A high level official with the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division told transgender advocates on Dec. 5 that the department has and will continue to use its law enforcement powers to fight anti-transgender discrimination. In a speech before the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 9th Anniversary Awards Reception in Washington, Roy L. Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, said the DOJ has investigated and taken action against hate crimes, school bullying, and biased policing that target the transgender community. “Now under the leadership of Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez, the Civil Rights Division has never been stronger and the fight for transgender equality has never been fought more forcefully,” Austin said. In a development not widely known, Austin said the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has intervened in cases where local police departments have engaged in what he called “biased policing” against transgender people. He said one such intervention took place in New Orleans in recent years, where the division obtained a consent decree requiring police officials to put in place special training on transgender related issues. The action followed a DOJ investigation into reports of improper police behavior toward transgender women in the enforcement of a controversial anti-prostitution law that has since been changed.
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