CAMBRIDGE, NY (NEWS10) – A Washington County officer is making history as the first openly transgender police officer in his rural community. NEWS10’s Anya Tucker shares her story and how she opens doors for others in the LGBTQ community who might dream of a career in law enforcement.
Patrol officer Cora Tefft, who uses the pronoun she/her, describes how she returned to work after a long journey of self-discovery.
The desire to serve and protect began at an early age for Cora, who was named Jason at birth but never really felt like a boy on the inside. “So, I always thought it was weird. And like, I didn’t want to be weird or different. You know, I want to fit in and be normal.
She says the desire to be ‘normal’ has helped her fit in while working in a generally male-dominated career as well as in a marriage. “Before I told my wife, I started watching YouTube videos of trans people. And hearing this person’s story, I knew right away. Like just hooked up. And I just collapsed and I cried all alone.
This internal conflict also collided with the emotional toll of the job. Like the night Officer Tefft recovered the body of a dead young boy from a collapsed snow fort. Soon after, Tefft decided it was time to take a break from his career as a cop.
“And just thinking like, ‘There are two things I can do. I can finally respond to this, and uh, you know, see what’s really there. Or I can keep suppressing it,'” she declared.
Cora says the choice was clear. After an amicable divorce, therapy and meetings with other members of the transgender community, she came out to her family, including her mother and father.
“After kind of going through the initial deep breath, ok, that’s what happens. That is, Cora is the same. Awesome, you know, funny. It’s great to be there, generous and generous that they’ve always been,” said her father, Rick Tefft.
Cora shared her journey, her joy and her new life through often funny and humorous social media posts.
Yet something was still missing. It was the police work she had first felt compelled to do. Returning to her job at the Cambridge-Greenwich Police Service, Cora became the first openly transgender police officer in her small rural service. If not the first in several upstate New York counties, says his boss, Sgt. Rob Danko.
“What she does is open doors for people in transition or already in transition who are looking to help their communities,” Danko said.
“I can wake up and be myself now. which is great. Yeah, I just hope it can show other people who maybe don’t follow the standards that they can do whatever they want in life,” Cora says.
Cora says she has so far been well received by fellow officers, but sadly has lost friends in the LGBTQ community due to distrust of law enforcement. She says she really hopes to change that perception.