.

Her referral by police to a community legal service also seemingly disregarded her correct legal name and gender, leading to the service wrongly addressing her by her birth name.

The woman’s requests to have police records amended went unheeded until February, when an LGBTIQ advocate also contacted the station on her behalf.

‘A serious threat to personal safety’

“It’s been extremely distressing,” said the woman, who has been in counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder over the events.

“I don’t think the police have respected me as a female in this incident.

“I feel they have been investigating it as though I’m a male because of what’s shown on my records.

“I haven’t been extended the support that you’d expect a woman would get in a situation like this.”

The Queensland Police Service is directed by a ‘Good practice guide for interaction with transgender clients’.

The guide, published in 2016 and currently under review, includes general information on trans identities and issues, including the increased dangers of harassment and violence that trans people often face.

Despite some outdated language such as “reassignment surgery” and possible oversights such as naming “gender queer” as an identity only for people assigned female at birth, it provides a comprehensive but simple guide to working with trans people.

The guide clearly states that using pronouns or names associated with a trans person’s gender assigned at birth is offensive and to be avoided.

It recommends respecting gender identity and privacy, noting that “releasing the birth name or sex of a transgender person could also cause a serious threat to the personal safety or harm to the person”.

According to the guide, disclosing a trans person’s birth gender constitutes a breach of privacy and confidentiality that will be “treated seriously” and may lead to disciplinary action.

Despite the guidelines, instructions for recording a trans person’s details in a police database state that any change of name should be recorded as an “alias”.

‘They should be doing more’

The woman has called for police procedures to be brought into line with the guidelines and for trans people to be treated with dignity and respect.

“[This treatment] shouldn’t be legal,” she said.

“They need to respect when trans people point out that their documents have been changed.

“They should be doing more to make sure the records are amended.”

She added that she feared outing trans people could create bias against them in the legal system.

Police departments around Australia and internationally have worked in recent decades to remedy poor historical relations with the LGBTIQ community.

Established in 1997, the Queensland Police Service LGBTI Liaison Program is intended to improve understanding and relationships with the community and improve service delivery.

The Queensland Police Service has been contacted for comment.

1 thought on “Trans woman’s privacy breached in police misgendering debacle”

  1. It just goes to show that this incident may not be a QPS issue, but a personal one by the officers involved. NQ and FNQ still have a way to go in their acceptance of the LGBTIQA+ community.

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