This year’s pride was pivotal and very different in many ways: We came back from a pandemic, from riots over blatant abuse of power, and it was my first one ever!
Yes folks, at the radiant age of 30, I finally went to a pride event. It was everything I hoped and dreamed it would be. Leading up to it though, I had some tough feelings such as sadness, frustration and exhaustion.
I can’t sit here and ramble on about how I feel without explaining why I feel the way I do, but in an effort to be fully transparent, I am going to disclose something that I hold close to my chest out of fear of retaliation and anger despite having the best of intentions.
I currently work for a police department and I’m in a hiring process for one of the largest and most progressive departments in my state. I am also a transgender woman.
I am an advocate for progress, justice, peace, empathy, compassion and understanding. I believe we should all embrace and celebrate what makes us unique, but at the same time I believe we all bleed the same, so there is no logical or rational excuse for racism, bigotry, homophobia, hate or any other exclusionary actions.
I am incredibly passionate about my role in law enforcement and have wanted to be a police officer for as long as I can remember. I looked to law enforcement and saw an opportunity to help people in some of their worst moments and keep them safe to the best of my ability. I take who I am, my personal experiences, wisdom and insights and apply them to help my community. I am a firm believer that the only way we can properly serve our community is to fully and properly represent our community.
That’s why I think I’m in a unique poition as a transgender woman in law enforcement — now more than ever.
That said, I am also aware of the issues some law enforcement officers have created for their communities and families, as well as the understandable distrust some communities and demographics have for law enforcement. It causes a ripple effect that lasts for decades, so I work hard on a daily basis to rebuild these strained relationships and push for reform as well as fair and inclusive approaches within our communities.
Here’s the thing though: I’m not alone.
I know and even work with officers who go out on a daily basis and do just the same as I do. So why am I sad, frustrated and exhausted? Like I said, I’m in an odd spot here. I am celebrated by some for being part of the LGBTQ+ community but despised by some of the very same people for being in law enforcement and vice versa, and yet again I know I’m not the only one in this position.
In years past, we celebrated law enforcement being in uniform and marching hand in hand with their fellow LGBTQ+ siblings in pride parades and pride rallies. We celebrated the push for progress, inclusivity and love across the board and held a mutual respect for each other.
This year we saw major stakeholders in major cities ban police from being present and in uniform from marching with and for the LGBTQ+ community. I see why these leaders did what they did due to recent developments, but we need to hold the right people accountable and not exclude individuals who have nothing but love in their heart for their LGBTQ+ siblings.
We need to get to know those who serve our communities and judge based on their character and their actions rather than the character and actions of someone else they don’t even know or work with.
Even as I write this I sit here wondering if this article will single-handedly decemate this blog and everything we have worked for — every story we’ve shared, every person we’ve inspired, every life we’ve touched — all because I chose a profession that is disliked if not hated by some members of the very same community I’m passionate to serve despite them not even knowing who I am as an individual.
So I urge, if not implore, those who may now hate me or despise me to not define me by my profession but by my character and my actions. I also ask that we do the same for others in the same profession.
The world is tired of hate, so let us all live up to the reputation of being loving and inclusive.
On our banners and cards we have “Safe. Heard. Loved.” and I want you all to know that if you are in whatever community I happen to be serving, I will always strive to ensure you are indeed safe, heard and loved.
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