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Transgender Law Enforcement Officer Finds Community Acceptance, But Says That Can’t Replace Legal Protections Anna Lange ~ Central Georgia

Since Anna Lange came out as a transgender woman to her central Georgia community, “99 percent of interactions have been positive,” she says.

That wasn’t what she expected. Anna has worked in law enforcement in the area for more than a decade, and she was nervous that her neighbors and coworkers, who are a conservative bunch, wouldn’t understand.

Only a few times have community members expressed discomfort if she was working their case. And those times, she said, the case was especially sensitive, so she’s not entirely sure the discomfort was because she is transgender.

“It’s been a real blessing. I came out to them, and nobody knew any trans people. But when they put a face to a name, and realize that oh, you’re still the same person, then it’s not a big issue. That surprised me.” —Anna Lange

And for her coworkers, she says, “it was a non-issue.”

“It’s been a real blessing. I came out to them, and nobody knew any trans people. But when they put a face to a name, and realize that oh, you’re still the same person, then it’s not a big issue. That surprised me.”

One interaction that wasn’t positive came when Anna was working for a church, directing traffic in and out of the parking lot during services. After she came out the church’s head of security started to question her appearance.

Then, she was called into her superior’s office at the law enforcement agency and met with an accusation of impropriety from the church. An internal investigation completely cleared her, but when she went back to reclaim her traffic gig they said they didn’t need her anymore.

“The first thing the head of security said was, ‘What name are we going to go with today?’ He said they didn’t need any more traffic help, but then they hired a couple of other people anyway.”

To Anna it’s clear they were uncomfortable with her because she is transgender. She was lucky the church’s actions didn’t negatively impact her position with the law enforcement agency. But many transgender people are not so lucky.

“The first thing the head of security said was, ‘What name are we going to go with today?’ He said they didn’t need any more traffic help, but then they hired a couple of other people anyway.”

That’s why Georgia needs a comprehensive, LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination law that—although it wouldn’t apply to religious employers like churches—could protect workers in many similar situations.

“It hurts the state, not having these protections. You might not agree with what we’re doing or all that, but nobody should want anybody to be discriminated against.”

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