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Hickman’s “plan” for an LGBT policy

It’s sort of something, I guess.

Sheriff Ron Hickman

Lou Weaver grew up respecting the badge. His father was a cop. His father’s friends were cops. And so Weaver never feared the police.

That changed when Weaver, who is transgender, was pulled over several years ago on a traffic stop. The officer’s reaction to Weaver explaining that he was a transgender man, not a lesbian woman, was so brash that Weaver thought he might end up in cuffs. Then he wondered what would happen if he was ever booked: Would they house him with women because he didn’t have a penis? Would they house him with men because he had a beard and a man’s voice? But what if he was raped the second he stepped into the shower?

Weaver, a local activist and LGBT consultant, is certain that these are the thoughts of every transgender person who faces police in any situation. It’s why he was thrilled in 2013 when then-Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia wrote up an LGBTI policy to protect against discrimination, aid jailers in appropriately housing and classifying inmates by gender, and keep LGBTI inmates safe. It was heralded by many as the best LGBTI jail policy in the country, Weaver remembered. And Weaver was hired to train those jailers on how to best implement it, how to handle the intricacies that come with transgender issues.

He lost that job not long after Sheriff Ron Hickman was appointed to replace Garcia, who stepped down to run for Houston mayor in May.

[…]

At a meeting on Wednesday night with a group of local Log Cabin Republicans, Hickman said he didn’t understand why he got so much flak for those decisions.And he also said that, actually, he plans to expand Garcia’s LGBTI policy. Still, he offered little detail except to say he wants to focus on three areas: inmate classification (already a main focus of Garcia’s policy), how to address LGBTI people during traffic stops, and how to deal with LGBTI crime victims. “In my 40-plus years,” he said after mentioning these points, “there have been a myriad of circumstances where every person in front of me needed very special, very unique type of treatment, and that’s the way we’ll approach it.”

Yet later on, when Hickman explained why he decided to cut the LGBTI liaison program, special treatment was certainly not something he supported. Hickman said he cut the program because it was rarely ever used—and because no other minority groups had a program like that, so why this one? One woman at the meeting objected, saying she had many LGBT friends who would find it important that certain officers be identified as LGBT-friendly. The idea appeared to almost offend Hickman, who shot back that the badge itself should be enough to indicate that an officer is safe to talk to. In an interview afterward, he elaborated, saying, “How many generations have we been telling kids, ‘this is the person you can talk to’? So now, having a unique, special label seems contradictory.”

Then he added: “It was just stuff they just never did. They put this policy in place but nobody ever followed it.”

See here for the background. As the story notes, some things were in the works but not yet in place by the time Adrian Garcia resigned. Given how his tenure as Sheriff has gone so far I can’t say I have a lot of faith that Hickman will follow up, nor do I particularly think he will wind up doing as much as Garcia would have, but I’ll be happy to be proven wrong. One way or the other, I’m sure this will be an issue in next year’s election.

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One Comment

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    I doubt that Lou Weaver is the most objective person to quote about this story. He was making money off of the taxpayers for his “consulting” work, and Hickman put a stop to it. How do we think Weaver is going to feel? Grateful that the fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers is being honored by Hickman?

    Having said that, I see two valid issues here. Yes, jail staff need to know what to do with folks whose gender is not straightforward (no pun intended, honest). I also agree that policing agencies should have some guidance on how to address people whose gender isn’t straightforward. I guess the typical ma’am and sir might be insulting to some folks. Perhaps the solution to this is for cops to address these people as “motorist” or “passenger.”

    Finally, “certain officers be identified as LGBT-friendly” smacks of unequal treatment under the law. I thought this whole thing was supposed to be about government treating all of its citizens equally, which I wholeheartedly support. Why not have Samoan-friendly officers? How about albino-friendly officers? Hickman’s response to the woman was spot on.