‘Transgender’ uniform for the very PC police
A POLICE force is banning different uniforms for male and female officers – to make transgender people feel more at ease.
More than 1,000 officers at DyfedPowys Police, in west Wales, will ditch their helmets, hats, ties and cravats for matching ‘gender neutral’ outfits.
Referring to staff specifically as policemen or women will also be banned, while toilet set-ups will be reviewed and call handlers trained so they do not refer to transgender people by the wrong sex.
The force has embraced 18 recommendations made by a working group on gender identity, set up because police procedures in the past had ‘ adversely impacted’ transgender people.
However David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth and a former British Transport Police special constable, said the planned uniform changes were ‘ludicrous’.
He added: ‘It strikes me as just a way of trying to win brownie points by pandering to minority groups.
‘The only major difference in uniforms now are the hats, but I don’t think minority groups are going to be bothered anyway. It’s a huge amount of work for no great gain.’
At the moment, female officers wear a rounded hat and a cravat, while male officers wear the traditional custodian helmet and tie. But a report by the working group warned that these could force transgender officers to ‘out themselves’ in the workplace when they may not wish to, or ‘be forced into non-public facing roles’. It said that, over the next 12 months, a new unisex hat and neckwear will be introduced to ‘minimise gender differences’.
There are already no skirts included in the uniform, and men and women wear the same shoes. The force insists that the change will not come at a cost to the taxpayer – suggesting the new items will simply replace old ones when they suffer from wear and tear. The report also said urinals in police stations would need to be ‘closed off’ to improve privacy and ‘empower’ transgender people to use male facilities. Other recommendations include the development of a podcast to be distributed among staff to improve their understanding of transgender issues.
Assistant Chief Constable Liane James said: ‘As a force we have learnt that there may have been times when our practices and procedures have adversely impacted our trans communities and their engagement with us.
‘This isn’t right. We have been working with these communities to improve our service to them.’
The report cited the example of Sussex Police, which has already adopted the use of the title ‘Mx’ – as an alternative to the traditional ‘Mr’ or ‘Mrs’ – to improve relations with transgender people.
A spokesman for Stonewall, the gay rights campaign group, said last night: ‘We know that LGBT people, and trans people in particular, don’t always feel confident that the police will understand their needs.
‘It’s great to see this commitment from Dyfed-Powys to transinclusion as an employer and service provider for all.’
Mark Bleasdale, chairman of Dyfed-Powys Police Federation, added: ‘We would always want to ensure that [the uniform] serves its purpose which is to readily identify police officers.’