Canada

Transsexual had right to choose female officer for strip search

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.

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 1999by 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 sex as the suspectshould beused tocarry outstrip-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 tribunalsaid officers cannot "opt out" of strip-searching transsexuals unless they believe they have significant rights of their own to protect.

The tribunal alsoordered the police to produce a training video on transsexuality for its force.