After initially being kicked out of the police force when she came out as transgender, Anna Pasantino was this week appointed as a deputy commissioner.
Having served two decades in the federal police before coming out publicly, she was forced to take a leave of absence in 2008, taking psychiatric evaluations every three months to determine whether she was ‘capable’ of rejoining the force.
Initial reports stated that Pasantino suffered from an illness that was incurable, but has since been welcomed back and placed in a new role in the judicial communications department as deputy police commissioner, with Pasantino hailing the decision as “a milestone”.
“I’m the first transgender police chief in Latin America," Pasantino said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"It’s an unprecedented and important step to show Latin America and the world that we are an open institution.”
Joining the police force in 1988, she became a decorated police officer working with the anti-narcotics team while living at home a woman. Supported by her wife, Pasantino went out as a woman during the evening, leaving their home through the garage in an effort to avoid being seen by their neighbours.
Lacking the courage to leave the car, Pasantino’s wife gave her an ultimatum.
“The decisive moment came when my wife finally told me: ‘Either you step out or you’ll never leave the house looking like this again. I’ve put up with you for three hours getting ready and putting on makeup.'”
Pasantino was made to take leave as the force saw her decision to come out in 2008 as an illness, with continuing evaluations on her mental state repeatedly extending her leave.
“It was always seen as illness,” she said.
“As crude as it sounds, the final diagnosis was: a disturbance in gender identity that made me unrecoverable to the police force.”
She was reinstated when the leadership of the federal police changed, with the efforts of the leader of the diversity division within Argentina’s security ministry Mara Perez also praised.
“Mara’s efforts were priceless,” Pasantino said.
“When they said ‘no’ under previous governments, she kept insisting until she succeeded.”
Welcomed back with messages of support from her colleagues, she reflected on how times have changed since her initial induction some 20 years ago.
“The world has changed,” Pasantino said.
“You can live a life of gender identity and it’s no longer necessary to live a double life....
“At first I was a bit overwhelmed by so much attention, but I’m proud to tell this story and I hope it helps others as well.”