POLK COUNTY (FOX 13) - Hundreds of people get caught up in Polk County's prostitution stings every year. But four suspects in a sting called ‘Operation Naughty, Not Nice,’ is causing quite a stir nationally. The controversy is over the Polk County Sheriff's Office publicly identifying the suspects as transgender.
"Why do it?" FOX 13 asked Polk Sheriff Grady Judd.
"Why not?" Sheriff Judd responded.
The National Center for Transgender Equality says the sheriff's office essentially outed them.
"There is no reason to air all kinds of private business that's potentially very sensitive or could put them at risk," said Harper Jean Tobin, a NCTE spokesperson.
Judd says the suspects outed themselves when they posted ads on the website "Backpage" under transsexual escorts.
Advocates are also upset over the fact that even though the suspects identify as women, the legal paperwork identifies them as men. Judd says whatever a suspect's driver's license says is the gender they go with.
When it comes to incarceration, Judd says the system is pretty simple as well.
"They can call themselves anything they want," he said. "They can dress anyway they want. But when it comes to booking them in the county jail, it depends on the plumbing they possess."
Transgender groups are asking their supporters to write to the Polk County Commission demanding that Judd change his policies.
Judd is standing tough, saying there is zero chance he is going to back off.