Discussion Guide

The TCOPS Discussion and Support Group is an optional service. All members may use it in accordance with these terms.

PURPOSE

This group exists to act as a personal and professional peer support network for the members.

MEMBERSHIP

Membership is restricted to people who self-identify as transsexual,transgender, cross-dressing, or gender-queer, AND who are or have been law enforcement officers or law enforcement support personnel.

The Group’s membership is diverse, including but not limited to:

men, women, and others

officers at all levels of government:
federal, state, local, & other

officers in various roles:
probation officers, constables, rangers, deputies, reserve officers, investigators, corrections officers, military police officers, school resource officers, forensic scientists, crime scene techs, other support staff

people of various nationalities:
The United States of America
The United Kingdom
Australia
New Zealand
other countries

people of various cultures, too diverse to enumerate

SECURITY

Many of our members live and work in places where there are no effective legal protections. Membership in the group gives you access to confidential personal information which people reveal in conversation, or in group files or photos. Do not disclose it without their express permission, and even then, only at need. Under the wrong circumstances, disclosure of this information can cause someone to lose a job, lose a
career, lose a marriage, or lose custody of children.

IMPORTANT: Secure your computer. Do not leave your computer accessible to others when any TCOPS information is accessible on it. If you have access to the group, it is safest not to permit anyone else to use your computer. If you DO permit someone else to use your computer, make certain beforehand that you are logged out completely from your Yahoo! account, and that any local files containing TCOPS information, INCLUDING
PHOTOS, MESSAGES, and CONTACT INFORMATION, are stored securely where the user cannot read them or copy them. If you do not know for certain how to do this, then DO NOT PERMIT OTHERS TO USE YOUR COMPUTER.

Security violations will result in immediate suspension from the group, not as punishment, but to deal with the security breach. A member responsible for a breach, if he or she is reinstated at all, will only be reinstated when he or she has demonstrated that the breach is closed and that he or she understands computer security.

MODERATION

This group is moderated, by the group’s founder and owner, Julie Marin, and also by other volunteers. Any moderator who sees a violation of the terms of use may take action to prevent further violations. Depending on the circumstances, that action may include cautioning the offending member, warning the offending member, putting the offending member on moderated status, or suspending the offending member temporarily, or
removing the offending member permanently from the group. Moderators will generally do the moderation publicly, so that members can see that someone is addressing the problem, and so that newer members can see the guidelines in actual practice.

In general, moderators prefer to intervene as lightly as possible. However, they are not required to step up the ladder. Some behavior merits immediate moderation.

Julie Marin may modify any moderator’s decision as she sees fit. Note, however, that she has chosen people whose judgment she trusts to help her with moderation.

TONE

Courtesy
Courtesy is essential. It should be the foundation of all your communication in this group. Your messages are read by a multi-gendered, multinational, multicultural audience. Remember that the recipients are human beings whose culture, language, and humor have different points of reference from your own. Remember that date formats, measurements, idioms, and slang may not translate well, even though everyone may be speaking English.

Presentation
Conduct yourself professionally. Remember that each time you post, you are essentially speaking publicly, from a podium, into a recorder. Everyone can hear you perfectly and there is a permanent record.

Anger
When You Are Angry: Slow down. Think before posting. Consider waiting overnight to reply. In your replies, use phrases like, “This makes me feel angry because…” and not phrases like, “You’re a son-of-a-bitch.”

Public Record
ALWAYS bear in mind that you are speaking to a diverse audience. Many members listen more than they participate. Always remember that they are listening. Always remember that our more hesitant members will choose to participate, or not, based on how they see members treating each other.

ALWAYS remember that no one can see your smile or hear your tone of voice. The person reading your message may read it days later, after a hard day at work and a fight with a family member. With each message, work to strike a positive tone.

CONTENT

Suitable Content:
Suitable posts include, but are not limited to:

requests for advice and support
expressions of support and advice to members
conversation about our lives and experiences
announcements
news items directly relevant to the membership
notification of awards, honors and news concerning members
requests for information or networking

Prohibited Content:
The following types of communication are prohibited:

personal attacks
expression of stereotypes
racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of bigotry
spam (unsolicited commercial or religious messages)
political content, unless it is directly relevant to TCOPS members

Subject lines:
Subject lines should accurately describe the content, so that members can screen the content they want to read. If you change the topic, change the subject line.

HUMOR and OTHER QUESTIONABLE TOPICS

Jokes and humor often don’t translate across cultures. What is humor to one person can be highly offensive to another. English is not the first language for some members, and even between native speakers of English, dialect, slang, and colloquialisms can change in meaning. It’s probably best to label anything intended as humor, something like this:
Senator Smith has always been my favorite humanitarian. (JOKE!)

IMPORTANT: Labeling a joke does not make an offensive joke okay. It just makes it less likely to be misunderstood. If the other member understands that you meant it as a joke, and STILL finds it offensive, you should listen carefully and take the other member’s opinion to heart until you understand why the joke caused offense, and can articulate it to the satisfaction of the offended person.

Sarcasm
Be ESPECIALLY careful with sarcasm. It’s probably best to avoid it entirely, or label it explicitly, something like this:

Yeah, THAT worked well. <— sarcasm

Questionable Topics:
Go off-list to discuss them. If a topic is questionable and you want to discuss it with another member who is interested, send e-mail directly to that person, and not to the list. (People often refer to this as “going off-list”.)

THANK YOU

Thank you for following these guidelines and helping to make TCOPS a safe space for all of our members to discuss the issues which matter to us.

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