Gender DynamiX and partners have been working with the South African Police Services in Cape Town to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to deal with transgender people. The objective of this SOP is to ensure the safety of transgender people who are in conflict with the law and to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect by members of the SAPS.
Searching, holding cells and police conduct are the main aspects of this SOP.
The Criminal Procedures Act states that a man will be searched by a man. After lengthy negotiations SAPS recognises that trans-women are women and trans-men are men as guided by ACT 49. This means, if a trans-person is carrying an Identity Document that reflects her/his gender then that trans-person can demand to be searched by a police of the same gender, regardless of lack of genital surgery.
All transgender persons should be detained in separate detention facilities at the police station where the person was arrested. In the event of separate detention facilities not being available at the police station where the arrest was affected, the transgender person must be transported and be detained at the identified detention facility within the cluster.
Transgender people should report any form of abuse, including removal of wigs and other gender affirming prosthetics.
The implementation of this SOP is accompanied by sensitisation workshops of the SAPS members. This will be piloted in and around Cape Town and in Johannesburg. We urge transgender people to report their bad and good experiences with the police as that will help us monitor the change of attitudes and the implementation of this ground breaking SOP.