Flight Lieutenant | Royal Air Force | 1980 – 2014
(She | Her | Hers)
Caroline joined the Royal Air Force in January 1980, serving 35 years as a navigator on fast jets and battlefield helicopters. In February 1999 she became the first openly serving transgender officer in the British Armed Forces.
Caroline flew air defence fighters, providing air defence of the UK and Falkland Islands during the Cold War, and deployed as a Tactical Air Operations Officer during the build up to Gulf War 1. In 1992 she volunteered for trooping helicopters, seeing service in Bosnia with the UN in 1995, and in Northern Ireland.
Her gender transition raised demands for her immediate dismissal, as ‘a liability and danger to personnel on operations’, but Caroline met all challenges,
becoming a highly respected tactics specialist and receiving several commendations for exceptional service in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2011 she received a PUS MOD award for her trailblazing service and dedication to evolving tri-service transgender inclusion policy and support.
After retiring from the RAF she formed her own company, teaching tactics skills to European Defence Agency military helicopter crews, and as an inspirational speaker, speaking to businesses, corporations, charities, universities, and schools. She also writes articles and blogs and has participated in over 35 TV and radio interviews. She is a Patron of Liverpool City Region Pride Foundation, a Stonewall School Role Model, and volunteers with Schools OUT UK’s ‘Outing the Past’ team, delivering a national LGBT History Month festival. Her autobiography True Colours was published in 2017 and she is a co-author of the military LGBT+ anthology Fighting With Pride.