A transsexual police officer is suing her force after she allegedly had to “out” herself over a police radio system, the BBC has learned. PC Emma Chapman claims Essex Police failed to help its officers understand transgender issues and properly investigate what had happened. The case, believed to be the first of its kind, was heard at an employment tribunal which is now considering its findings. Essex Police disputes the allegations.
PC Chapman, 44, was born male and underwent gender reassignment in 1999 while serving as a volunteer officer with Essex Police. Four years later she became a full-time constable and now works on the force’s response team. It is thought she is the only transgender officer in the force. PC Chapman said that after initially telling people about the sex change and raising awareness of transgender issues at conferences, she became “frustrated” at the lack of support and understanding about the problems transsexuals faced. She decided not to be “open” any longer and “stepped away” from dealing with transgender issues in 2009.
According to legal documents, seen by the BBC, her claim centres on three incidents when she had to speak to the police force’s control room via her radio handset. PC Chapman says that on the first occasion, in October 2012, the operator did not believe who she was, saying she had a “male voice”. In her witness statement, the police constable said: “I felt a combination of alarm and distress. ” I replied… ‘I am a transsexual’. PC Chapman said she was left feeling “very distressed” that she’d had to “out” herself over a radio channel that was listened to by hundreds of officers and staff. She reported what had happened but claims Essex police failed to carry out a full investigation and interview the control room operator.