Safe spaces have gotten so safe that even members of the groups they’re hoping to keep safe can be excluded for fear of triggering others. This was what happened earlier this month to San Diego Police Officer Christine Garcia.
Garcia was asked to leave a Transgender Day of Remembrance event even though she is transgendered. Why was she asked to leave? Because she showed up to the event wearing her police uniform.
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Garcia had spent the day providing security for the Day of Awareness’s march. She was part of the team tasked with protecting the very people who would later turn her away. She was asked “to leave because her uniform could upset others in attendance,” according to the LA Times.
The irony gets more complex. Garcia had been on the 12-person committee that planned the Day of Awareness.
Garcia is San Diego’s only openly transgender cop, and is often celebrated for her willingness to fight for what she believes in.
“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.”
She didn’t. When she came out, she received “a flood of support from colleagues — some of whom she had never spoken to before. A lot of them came to me and said, ‘You know what, you’re a good cop, and that’s all the matters’… It was very inspiring to me.”
What is less inspiring is the thought that a cop uniform could inspire such fear. Garcia, and many in the trans community, are likely accustomed to being judged for what they’re wearing, but it doesn’t make the judgement any easier. And it had to be more poignant when those who were doing the judging were there to remember those who had been killed becasue of their gender identity.
San Diego LGBT Community Center CEO Dr. Delores Jacobs called the issue a “misunderstanding.”
“When [police officers] are attending events, they are not here to ‘police’ The Center — though they may be in uniform or on-duty…,” Jacobs wrote. “We do not wish to ever make any community member feel unwelcome at The Center — these officers are valued members of our community.”
That seemed like a reasonable apology until Jacobs threw in the caveat “that The Center has a responsibility to respect members who may not trust uniformed officers.”