CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Washington County officer is making history as the first openly transgender police officer within her rural community. NEWS10’s Anya Tucker shares her story and how she is opening doors for others within the LGBTQ community who may dream of a career in law enforcement.

Patrol Officer Cora Tefft, who uses the pronoun she/her, describes how she has returned to the job after a long road along a path to self-discovery. 

The desire to serve and protect began at an early age for Cora, who was named Jason at birth, however never really felt like a boy on the inside. “So, I always thought, like, it was weird. And like, I didn’t want to be weird or different. You know, I want to fit in and be normal.”

She says the desire to be “normal” helped with fitting in while working in a typically male dominated career as well in a marriage. “Before I told my wife, I started looking at YouTube videos of trans people. And hearing this person’s story, I knew right there and then. Like everything just connected. And I just broke down and cried by myself.”

This internal conflict also collided with the emotional toll of the job. Like on the night when Officer Tefft recovered the body of a young boy who had died inside a collapsed snow fort. Soon after, Tefft decided it was time to take a break from being a cop.

“And just thinking like, ‘There are two things I can do. I can finally address this, and um, you know, see what’s really there. Or I can continue to repress it,'” she said.

Cora says the choice was clear. After an amicable divorce, therapy, and meeting others within the transgender community, she came out to her family, including her mom and dad.

“After you kind of get through the initial, deep breath, ok this is what’s going on. It’s, Cora is the same. Awesome, you know, funny. Great to be around, giving, generous person they always were,” said her father, Rick Tefft. 

Cora has shared her journey, her joy and new life through often fun and humorous posts on social media. Yet something was still missing. It was the police work she had initially felt compelled to do. By returning to her job with the Cambridge-Greenwich Police Department, Cora has become the first openly transgender officer within her small rural department. If not the first within several counties in upstate New York, says her boss Sgt. Rob Danko.

“What she is doing is opening doors for people that are in the process of transitioning or already transitioned and looking to help their communities,” said Danko.

“I get to wake up and just be myself now. Which is great. Yeah, I just hope it can show other people that maybe don’t follow the norms that they can do whatever they want to do in life,” Cora says.

Cora says she has so far experienced a positive reception from fellow officers, but has unfortunately, lost some friends in the LGBTQ community due to mistrust of law enforcement. She says she is really hoping to change that perception.