First openly transgender recruit graduates from Philly Police Academy

Kristen Johanson
February 28, 2020 - 4:06 pm
Philadelphia Police Academy

Kristen Johanson/KYW Newsradio

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NORTH PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The first openly transgender recruit graduated from the Philadelphia Police Academy Friday, hoping to set a precedent of acceptance and open the door for future officers.

More than three dozen cadets stepped up to the stage at Temple University to salute top brass and officially graduate as the first academy class under Commissioner Danielle Outlaw

Among the newly sworn in: Officer Benson Churgai. The 24-year-old is the first openly transgender officer to come through the academy.

At first, he was nervous to tell his graduating class.

“I came out to them about how the (police) patch symbolizes different words, about how we have different words — honor, service and integrity — on the badge. With integrity, it’s about being truthful, and I wanted to be truthful with them,” he said.

To his surprise, they stood up and gave him a standing ovation.

Over the last several months, Churgai went through all the physical training, adhering to the male guidelines.

“I didn’t get any special privileges,” he noted. “I got held to all the same standards as every other male recruit in the academy, and I was able to pass all the requirements.”

He hopes to continue to advocate and educate both the community and fellow officers through the department’s Gay Officers Action League (GOAL).

“Just because someone is a part of the LGBTQIA+ community doesn’t mean they get treated any differently than anyone else. They get treated the same just like anyone else. We are all humans at the end of the day,” he said.

“You have to be truthful to who you are. You can’t hide who you are.”