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Transsexual had right to choose female officer for strip search
May 24 2006
Transsexuals who are strip-searched by police should be able to choose whether it's done by a male or female officer, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruled Wednesday.
The ruling stems from a complaint by Rosalyn Forrester, a transsexual, born as a man, who hadn't yet undergone a sex-change operation.
Forrester was strip-searched in 1999 by male police officers in Peel Region just west of Toronto. Police arrested Forrester after her common-law spouse accused her of harassment and breaching a restraining order.
Forrester was charged, but those charges were later dropped.
The Peel Regional Police policy had been that an officer of the same gender as the suspect should be used to carry out strip-searches.
In this case though, Forrester requested to be searched by a female officer.
Police decided a male officer would do the search because Forrester was still officially a man. Forrester had not yet gone through sex-reassignment surgery to become a woman.
The tribunal found that Forrester has been "humiliated" by the strip searches, but that the police did not intentionally violate her rights.
The police have now agreed they will allow a person to self-identify themselves as a transsexual.
The tribunal said officers cannot "opt out" of strip-searching transsexuals unless they believe they have significant rights of their own to protect.
The tribunal also ordered the police to produce a training video on transsexuality for its force.
Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario Decision: www.hrto.ca/english/decisions/2006/
More Details and Analysis: www.jenburke.com
More Resources on Trans People in Prison on prisonjustice.ca