Employees in the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office must now respect the preferred name and gender of a victim or a witness as part of a new policy from Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon.
The policy announced on Tuesday requires court employees to address a victim or witness by their preferred name and gender pronouns, even if they differ from a birth certificate.
Alanna Maguire is president of Fair Michigan, an organization that fights for LGBTQ rights. Maguire said the policy change will make it easier for people who are transgender or intersex to report crimes.
“Really, some of the people that I’ve talked to… they just feel like their seen, like they’re respected and that they are taken seriously," she said.
Maguire said this policy has already made a difference when it was adopted in neighboring Wayne County three years ago.
“A defense attorney was intentionally trying to mis-gender one of our witnesses," said Maguire. "And because we had a policy in place, the judge in the courtroom insisted that the defense attorney stop doing that. And it certainly made a difference in terms of that witness’ comfort level in the courtroom.”
The policy only applies to Ingham County court employees and not to law enforcement.