A 36-year-old trans man in New Jersey is making history as the state’s first out transgender law enforcement officer.
Detective Connor Johnson, an investigator with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, didn’t always want to work in criminal justice. Since finding his calling, he has spoken out to share his story, the Asbury Park Pressreports.
“I wasn’t the guy that grew up wanting to be a cop,” he said. “My family didn’t have cops in the family. I’m the first law enforcement officer in my family.”
A former Prosecutor’s Office’s Trial Support Fugitive Unit member, Johnson now works in the Prosecutor’s Office’s High Tech Bureau, part of the Internet Crimes Unit and Crime Against Children Task Force.
His previous positions included working for the Morristown Bureau of Police, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, and the Morris County public safety dispatch.
He is also a designated LGBTQ Law Enforcement Liaison, working with peers across the county and throughout New Jersey to educate them on a requirement in the state for law enforcement officials to treat transgender people with dignity and respect, according to the Asbury Park Press.
“Without the education, we can’t create understanding. Without understanding, there’s no acceptance,” Johnson said. “I had to educate myself on who I was. How am I going to expect somebody who isn’t trans to understand if they’re not educated on it as well?”
The paper reports that Johnson has an appeal to others in law enforcement around the country.
“Just treat (transgender people) with respect,” he said. “If (someone asks) you to use their name, and it’s not what is on their license, just use their name. It’s no different (than) if my name was Christopher and I asked you to call me Chris.”
He added, “And educate yourself a little bit about how people feel about pronouns, about why it’s important.”