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Police in southern Alberta investigate Facebook post about transgender woman

Last Updated Apr 22, 2016 at 6:40 pm EDT

Dillon Hargreaves, a transgender woman in Lethbridge, Alta. is shown in an undated photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho-Levi Cox

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – Dillon Hargreaves was heading home from the legislature where she had attended a ceremony recognizing 100 years of women’s suffrage in Alberta when friends forwarded her a Facebook post suggesting she shouldn’t have been there.

As a transgender woman, Hargreaves says she’s used to hearing such comments and typically ignores them.

But when she learned that the post allegedly came from a police officer, she couldn’t let it go.

“I felt that for someone in a position of authority, especially policing, to be posting comments like these was inappropriate and was painting himself in a light that would make people such as myself question our safety,” Hargreaves said Friday.

The Lethbridge Police Service said in a statement that it had received several concerned messages about an employee’s personal social media post, including an official complaint, and the chief had ordered an investigation.

It said it would work with the complainant to address concerns “in the interest of reaching a positive resolution.”

“All members of LPS receive diversity training and the service is committed to bias-free policing,” said the statement, which added that no other details would be released until the case is resolved.

Hargreaves saved screen shots of the Facebook post about her attendance at the legislature on Tuesday.

“I think Dillon is very brave, however, I believe this makes a mockery of important women’s issues,” the post says.

The post also calls Hargreaves a “transgender male.”

“I live my life as a woman and I identify as female,” said Hargreaves, who added that she was invited to the ceremony by Lethbridge member of the legislature Shannon Phillips. Phillips, who is also Environment Minister, introduced Hargreaves in the legislature during question period as well.

“Not all women have the same issues, but we can all work together to make a difference for women,” Hargreaves said.

She was recently elected to the board of directors of the Trans Equality Society of Alberta (TESA), which filed the complaint with police.

The group named the officer who allegedly wrote the post, and identified him as a staff sergeant, but The Canadian Press was not able to independently confirm the information.

The officer could not be reached for comment. The president of the Lethbridge Police Association did not return phone calls.

TESA president Jan Buterman said the officer is allowed to have his beliefs.

“What will matter is when this person has to interact face to face in his capacity as a police officer. Will he in fact deal respectfully and appropriately with a trans person?”

Hargreaves said she wants the police force to acknowledge the post was inappropriate and to offer better diversity training for its officers about communicating.

“I am aware of it being a personal communication on their free time, but it is public, and we see people in other public professions being held to a high account,” she said.

“It is important that police officers be held to a higher standard.”