After a leave, the deputy colleagues knew as Glenn Coy takes a key step in a personal journey, reporting to the Sheriff's Office as Rachel Coy.
By RYAN DAVIS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 3, 2002
It was a year and a half ago that Glenn Coy first set out for the drag club in Tampa. He wore a low-cut, black evening dress with silver sequins, black high heels and Victoria's Secret stockings. He was afraid.
"I had the butterflies in my stomach," said Coy. "It made me feel sick." His concern: "What if I get stopped by a co-worker?"
Coy, 37, is an 11-year-veteran of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
That night, he turned around and drove back to his home in Port Richey. But a few days later, he made it to the club, and Glenn Allen Coy overcame the first hurdle on the way to becoming Rachel Nicole Coy.
Coy said she has always felt like a woman on the inside.
After three failed marriages and three children, she decided last year to make her outward appearance match her internal reality.
She started taking female hormones. In September of this year, she sat down with the Sheriff's Office's director of human resources and Maj. Maurice Radford to tell them she was ready to make more drastic changes.
She took leave early last month as Glenn Coy. She had three surgeries -- a breast enlargement, a facelift and a nose job.
Then came another hurdle.
On Oct. 24 the deputy colleagues had known as Glenn Coy began her first day of Sheriff's Office business as Rachel Coy.
She went to the West Pasco Judicial Center for an investigation at the State Attorney's Office. Wearing high heels, she strode into the courthouse wearing a conservative pants and blouse ensemble. Standing in front of the metal detector was a bailiff who had worked with Glenn Coy as a traffic enforcement deputy.
"I walked in thinking, "What are they going to think? What are they going to say to me?' " Coy recalled last weekend.
The bailiff looked at Coy and said, "Hey, how's it going?"
"We just smiled," Coy said, "and I went through the metal detector.
"That was a big obstacle for me to get over, going to the courthouse as Rachel."
Last weekend, Coy faced another hurdle. A Times reporter knocked on her door. Word of Coy's change to Rachel had spread through the Sheriff's Office, and the reporter wanted to know if she wanted to talk.
At first, she didn't.
She answered the door in a light blue tank top and short jean shorts with little pockets in front. She had a gold "R" necklace, mauve toenails and a gold bracelet with a butterfly. She had not yet spoken about her change to a reporter, but she decided to try.
"Come in," she said. "It's going to get out eventually anyway."
And then, for the next hour and a half, she talked and showed pictures -- even ones of her in a bikini.
At 12, Coy dressed as a girl for Halloween. Some boys whistled, and it made Coy feel good.
She said she used to sleep over at a friend's house, sneak into the bathroom in the early morning and try on the makeup of the friend's mother.
She said her three ex-wives aren't taking the news very well. The second wife initially gave her makeup tips but has soured on the change. The wives aren't letting Coy see her three children -- ages 5, 11 and 12. The children have not been told about their father's new life.
Coy, 6 feet 1 inches tall, said she has lost 50 pounds since last year, when she weighed 220 pounds. She does more than 1,000 stomach crunches a day.
She said she first "really" felt like a woman earlier this year when a man aggressively flirted with her at a bar, wouldn't leave her alone and was thrown out of the bar.
She said the joy she feels is stronger than any of her fears.
Coy said she considered leaving Pasco for San Francisco. But she decided it was more important to be near her children. And she wanted to discover which of her friends would support her.
"I felt it was more appropriate to stay and face my fears," she said.
Most of all, Coy said she wanted to return to work.
"I'm excited to go back to work," Coy said last weekend. "This is more or less like a new adventure. There's going to be hurdles for sure, but I can get over hurdles."
Coy said the Sheriff's Office has been very supportive. And so have her friends there.
"They said, "It's going to take some time getting used to, but we still love you. You're still part of our family,' " Coy said.
Lt. Jerry Jackson supervises Coy's platoon. In early October, with Coy in the room at roll call, he spoke of Glenn's change to Rachel.
"I wanted to get the shock out of the air so everybody stopped walking around on needles," Jackson said. "He's a deputy sheriff. He'll be treated the same as long as he does his job as a deputy. Everything else is a personal issue."
Sheriff Bob White declined to comment on Coy's situation.
"The stance of the sheriff is that his performance as a deputy is the only concern of the sheriff," said White's spokesman, Kevin Doll. "And it's not a concern."
Doll said the agency will continue to consider Coy, who intends to have more surgery, a man until it receives medical or legal paperwork indicating she is a woman.
That means Coy will need to conform to men's grooming standards.
For uniformed patrol deputies such as Coy, there is very little distinction between male and female dress. For Coy, being a man means no earrings. If the agency considered her a woman, she could wear "conservative clip-on or post-type earrings."
Thomas Whetstone of the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville studies the work issues faced by transsexual law enforcement officers.
He has found 50 in the United States and others in Great Britain.
"This is an intensely private matter with this absolutely horrific public component to it, and being in policing they can't really get around the public component."
By nature, law enforcement officers are skeptical of their colleagues, Whetstone said.
"They worry that may reflect on them or their badge and that is something that every police officer holds very near and dear to them," Whetstone said.
But that skepticism typically fades, he said.
"They wonder, "Is this person going to be able to back me up? If the answer is yes, I don't care if they're black, blue, green, male or female."
Monday was Coy's first day patrolling the streets as Rachel.
It started like any other day -- at Dunkin' Donuts.
For a cop who shuns stereotypes, such as police agencies being "boy's clubs," Coy knows this is pretty funny. But it's where she starts each day. She got a breakfast sandwich with extra bacon, egg and cheese.
At 6 a.m. roll call, no one said a word about her change.
Coy handled a report that a contractor had cheated a client. She investigated a prescription fraud allegation. The day went well.
"I was a little sore because of the surgeries," Coy said, "but I'll get better."
The only time she was possibly snickered at, she said, was during her night psychology class at PHCC.
For now, any possible negative repercussions aren't something she wants to discuss. She calls them "other things."
"This is not going to prevent me from doing my job," Coy said, "unless other things happen."