A District of Columbia policeman who underwent a sex-change operation late last year asked the police department yesterday to be restored to active duty as a woman -- the first transsexual to seek a position on the 4,100-member police force.
Bonnie Davenport -- formerly Ormus W. Davenport III, an eight-year veteran of the force -- went to the D.C. Police and Fire Clinic in Southwest Washington and began a series of physical and psychological tests in hopes she will be found fit to return to active duty.
Davenport, 35, said her sex-change operation two months ago was totally successful. "Now I'm ready to go back to work in the one job I really want to do... I love police work," she said.
The clinical tests she is taking this week are routine for all officers returning from extended leave. Davenport has been on leave without pay since last February in preparation for the sex-change surgery.
"I've got a clean bill of health from my gynecologist, from my doctor and from my psychologist... I am a complete woman," she said in an interview.
A board of surgeons at the clinic is expected to rule on her case in the next few weeks. The board could recommend either restoration to duty or retirement on medical disability for Davenport.
Police officials would not comment publicly on the case. Some said privately, however, that they could not see how the transsexual surgery, by itself, could bar Davenport from reinstatement and that she would probably be judged on the same basis of physical and psychological stability as other employes.
At the clinic yesterday, Davenport said she is confident she will do well on the tests. She said she had already established a good record in her previous years on the force when, as a male officer, she was assigned to the 2nd and 4th districts in the city.
As a police officer, Davenport was involved in undercover work. She was assigned to the celebrated "Sting" phony police undercover fencing operation in 1976 and the subsequent "Gotcha Again" operation that resulted in scores of arrests of burglary and fencing suspects.
Davenport's "gender conversion" surgery was performed by Dr. Stanley Biber, a general surgeon at Mount San Rafael Hospital in Trinidad, Colo.
"She'll be much better off than she was before," Biber said in a telephone interview yesterday. "Finally, her body and her gender are matched."
Biber, who says he has performed more than 350 sex-change operations, described Davenport as a "good patient with excellent evaluations." She underwent two years of psychiatric counseling and hormone treatments, plus nearly a year of "working in the role of a woman" -- all prerequisites to successful physical conversion to the female sex, Biber said.
He said the operation involved removal of Davenport's male sexual organs and surgical construction of female organs. He said she is normal except that she has no uterus and cannot bear children.
Davenport said yesterday she received hormone treatments at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore before being referred to Biber in Colorado. She worked at various private security jobs and as a manager of a local apparel shop during her leave from the police department, she said.
She said she paid for the surgery herself even though her income fell from the $17,000 she was earning annually on the police force to about $5,000.
Formerly married and a widower, Davenport has three children, two boys and a girl aged 10, 11 and 12, now living with grandparents.
Asked how the children have accepted her sex change, Davenport said, "They're just wonderful; they have been wonderful about it."