Watch: Kentucky State Police Facebook Post Excoriated as Transphobic, Racist

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday May 7, 2021

A May 4 Kentucky State Police Facebook post struck many as "tone deaf" and left some feeling unsafe - and those comments were among the milder commentary.

Others called the post "transphobic" and "racist," or "disgusting" and "discriminatory," reports Lexington, Kentucky CBS affiliate WKYT.

The uproar concerned an image and slogan briefly used by the Kentucky State Police as their Facebook cover photo. The portrait showed nearly a dozen people, many of them in uniform, surmounted by an illustration that depicted a hovering helicopter and the phrase "Our Color is Gray - Our Gender is Trooper."

Those words, said Kentucky State Police Sgt. Billy Gregory in a statement, constituted a longtime slogan for the force, NBC affiliate Lex18 reported.

"Over the past 25 years, the Kentucky State Police has used the phrase to demonstrate that the agency is committed to racial and gender inclusivity," Sgt. Gregory said in the statement. "Prior to today, we were unaware of any concerns raised about the phrase.

"Given that KSP is committed to providing professional services to everyone in the commonwealth and is actively pursuing a diverse workforce, we look forward to discussing and learning more about the concerns raised today," the statement added.

Louisville newspaper the Courier Journal recalled that the slogan has resurfaced over the years, with "the agency featuring it in various tweets over the years to promote recruitment and diversity efforts."

The image received such pushback that it was taken down by the end of the following day, reports said.

A comment responding to the image demanded, "What is this tone deaf nonsense?"

That comment went on to add: "Because all this campaign tells me is that KSP finds using play on words at the expense of POC and trans (folks) acceptable," the Courier Journal said.

One man, Alyxander Rowan, who identifies as trans, said the slogan struck him as saying that the Kansas State Police "don't take seriously the struggles people of color and trans people and trans people of color face," Lex18 reported. Rowan added that he wouldn't be sure, if he needed the services of the police force, that "they would respect me or respect my gender."

Kentucky LGBTQ advocacy group Fairness Campaign weighed in, with Executive Director Chris Hartman saying that "a uniform and a profession are not an identity," and equating those things "with the color of someone's skin or someone's gender identity, is absolutely irresponsible.," WKYT reported.

"I mean it's quite clear that it's racist, it's transphobic," Hartman added.

"This latest controversy comes after a change in leadership after it was discovered that state police used a training video with quotes from Adolph Hitler and Robert E. Lee," WKYT recalled.

Watch the Lex18 news clip below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.