A young Queensland police officer says he did not experience any discrimination while transitioning from a woman to a man during his time working as a general duties officer.
Constable Mairead Devlin, who was once a straight girl, told The Sunshine Coast Daily that growing up, she didn’t understand why she always felt uncomfortable in her own body.
“I just thought that I put a lot of the discomfort I had with my own body down to normal body issues,” he said.
“Had I known that trans was more than ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’, I probably would have come around a lot sooner.”
It wasn’t until she started experiencing feelings of envy towards the look of male bodies that Mairead started questioning her gender identity.
“I went through an intense couple of months where I tried to figure everything out. Once I realised, I thought, I’m meant to do that,” he said.
Constable Devlin said he had strong support from his family, and has not experienced any negativity from colleagues at Caboolture station, where he is currently posted.
“I’m at a big station with close to 80 officers and I’m yet to have someone enter a negative opinion,” he said.
It was not quite a smooth journey for Valerie Wagstaff, the trailblazing first transgender officer in the New South Wales police force.
“I always wanted to be a woman, but what I think you do is suppress it,” the 51 year-old said.
Sergeant Wagstaff told Fairfax that she struggled through childhood and adolescence feeling like she was “a square peg that couldn’t fit into a round hole” – being a woman stuck in a man’s body.
She transitioned in her early 20s and said she experienced a lot of discrimination.
In one incident while training at the police academy in the 90s, she was grabbed on the arm by a constable who called her “a dirty fucking tranny”.
Now, 18 years later, Sergeant Wagstaff gives talks to all new recruits about her experiences and gender diversity.
There are now believed to be three transgender officers in the New South Wales police force.
Recently, a working group was established to look at its transgender policies, with the aim of encouraging more recruits from the trans community.
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Discrimination Claims, said the more diversity in our police forces, the better for the community.
“The more that our police reflect the wide kaleidoscope of human beings that make up our society, the better their understanding will be, and the better the outcomes will be when issues arise from time to time,” he said.
“It’s good to see that the old horrible ‘boys club’ culture that once existed in our police forces is being broken down by people like Mairead and Valerie who have the courage to live their lives being true to themselves.”
If you believe you have suffered discrimination based on your sex, gender, or sexuality, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call Discrimination Claims today on 1300 853 837.
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