Christina Garcia, an accident investigation officer for the San Diego Police Department (SDPD), prepares for the worst every day. but in her personal life the 32-year-old has struggled with her own difficulties.
In July 2015 Garcia prepared for a backlash after she announced to the department that she was transgender.
“Telling 1,800 officers that I’m transgender and not knowing how they were going to treat me was my biggest obstacle,” Garcia said. “ 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.”
Garcia said she has struggled with gender identity for years.
“I knew I was different since I was a child,” she said. “Being very young I didn’t know what I was going through. I didn’t quite know why I felt this way.”
She first came out to Dan Meyer, the LGBT liaison sergeant at the department.
“I was really having a tough time with it,” she said. “I didn’t know of any other transgender officers, and I didn’t know you could be transgender and be a police officer.”
“This definitely was a first for the San Diego Police Department,” Meyer said. “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.”
Garcia said the hardest part of transitioning from Chris wasn’t telling her family, it was telling her fellow officers, but instead of a backlash, a flood of support came through for Christina.
“Proud of you. You have my full support. Let me know if you need anything,” one officer wrote.
“Please tell Chris I am proud of him and wish him the best in this process,” another wrote.
“He is stronger than I have ever been,” another officer wrote.
“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,'” Garcia explained. “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.”
Garcia relied on The Center, a place of support for the LGBT community, during and after her transition, and now hopes to bring the same kind of support to the community she polices.
“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.”