This Friday, Mikayla Connell became the first transgender person to enter and graduate from the San Francisco Police Academy, reports KTVU. Connell was the elected President of her class and took home two awards for academic achievement.
In the video below, Connell describes the honor and pressure that come with being the first, saying, "It means you can't screw up, because you can't ruin it for everyone coming behind you."
"I know people, especially in the trans community, are going to be watching me," she adds. "I can't let them down."
Connell first applied to be a police officer 23 years ago, notes KTVU. "But I was a little immature back then," she explains. She chose to leave the academy and enter the military, then study law.
Now, at age 45, Connell has finally reached her goal more than two decades later, finishing as the oldest member of her class. She brings a wisdom and perspective to her role that will benefit her community.
"There aren't that many transgender police officers, either female-to-male or male-to-female," she says. "[T]he more we have, I think the better connection the department is going to have with the transgender community."