Monday, January 19, 2015

Meet first transgender military officer in the world

Captain Hannah Winterbourne (right) is the first transgender officer in the world. She was born a man and spent the first few years in the Army as a man before deciding to undergo a sex-change operation while serving in Afghanistan and began her transition in 2013. Now she's the Army’s most highly ranked transgender soldier and the only one to become an officer. She's now in charge of 100 soldiers

From UK Mirror 
“I think initially it was a bit of a shock to some people, they weren’t really expecting it because it’s not something you come across every day in the Army. However I think people soon realised that it didn’t make a difference to my job. At the end of the day I can still do all the things I could do before I transitioned.
“That’s what the Army respects because we’re all about capability and output. That’s what matters.”
Hannah said of her decision to become a woman: “It’s about finding that courage to do it. And that’s not the easiest thing in the world. “I was acting for everyone around me. There was no let up where I could stop that act.” she said
Hannah said that it was impossible to spend time on her own and be honest with herself while serving in Afghanistan.

She added: “That was a nudge which eventually ended up with me coming out and changing myself and my way of life.”

Hannah, the Army’s most highly-ranked transgender soldier, revealed that the battle with her gender began when she was a young lad.

Determined to pursue a career in the Army, she enrolled at a residential college designed for students to enter the Forces.

The Army then sponsored her Electronic Engineering degree at Newcastle University, from where she went on to Sandhurst.

Hannah said: “The point where I realised I was a woman but my body was wrong was around the age of 23 at Sandhurst.

“After I was posted to Germany I decided to go to the doctors and told them. And that’s when my transition process began.”

Hannah has refused to reveal her previous male name, describing it as a ‘label’.

She is now a rep for other transgender servicemen and women and said: “Despite being perceived as a very masculine, old school, organisation the Army’s actually very forward thinking.”

Hannah was commissioned from Sandhurst in 2010 after being selected for officer training aged 15.           

Despite the difficulties of coming out as transgender she said the Army had been “a fantastic employer”.

“I came out as a trans soldier about a year and a half ago when I was in Germany and since then I’ve become the highest ranking, openly serving trans soldier serving in the regular army.

“One of my additional duties is that I’m the transgender representative in the British Army, which sees me dealing with education, welfare and dealing with any issues that trans soldiers may have.

“The British Army is a fantastic employer for trans soldiers. We’ve had policies since 1999 and it’s all really, really clear.”

A film featuring Hannah’s life has appeared online and is due to be broadcast by Channel Four as part of a series of short films about transgender people.

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