Tori Newburn, Seattle first openly transgender cop, joined the city’s police department in 2014.
But he waited until May 2016 before he came out to his fellow officers even though he began transitioning 10 years ago. Now, thanks to recent interviews with NBC and Vice, the news has gone national.
“I put a lot of thought into it,” Newburn told King 5 News, a NBC affiliate in Seattle. “People don’t look at me and automatically know that I’m transgender. Like most people don’t know at all unless I tell them.”
Newburn received support from both his colleagues and parents when he came out to them. The 32-year-old told King 5 News that these positive experiences makes him feel privileged.
Newburn is also fortunate enough to work at a department that has progressive views of the LGTBQ community.
Two years ago, the Seattle PD created the Safe Place Program in which signage is placed in front of businesses that welcome members of the LGBTQ community who need a place to wait for police after reporting hate crimes.
Last March, the department also implemented transgender training for all its officers to teach them how to interact with transgender victims and suspects. This includes which pronouns to use when addressing people who are transgender.
“I don’t think we would’ve had this conversation even five years ago,” Carmen Best, the deputy police chief of the Seattle police department told Vice in the video above. “It sends a message to the community that we’re a police department and a city, quite frankly, that is accepting of people.”