After nearly a decade on the force, transgender Essex (UK) Police officer Emma Chapman had to explain on the police radio to a dispatcher that she was transgender when the latter questioned the gender of the voice she was hearing.
East London Tribunal Court is now considering Chapman’s discrimination case which has the backing of the police officers union. Essex police is reportedly denying any wrongdoing.
Chapman in the BBC: “The radio is also a lifeline at times and I should not have to feel hesitant or anxious about using it.”
Chapman was a volunteer on the force at the time she transitioned. After surgery, it was four years before she joined the force full-time.
This is a case with an unusual twist. We don’t have the transcripts of the conversation, nor do we know what is the department’s usual protocol for identity verification by radio but it appears that the burden shouldn’t have been on Chapman to resolve the dispatcher’s confusion.
UPDATE: Lawontheweb.co.uk: PC Chapman has turned down an offer of an out-of-court settlement – her main goal is apparently to highlight the treatment of transgender people and make the force improve how they deal with transgender issues.
UPDATE 2 — Dec 18, 2013. PC Emma Chapman loses her lawsuit. From the Echo News:
A TRANSSEXUAL police officer, who sued Essex Police after claiming she was forced to “out” herself over the police radio, has lost her case.
PC Emma Chapman, 44, based at Southend, said she was forced to repeatedly explain to a control room operator she was a transsexual and claimed police chiefs failed to investigate her case properly or understand the issues she was facing.
But an employment tribunal rejected the allegations, saying PC Chapman was “unreasonably prone to offence” when questioned by operators hearing a male voice over the radio. . . .
She was supported in her dispute by the Police Federation, for which she acts as a constables’ representative in Essex.
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