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Zoey 101: Zoey Tur asks 'Where are the transgender news anchors?'

Zoey Tur, the former macho helicopter pilot and tv newsman, is just a few weeks from the final surgery.
Zoey Tur, the former macho helicopter pilot and tv newsman, is just a few weeks from the final surgery.
Courtesy Zoey Tur

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John Rabe continues his candid interviews with Zoey Tur, the former hyper-macho helicopter pilot Bob Tur, who is now just weeks away from the final surgery and hoping to return to journalism.

If you know your recent L.A. history, you know the name Bob Tur. He* piloted the helicopter that hovered above Reginald Denny's beating during the L.A. Riots. He found O.J. Simpson during his slow-speed chase.

He was macho, depressed, and sometimes suicidal. He realized it was Gender Identity Disorder, also known as gender dysphoria, and started hormone replacement on May 6, 2013, becoming Zoey Tur. I interviewed Zoey at KPCC in June, then posted this after another interview in September:

"Today, after not seeing Zoey since our first interview, I met her in Santa Monica, and we talked about the transition (it's going well, but the drugs do much more than she expected), men (she's being relegated to the 'girls' table), dating (she and her girlfriend both decided they didn't want to date a woman, and she thinks straight men don't want to date MacGuyver), and Bradley Manning (she blames the Army as much as Manning)."

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Zoey came back into the studio a week ago to check in, and the further changes are notable:

"I have a thinner waist, I have larger legs, I have breasts — a B-cup — and also there's been feminizing effects to the skin. So I have softer skin. I don't have any body hair ... and my (head) hair grew back! So for all the guys out there who are worried about male-pattern baldness, there's a solution (laughing)...The problem is you gotta be a woman to get your hair back."

And the laughing is important. Zoey says the dysphoria that caused depression and anger is gone, and she's now at peace inside. It makes sense: Bob's body chemistry was at war with his brain. Now, Zoey is at war with her former insurance company:

"Blue Shield of California claims that they don't have to follow California law. They don't cover transgender care, which is a violation of AB 1586, and also the Managed Care Board directive K-12. So, the state let me get a new insurance company, but they're investigating."

I asked Blue Shield to comment on Zoey Tur's allegations. It provided the following statement:

"We’ll have to decline to comment on the individual due to medical privacy laws. But generally speaking, an inadequate number of providers are able to perform these procedures, which drives up costs and hinders our ability to secure appropriate specialists. We are working with state regulators and others to address this issue."  

RELATED: Transgender LA artists Drucker & Ernst debut at Whitney Biennial

Zoey says the surgery she is getting ready to undergo in late June, which will essentially change her penis into a vagina, "doesn't scare me."

"What scares me more is the loss of the male privilege and the also way transsexuals and transgender people are treated in this country. And also I'm really worried about transitioning. Will I be able to work in broadcast news again? There's not a single transgender transsexual person on the air in the United States that's open. And I don't know of anyone that's living stealth that's a broadcast reporter."

There's much more in our audio interview. Please click the "Listen Now" button on the top left. 

*After consultation with Zoey: "He" refers to the pre-May 6, 2013 Bob Tur, when the hormone therapy started, and "she" refers to Zoey Tur after that date.