Exclusive: 1st openly transgender NYPD detective shares his story, challenges faced

Mike Marza Image
Thursday, March 3, 2022
1st out transgender NYPD detective shares his story
Mike Marza has more as Det. Ori Harbor shares his story of how he became the NYPD's first openly transgender detective on the force.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The first out transgender detective in the NYPD is sharing his story and describing the ups and downs and the challenges he has faced.

Det. Ori Harbor grew up in Detroit with a younger sister and an older brother.

"I was the amazing middle child," Harbor said. "He actually joined the Marines out of high school...my whole life I was trying to emulate my brother."

Harbor also loved acting.

"I went to Brooklyn College, got my MFA in acting and after I graduated, I ended up staying in New York," Harbor said.

Then after his brother died, Ori wanted to honor his legacy and serve too.

"I was really looking at it from the lens of a Black person and a person of color, and how I can enter the NYPD and bring about that change," Harbor said.

But after five years patrolling Brooklyn as a female officer, Harbor's true change came from within.

"I first started thinking about gender identity, and what that means for me and how I truly identify versus what I was socialized to be," Harbor said.

In 2012, Harbor began socially, physically and medically transitioning to a man.

His sister stopped talking to him and they ended up not speaking for about four years.

Meanwhile, at work, his colleagues were initially confused but ultimately supportive.

"I came into the office one day and said, 'My new name is Ori and my pronouns are he/him/his,'" Harbor said. "They were all confused, they didn't know what the hell I was talking about."

Harbor said for the most part, they were open, accepting and affirming.

That is how he became the NYPD's first openly transgender detective on the force.

"It is definitely monumental, we have other trans in department who aren't out, but for me it's important to be visible," Harbor said.

The NYPD now has a transgender policy providing support to officers and Harbor hosts informational seminars, trying to educate others.

Harbor has been with the NYPD for 15 years and was promoted to detective in December.

"Ten to 15 years from now, I hope transgender issues won't be a thing, because we are living in a world that is equal and fair, and right now, in regard to transgender protection and rights and laws, we're not there yet."

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