While there are quite a few trans police officers in the United States — and, apparently, in many countries all over the world — Jan Hamilton has the honor of becoming Scotland’s first “transgender” police officer.
While I’m not fond of the headline of this article about Ms. Hamilton — “Sex Change Army Hero Jan to Become Scotland’s First ‘Transgender’ Police Officer” — I found the rest of it to be surprisingly polite.
While the headline screams sensationalism, the article itself reads as almost matter-of-fact, recounting Hamilton’s military career, her desire to join the police force, and what she had to do to become an officer. It comes across as very positive to me.
In addition, Hamilton has received the full support and backing of the police department, which is impressive. And it’s not as if she was on the force for many years and then decided to transition — she has pursued a law enforcement career as an openly trans woman.
But one of the most interesting things about Hamilton is that it appears that she began her transition while still in the military:
“In 2007 Miss Hamilton, as Britain’s first transsexual paratrooper, took the Army to an industrial tribunal on grounds of sex discrimination for its refusal to acknowledge her legally enforced female status.
She won her case and later received a written apology. Since then she has undergone a remarkable physical transformation.”
She won her case and received a written apology? Only in the UK! I guess everyone is polite over there. Can you imagine the U.S. military doing that? Umm, would that be before or after they gave you a dishonorable discharge and took away your pension?
The tone of this article, and the fact that so many trans men and women around the world are pursuing or remaining in law enforcement careers after transition, is a very positive development, in my opinion. Law enforcement tends to be a macho, good-old-boy profession, and a growing acceptance of trans people hopefully signals a trend that will lead to better treatment of trans people by the police overall.
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project reports that trans people are disproportionately incarcerated and that “Trans and gender non-conforming people, particularly trans women of color, are regularly profiled and falsely arrested for doing nothing more than walking down the street.”
Hopefully, people like Jan Hamilton of Scotland and our men and women in blue in the United States and elsewhere (they’re probably not all in blue!) can change this. Safety is a right that everyone should have — in equal proportions.
It makes me feel better to know that we have trans officers out there “protecting and serving.”