The first openly transgender NYPD detective shares his story and challenges

NEW YORK – The NYPD’s first transgender detective shares his story, detailing the ups and downs and the challenges he’s faced.

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

“I was the amazing middle child,” Harbor said. “He actually joined the Marines after high school… my whole life I’ve tried to emulate my brother.”

Harbor also loved acting.

“I went to Brooklyn College, got my MFA in acting, and ended up staying in New York after I graduated,” Harbor said.

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

“I really looked at it from the perspective of a black person and a black person and how I can step into the NYPD and make that change,” Harbor said.

But after five years patrolling Brooklyn as a female officer, the real transformation of Harbor came from within.

“I first started thinking about gender identity and what that means to me and how I really identify versus what I was socialized to do,” Harbor said.

In 2012, Harbor began morphing into a man socially, physically, and medically.

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

Meanwhile, his colleagues at work were initially confused but ultimately supportive.

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

Harbor said they’re mostly open, accepting, and affirming.

In doing so, he became the NYPD’s first openly transgender detective on the force.

“It’s definitely monumental, we have other transgender people in the department who aren’t out, but for me, being visible is important,” Harbor said.

The NYPD now has a transgender policy supporting officers, and Harbor hosts informational seminars to educate others.

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

“I hope that in 10 to 15 years, transgender issues won’t matter because we live in a world that is equal and fair and right now we are in terms of protecting transgender people and their rights and laws not there yet.” The first openly transgender NYPD detective shares his story and challenges

Dais Johnston

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