New York Civil Liberties Union sues NYPD for records on transgender sensitivity training

The New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the New York Police Department for records that could shed light on whether the department has trained its officers on how to properly interact with transgender and nonconforming citizens.

The police department was required to complete the task by the end of 2020, according to a previous settlement with the civil rights organization signed by both parties on Nov. 9.

On behalf of transgender advocate and Bronx resident Linda Dominguez, the ACLU and the NYCLU filed a lawsuit against the New York Police Department in Jan. 2019.

In a summary of events of the case, the ACLU recounted on its website:

"Linda Dominguez, who changed her name legally in 2017 to better align with her gender identity, was walking home from a bus stop through a park in the Bronx one evening in April 2018 when she was approached by three police officers."

"Linda primarily speaks Spanish, but the police officers spoke to her in English. They asked her name, and she gave her previous legal name because believed she was supposed to give that name. The police then arrested her for being in the park after hours and took her to the 44th precinct," it continues. Police charged Dominguez with false impersonation, the lawsuit reads.

"Linda was also harassed by officers who repeatedly mocked her gender identity, despite changes to the NYPD’s patrol guide dating back to 2012 that prohibit such behavior," the ACLU alleges.

The civil rights organizations ultimately settled the case with the police department on the grounds that authorities would:

  • "Conduct roll-call training for all tours at the 44th Precinct regarding interactions with transgender and nonconforming people" and;

  • "Distribute a department-wide message reiterating existing Patrol Guide/Department training language regarding interactions with members of the transgender and nonconforming communities..."

NYPD also paid $30,000 to "NYCLU Foundation as attorney for Linda Dominguez" as part of the settlement.

What does the lawsuit say?

On Aug. 10 through New York's Freedom of Information Law, the NYCLU requested documents from NYPD to prove whether or not the department completed its promise. NYPD told the organization it would have the documents ready by Dec. 29, according to court records.

NYCLU is arguing that the potential four-and-a-half month timeline that police have offered is too long to wait, the new lawsuit reads.

Morgin Dupont, 25, a woman of trans experience, holds up the flag for Transgender and Gender Noncomforming people at a rally for LGBTQI+ rights at Washington Square Park on October 21, 2018 in New York City.
Morgin Dupont, 25, a woman of trans experience, holds up the flag for Transgender and Gender Noncomforming people at a rally for LGBTQI+ rights at Washington Square Park on October 21, 2018 in New York City.

"This delay is the latest in a long line of deliberate and excessive delays in responding to straightforward public records requests, blocking timely access to critical information," the new lawsuit reads.

NYPD declined to comment "on pending litigation" in an email to USA TODAY. The police department denied the allegations on April 22, 2019, court records show.

In 2012, the department revised its Patrol Guide to "prohibit the use of discourteous or disrespectful remarks regarding a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression" and instructing officers to "refer to transgender New Yorkers by names, honorifics and pronouns that reflect their gender identity (even if it does not match the information on their ID documents) and amending forms so that people’s "preferred name" can be recorded and used while they are in police custody," reads a statement from NYCLU commending the changes in June of that year.

The civil rights organization contends not much is different in how police interact with transgender people in New York.

"More than six years after the NYPD instituted new guidance for interacting respectfully with transgender people, the department has not adequately trained officers and discrimination remains pervasive," the ACLU's website reads.

In a news release about the lawsuit Friday, Gabriella Larios, a staff attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union, said: "At a time when anti-transgender sentiment is on the rise across the country, it is critical for the public to know whether the NYPD has made any progress toward ending the culture of impunity and discrimination against transgender people that has persisted throughout the Department for decades."

Contact Kayla Jimenez at Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, at @kaylajjimenez.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New York Civil Liberties Union sue NYPD for records on transgender police training