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Video: This is the new transgender training Seattle police are taking
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Video: This is the new transgender training Seattle police are taking

Assistant Chief Steve Wilske introduces the Seattle Police Department's new transgender training video. (Seattle Police Department)

The most recent training effort by the City of Seattle is to bring police officers up to speed on an often misunderstood topic.

Officers are now undergoing training to better prepare for interactions with transgender individuals. In a new 18-minute training video produced by the Seattle Police Department, members of the Seattle transgender community relate their stories and advice to police.

Related: Washington family wants you to know that transgender people don’t look transgender

Assistant Police Chief Steve Wilske introduces the video, explaining that the training is the product of a year of working with the transgender community on policies and procedures.

The video features a range of voices, including a former police officer and Danni Askini, executive director of the Gender Justice League. Common misunderstandings that occur during interactions with police include confusion over matching an ID with the person in front of them, not using proper gender pronouns, and a lack of interest in crimes against members of the transgender community.

In some cases, people were disregarded by police officers, as Askini explains. She and two transgender friends were attacked while walking home one evening.

“When officers arrived at the scene, the first thing they asked us was if we were engaged in sex work that day,” Askini explained. “This was a block from my house. The police officers did not believe that I was the executive director of an organization, my friend was an emergency room doctor and my other friend was a Ph.D. biologist.

“Instead, their narrative of us as transgender women was that we must be sex workers,” she said. “They seemed completely uninterested in pursuing the case and finding the people who attacked us.”

The training video follows up to the SPD’s new transgender policy introduced in January. That policy covers issues such as searches of transgender individuals &#8212 people have a right to choose the gender of the officer searching them. More recently, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed an executive order establishing a policy that all city departments undergo transgender training.

According to the SPD, the majority of its force has completed the training. Other cities, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Boston, have established similar policies.

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