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Toronto Trans Man Strip-Searched By Police, Files Human Rights Complaint

Toronto Trans Man Strip-Searched By Police, Files Human Rights Complaint

Boyd Kodak, a transsexual male activist who was detained by police in 2012, may see light this week on a complaint he filed against Toronto's police department and his former Miton-based jail, Vanier Centre for Women, alleging dehumanizing mistreatment.

The complaint has finally reached the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and will likely be settled this week. Their decision could set a precedent for the entire province, reports the Toronto Star.

On December 6, 2012, Kodak was arrested at his Gormley home by officers executing a warrant issued over an alleged harassment charge from an estranged business partner. The 60-year-old says he was then misgendered by officials when he was placed in a woman's holding area.

Kodak told the Star he was then transferred to two other women's hold areas and ultimately subjected to an unlawful strip-search in which an officer took away his penile prosthetic, passed it around to coworkers, then confiscated it. Kodak was then allegedly made to don women's clothing and underwear, and sent to a women's prison.

"They told me those were the standard procedures for trans people," he recalled to the Star. "It not only happened at one police station, but all the ones they took me to, and the women's jail. There wasn't one of them that treated me with dignity."

"They just made a spectacle of me," he continued. "They outed me. There's no reason for them to do that to me."

Kodak says he was immediately taken to court where he was taunted by the female detainees who surrounded him. He was then jailed for three days until he made bail. Released still wearing women's clothing, Kodak says he felt "set up to be harassed" on the streets. The charges against him were dropped several months later.

In his complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, Kodak noted that officers failed to follow an Ontario law that guarantees gender-nonconforming citizens equal treatment without discrimination. Further, he is seeking undisclosed monetary compensation and an apology from police and jail officials. The dehumanizing treatment he faced, he says, has caused him post-traumatic stress disorder and inhibited his ability to function.

Currently, Ontario's government is working on an official policy concerning appropriate treatment of trans inmates. After a thorough consultation process, the policy is expected to be released by the end of 2014.

In the interim, Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi told the Star that provisional guidelines have been put in place that require trans people in custody to identify their own gender and preference to be searched by a male or female guard.

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