What are my rights as a Transgender person when being searched by the police?

If you are a Transgender young person who has been searched by the police, there are some guidelines that should be followed.

  • If there is no doubt as to whether you should be treated as being male or female, you should be treated as such.
  •  If at any time (including during the search) there is doubt as to whether you should be treated, or continue to be treated, as being male or female:

i. You should be asked what gender you identify with.

ii. You should confirm your preference by signing the custody record, the search record or the officer’s notebook.

iii. If you are unwilling to express a preference, the police can make a judgement on your gender based on how you are presenting.

iv. Alternatively, you will be dealt with according to what appears to be your registered sex at birth.

Will my gender be recorded?

Your gender must be recorded in your search or custody record or in the officer’s notebook. 

However Section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act makes your gender ‘protected information’ meaning the police cannot disclose your gender to any other person.

What happens if I am not treated according to my preferred gender?

Any reasons for not treating you by your preferred gender must be recorded in the search record, in the officer’s notebook, or if applicable, in your custody record.

If you wish to find out more about making complaints click here.

Can I request a private search in airports if I don’t feel comfortable having it done in public?

At any point in the process of being searched in airports, you may ask to have a search done privately. If you do so, you will be taken to a private area, out of view of the public and other members of staff. You will then undergo a full body search both by hand and by the use of a hand-held metal detector. The officer conducting the search will be accompanied by a second officer of the same sex who will act as a witness.  You may also take a witness with you (of any sex).

Who can search me at the airport? Can I request to be searched by someone of a particular gender?

Airport procedures will vary but most UK airports use full-body scans in the security area. You can request that the scanned image is viewed by a someone who’s gender you feel most comfortable with.

If the full-body scanner is triggered, you may be scanned again using a hand-held scanner which only takes a few minutes.

If a contact search is required it will be carried out in the open by someone of the same legal gender as you, but you should be able to request a search by a member of your preferred gender if it would make you feel more comfortable.