NYPD’s First Transgender Detective Ori Harbor Shares His Story, Challenges Faced

NEW YORK – The first transgender detective in the NYPD is sharing his story and describing the ups and downs and challenges he faced.

Det. Ori Harbor grew up in Detroit with a sister and a brother.

“I’m a great middle child,” Harbor said. “He actually joined the Marines when he was in high school… all my life, I’ve been trying to emulate my brother.”

Harbor also loves acting.

“I attended Brooklyn College, got my MFA in acting, and after I graduated, I stayed in New York,” Harbor said.

Then, after his brother died, Ori wanted to honor his legacy and serve.

“I’m really looking at it from the lens of one Black person and one person of color, and how can I get into the NYPD and bring about that change,” Harbor said.

But after five years patrolling Brooklyn as a female officer, the real change in Harbor comes from within.

“I first started thinking about gender identity, what that means for me and how I really define what versus what I’m socialized,” Harbor said.

In 2012, Harbor began his social, physical and medical transformation into a man.

His sister stopped talking to him and they ended up not talking for about four years.

Meanwhile, at work…

“One day, I came into the office and said, ‘My new name is Ori and my pronouns are he/he/he,'” Harbor said. “They were all confused, they didn’t know what the hell I was doing.”

Harbor said for the most part, they are open, accepting and affirmative.

That’s how he became the NYPD’s first openly transgender detective on the force.

“It’s definitely epic, we have other transgender people in the department that don’t go out, but for me it’s important to be seen,” Harbor said.

The NYPD now has a transgender policy, providing assistance to officers, and Harbor holds informational seminars that strive to educate others.

Harbor has been with the NYPD for 15 years and was promoted to detective in December.

“Ten to fifteen years from now, I hope transgender issues won’t be an issue anymore, because we live in a world of equality and justice, and right now, in terms of transgender protection and rights and laws, we’re not there yet.”

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Dais Johnston

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