AUSTIN (KXAN) — The first openly transgender Austin police officer, Gregory Abbink, is being honored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) this weekend for his courage coming out and inspiring others to do the same.

Abbink joined us in the KXAN studio along with the HRC Gala co-chair, Lynn Currie, who stopped by to preview the event.

The HRC will be giving Abbink the Bettie Naylor Visibility Award. Abbink said “the woman after whom this award is named fought hard for equality and equal rights and for them to recognize me for my visibility and just simply sharing my story and encouraging others to do the same, to be courageous and treat people with dignity and respect no matter what our differences are.”

Currie said Abbink was chosen for “being visible and coming out and actually just being a great citizen and being a great cop.” Abbink was one of the first names brought up to receive the award.

Abbink came out in 2014 inspired by his 18-year-old nephew’s courage telling his family he is transgender. Another reason Abbink said led him to come out, was the climate and the atmosphere in the city of Austin. He said especially in the Austin police department working for Chief Acevedo, he knew that he would be safe and supported disclosing his journey and transition to his fellow officers.

When asked if other police departments would be as open as APD, Abbink said unfortunately he has heard a lot of stories about other officers coming out and being discriminated against or even fired.

For those who might fear coming out, Abbink says “You’re never alone, there’s always going to be somebody, such as HRC, and so many other organizations and resources that are there, they will help you they will guide you.”

From Abbink’s perspective in law enforcement, he said “we will protect you, we will not let you be alone, we will not let you go through this by yourself or face any sort of harm.”

For more information or to buy tickets for the event visit their website here.