The Justice Department launched a program Thursday to train local police departments to better respond to transgender individuals, a population authorities say is disproportionately harmed by violence.
The new initiative is aimed at helping police identify hate crimes and build trust with a community that law enforcement officials say is too often reluctant to report crimes.
"It’s clear that such a training is as necessary as it is overdue," Associate Attorney General Tony West said at a ceremony unveiling the program. "Because too often, in too many places, we know that transgender victims are discouraged from reporting hate crimes and hate violence due to their past negative interactions with and perceptions of law enforcement."
The training effort is being overseen by the department’s Community Relations Service, which was established under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and works with communities to prevent and respond to hate crimes.
The initiative comes as police departments face scrutiny over their responsiveness to crimes against transgender people.
The Community Relations Service has regional offices around the country that will offer the training to police departments. The training includes suggestions for confronting bullying in schools as well as lists of do’s - such as asking a person for his or her preferred gender pronoun - and don’ts, such as using the term "transvestite" or asking whether the person has had sex-change surgery.