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CRS Pilots Updated “Engaging and Building Relationships with Transgender Communities” Training Program for Law Enforcement

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) individuals across the country continue to be targets of bias incidents and hate crimes based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. To help communities prevent or respond to these incidents, under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service (CRS) has updated its training program designed to improve communication and understanding between law enforcement officers and transgender individuals. CRS also developed a webinar version of the training program for law enforcement agencies not able to accommodate in-person instruction.

“Engaging and Building Relationships with Transgender Communities” is a three-hour training program that aims to increase participants’ awareness of the civil rights issues affecting transgender individuals, identify misconceptions, share best practices, and improve partnerships between law enforcement officers and transgender communities. After recently updating the program with input from LGBTQ and law enforcement subject matter experts (SMEs) from across the country, CRS will deliver the “Engaging and Building Relationships with Transgender Communities” training via webinar to two groups of law enforcement officers in July and August 2020. Leveraging webinar technology at no cost to communities allows CRS to meet the training needs of law enforcement agencies and the community when in-person training is not feasible.

The “Engaging and Building Relationships with Transgender Communities” webinar on July 15 and 16, 2020, will serve as a pilot for this virtual training program. A state law enforcement academy will host the webinar, and a law enforcement SME and transgender community SME will serve as trainers. Law enforcement officials from across the state are expected to attend the training. The attendees will be able to interact with each other in virtual breakout sessions and take polls regarding the material covered in the webinar. A second pilot will be conducted with a different group of law enforcement officers in August 2020.

During the training program, attendees will learn about the misconceptions that affect the prevention and response to hate crimes against transgender communities. The program also teaches law enforcement officers about the proper terminology to use when engaging with transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals and discusses the civil rights issues impacting these communities. Training participants also develop an outreach plan, review the importance of community awareness, and discuss best practices to increase communication and collaboration between transgender communities and police departments.

In January 2020, seven law enforcement SMEs and seven transgender SMEs from across the country completed a “training of trainers” program in Washington, D.C. The SMEs observed and participated in the training program, reviewed training materials, and practiced delivering portions of the training content.

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Updated August 14, 2023