Media people

On becoming Zoey Tur

Zoey-lamag.jpgZoey Tur by Joe Pugliese in January's Los Angeles Magazine

In the January issue of Los Angeles Magazine, Ed Leibowitz follows along as the celebrated news helicopter pilot formerly known as Bob Tur makes the transition to life as Zoey Tur. Tur first went public in the media in June 2013, and has talked with John Rabe at KPCC along the way. Leibowitz knew Tur from before and his reporting on the transition progressed over 18 months.

"As the most famous helicopter news pilot in American history, Bob Tur prided himself on being the ultimate alpha male. Except all along, he knew he wasn’t," reads the deck hed for the story. The piece opens with Tur arriving at LAX from Thailand last summer and confronting passport control with the dual realities of her new identity and his old name.

If the agent recognized the most storied helicopter news pilot in American history—if he remembered Bob Tur from when he hovered over the beating of trucker Reginald Denny at the flash point of the 1992 L.A. riots or when he delivered live coverage of O.J. Simpson’s fleeing Ford Bronco to a world audience in 1994—he gave no indication. He compared the man in the photo with the woman standing before him in the purple silk dress and sun hat, her newly feminized face still swollen from plastic surgery. Zoey’s lips were plumper than Bob’s. The jawline gently curved where once it had angled sharply. The brow bone no longer jutted past the searching blue eyes.

If anyone had the authority to question Zoey’s identity as a woman, it was this public official examining the passport of the man she used to be. But when the agent looked up, he spoke with a warmth that surprised her.

“What have we been up to in Thailand?” he asked with a genial smile.

“I had a sex change,” Zoey said.

How long had she been gone? Three weeks, Zoey said.

“Can you do everything in three weeks?” he asked, genuinely impressed.

“I did,” said Zoey, seeing no need to factor in the 16 months of physical and emotional turmoil that had preceded the surgeries.

“Wow!” the agent said, waving Zoey through. “Welcome home, miss.”

Previously at LA Observed:
Chopper pilot Bob Tur says he is becoming a woman

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Media people stories on LA Observed:
Walking through 4,000 photographs with Annie Leibovitz
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Joe Frank, somewhere out there
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Michael Bloomberg
Put Jamal Khashoggi Square outside the Saudi consulate on Sawtelle
Here's who the LA Times has newly hired*