“Telling 1,800 officers that I’m transgender and not knowing how they were going to treat me was my biggest obstacle. I really didn’t know if I was going to lose all respect from them because here I was, I was going from masculine to feminine in a primarily masculine profession.”
That’s Christina Garcia, an accident investigation officer with the San Diego Police Department (SPDP), who was fully expecting a backlash in July 2015 when she announced to her department that she was transgender.
“I knew I was different since I was a child,” she tells NBC San Diego. “Being very young I didn’t know what I was going through. I didn’t quite know why I felt this way.”
The first person she came out to was Dan Meyer, the department’s LGBTQ liaison sergeant.
“I was really having a tough time with it,” Garcia admits. “I did’t know of any other transgender officers, and I didn’t know you could be transgender and be a police offer.”
According to Meyer, “This definitely was a first for the San Diego Police Department. “I knew kind of going into this we were going to kind of set the standard. We just wanted to make sure we were doing everything we could to make sure her process was what she wanted to make it look like.”
The hardest part of her transition from Chris to Christina wasn’t making the announcement to her family, but telling her co-workers.
Fortunately, instead of the backlash she anticipated, she received nothing but support.
“Proud of you,” wrote one officer. “You have my full support. Let me know if you need anything.”
Another wrote, “Please tell Chris I am proud of him and wish him the best in the process.”
And another: “He is stronger than I have ever been.”
Garcia claims that “a lot of them came to me and said ‘you know what? You’re a good cop and that’s all that matters is that you’re a good cop. It was very inspiring to me. It showed me that I really can be a cop and I can be transgender and it really is okay.”
In order to emotionally deal with the transition, Garcia has been working with The Center throughout, and hopes to help and inspire others going through a similar journey.
“I took it upon myself to get involved in the community because I care about my community,” she explained. “It’s the community that I work for. I know there are others out there like me, and I also want to be there to help them through their process if they choose to come out because it’s really difficult to do this alone.”
Listen to Garcia share her story here: