San Francisco DA mandates use of preferred pronouns to show dignity and respect

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said that the staff in his office will be required to use people's preferred pronouns.

"Here in San Francisco we must, and we will," Boudin said at a news conference on Wednesday. "And we are leaders in modeling respect and modeling dignity and compassion, in all aspects of our society, including in our legal system." 

Prosecutors, and other staff, will now be required to ask and then use the names and correct pronouns of everyone involved in the criminal justice system.

The policy also requires prosecutors to ask the defense which pronouns should be used for anyone accused of a crime.

Boudin said the new policy will help hasten the end of that history, and cited data from the Los Angeles-based Trevor Project showing that trans and nonbinary youth who are referred to by their correct pronouns have a 50% less chance of attempting suicide compared with those whose pronouns were not respected.

This is the second policy of its kind in the United States, Boudin said. The first was implemented in Washtenaw County, Michigan. 

Boudin's office also received the assistance of the Transgender Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the San Francisco Office of Transgender Initiatives.

The San Jose Police Department instituted a similar policy earlier this year, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported. The San Francisco Police Department's policy differs in that legal names are used in its legal documents and police reports.

In 2018, San Francisco Mayor London Breed ordered all city agencies and departments that collect demographic data to update their forms, both paper and electronic, so that they include the option of nonbinary in addition to male and female when asking about gender identity. 

The mayoral directive also ordered that the forms expand on title options beyond Mr. and Ms. and include additional choices for pronouns other than just she/her/hers and he/him/his. The forms had to also include a line for a person's preferred name and use gender-neutral labels such as "parent/guardian" instead of "father" and "mother."