First Openly Serving Transgender Officer in the British Armed Forces
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Caroline was the first transgender officer who served openly in the UK military for sixteen years after transition. She retired from the RAF after thirty-five years of service as a fast jet and battlefield helicopter navigator. Caroline has contributed significantly to the LGBT+ military community as an Equality and Diversity Adviser and is joint CEO of Fighting With Pride.
Caroline Paige served for thirty-five years in the Royal Air Force as a navigator on fast jets and battlefield helicopters. She became the first openly serving transgender officer in the British Armed Forces.
She flew air defence fighters, providing air defence of the UK and Falkland Islands during the Cold War, and was deployed to Saudi Arabia during the build-up to Gulf War 1. Caroline volunteered for trooping helicopters, with deployments to Northern Ireland and to Bosnia with the UN, as part of a Rapid Reaction Force Operational Staff.
Caroline’s gender transition raised demands for her immediate dismissal, as ‘a liability and danger to personnel on operations’, but she became a highly respected tactics specialist receiving several commendations for ‘exceptional service’ in Iraq and Afghanistan, including a CinC-Air Commendation in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List. She received a Permanent Under-Secretary MoD award for her trailblazing service and dedication to evolving tri-service transgender inclusion policy and support.
After retiring from the RAF, Caroline formed her own company, teaching tactics skills to European military helicopter crews, and as an inspirational speaker, championing diversity and inclusion with businesses, organisations, universities, and schools. She has written articles and blogs and participated many TV and radio interviews.
She wrote her autobiography True Colours and is a co-author of the military LGBT+ anthology Fighting With Pride.
Caroline talks about her personal experiences, enlightening people to help them to better understand themselves and how they regard others. She provides an opportunity for people to listen, learn, and understand what it means to be diverse, and remove apprehension and misunderstandings.
She advised the Palm Center, San Francisco State University, regarding a national commission offering implementation guidance seeking the inclusion of openly serving transgender personnel in the US military. Caroline was also invited as a panel member at a conference on Perspectives on Transgender Military Service From Around the Globe, in Washington DC.
Caroline is a Patron of Liverpool City Region Pride Foundation, a member of Liverpool Football Club’s LGBT+ Advisory Group, a Stonewall School Role Model, and Honorary President of No 472 (Hoylake and West Kirby) Squadron, RAF Air Cadets.
She was awarded the British Ex-Forces in Business Awards’ Champion of Women Award, and the Women In Defence Equality of Opportunity Award. Caroline was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Middlesex University, for her relentless work, commitment, and achievements in EDI.
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