Manhattan D.A.’S Office Releases Transgender/Gender-Nonconforming/Nonbinary Working Group Report

October 28, 2022

First-of-its-Kind Effort Will Enhance Prosecutors’ Work with Survivors, Witnesses, Community Members and Staff

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Jr., today released a report by the Transgender/Gender-Nonconforming/Nonbinary (“TGNCNB”) Working Group with recommendations for the Office – and prosecutors across the country – to better serve trans and gender-diverse survivors, witnesses, community-based advocates, and employees. In December 2021, the Office hired Trans Equity Consulting, led by Principal Consultant and Founder Cecilia Gentili, to guide the Working Group, which included members of the NYC Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (“AVP”), New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, the Hetrick Martin Institute (“HMI”), and the New York City Commission on Human Rights, as well as representatives from the D.A.’s Office. Today’s report represents both the culmination of the Working Group’s efforts, and the official start of the Office’s work to implement the Working Group’s recommendations.

“I would like to thank the members of the TGNCNB Working Group who collaborated for months to analyze our Office’s practices and suggest strategies to improve how we serve trans and gender-diverse survivors, witnesses, and community members,” said D.A. Bragg. “Commissioning this report helped to highlight where we can take stronger action, and now we will immediately begin to implement as many of these recommendations as possible and remain committed to transparency throughout this ongoing process.”

“Trans and Non Binary individuals as well as Gender Non-Conforming folks have a long history of mistreatment when meeting the criminal justice system,” said Cecilia Gentili, Principal Consultant and Founder of Trans Equity Consulting. “These recommendations are a great starting point to create healing and find inclusive and caring ways to shift their experience to better outcomes. Thank you DA Bragg for this initiative!”

“AVP knows that creating inclusive and affirming spaces for trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary survivors of violence builds safety and reduces the revictimization that TGNCNB people who are engaged in criminal legal systems face,” said Catherine Shugrue dos Santos, MSW, Deputy Executive Director for Programs at AVP. “AVP is proud of our work on the Manhattan District Attorney’s TGNCNB Working Group, and wholeheartedly supports the recommendations.”

“Hetrick-Martin Institute was honored and grateful for the opportunity to participate in the TGNCNB working group,” said Soraya Elcock, HMI Chief Strategy Officer. “Lending our experience in working with transgender/gender-nonconforming/non-binary youth at HMI is vital in developing strategies to help lessen and eliminate the trauma and violence TGNCNB individuals experience at the hands of our legal and correction system. We look forward to representing the voices of our young people, as we work with the District Attorney’s office to ensure members of the TGNCNB community receive the protection and respect they deserve.”

“I am incredibly proud of the work that went into this report and the recommendations we are making, because adopting these changes will make justice more accessible to more people by helping them feel seen, safe, and respected as they participate in the system,” said Bianca Scherr, Working Group member and former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney. “In addition, adopting these recommendations will make the Manhattan DA’s office more attractive to queer, trans, and non-binary lawyers, which is important, because the more a prosecutor’s office reflects the diversity of society, the better it can serve historically marginalized communities, and the more it creates fair and just outcomes.”

The Report’s recommendations include improvements to many areas of the Office’s intake, outreach, training, and more, including:

  • Creating an intake form to ensure the correct gendering and naming of individuals seeking assistance
  • Consolidating the Office’s hotlines and better publicizing available supports
  • Creating a greeter or navigator position to help visitors go through security checkpoints, and create a private area for additional screening
  • Assess structural limitations and take steps toward creating gender-neutral bathrooms
  • Improving signage and accessibility in the public areas of the office
  • Enhancing training for Assistant D.A.s and others who work directly with witnesses and victims, and developing a “living library” of trans-related resources for continued education
  • Advocating for similarly enhanced training of NYPD officers
  • Developing system to better refer victims to services
  • Updating existing forms to reflect gender identities and pronouns
  • Updating the Office’s website to ensure consistency, accessibility, and additional resources for the TGNCNB community

The full report is available here.