Washtenaw County Prosecutor issues directive on gender identity, adopts Fair Michigan policy

Directive to assist transgender, intersex, gender-nonconforming crime victims and witnesses

A transgender flag being waved at LGBT gay pride march; Shutterstock ID 1449773756; Job: CNN Photos (Ink Drop, CNN Newsource)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – On Wednesday, Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit issued a Prosecutor’s Office Directive on respecting gender identity.

Created with the help of Fair Michigan Foundation, an LGBTQ advocacy and education nonprofit, the directive states that every Prosecutor’s Office employee will treat community members according to their gender identity, not by the sex they were assigned at birth or what is on government identification.

“It is therefore a top priority for the Prosecutor’s Office to treat transgender, intersex, and gender-nonconforming individuals with respect and dignity in all interactions. This is a matter of basic decency, and of public safety,” the directive states.

Through the policy, employees are responsible for creating an atmosphere of respect and dignity. Prosecutor’s Office employees will use an individual’s chosen name, gender identity or expression, and preferred pronouns regardless of their appearance. Employees will also classify an individual’s gender identity will be classified based on their own statements or requests, the directive states.

“If we’re serious about serving the community, we must treat all members of the community with respect,” said Savit said through a release. “Today’s directive will help ensure that transgender, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people are treated respectfully by every member of our office. I’m grateful to Fair Michigan for their partnership in crafting today’s directive. We look forward to our future collaboration to ensure the safety of our LGBTQ communities.”

In a series of tweets, Savit announced the collaborative directive and noted that it was a matter of public safety as misgendering by law enforcement can increase distrust and lead to additional consequences.

The six-page directive was announced on International Transgender Day of Visibility, which celebrates transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals and raises awareness of discrimination.

Find the full policy here.

Similar policies have been adopted by Prosecutor’s Offices in Wayne and Ingham counties and were used to help create the Washtenaw County policy, the directive states.

“As we have seen in Wayne and Ingham Counties, this policy should promote positive interactions between prosecutors and crime victims and witnesses who are transgender. When transgender people know that they will be respected and properly identified, they are more likely to cooperate with law enforcement investigations and prosecutions. It is particularly fitting on International Transgender Day of Visibility, that Prosecutor Savit is taking this productive step to promote justice for transgender persons,” said Fair Michigan president Alanna Maguire in a release.

Fair Michigan Foundation is a nonprofit organization fighting against discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity. In 2016, it worked with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to develop the policy in order to address problems with the criminal justice system experienced by transgender individuals.

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