Transgender Man Becomes First British 'Woman' to Serve on Front Lines

In July, Britain changed the rules to allow women to serve in Army combat positions such as the cavalry, infantry, and armored corps, as well as the Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force. But the first "woman" to serve on the front lines was actually born a man.

"It's a great honour to make history," Chloe Allen, a biological male born "Ben Allen" who has started taking hormones to transition into a woman, told Britain's The Sun. She will continue her role as a Rifleman and driver of a 28-ton Mastiff armored truck. She began cross-dressing at the age of eight, but only "came out" recently. Allen recalled being caught off guard when a fellow serviceman discovered her dressed in female gear, and how the situation enabled her to make her transition public.

"If it hadn't happened I'd still be living a lie now," she said, reportedly without a trace of irony. Indeed, biologically she is now living a lie — every cell in her body has the male X and Y chromosomes. Allen called the event which pushed her to open up about becoming transgender "a blessing in disguise — the kick up the a**e I needed to get on and deal with it."

Since declaring her intention to become a woman, Allen said she was broadly accepted as a woman. "I'm just looked at as a normal person," she explained. Her family was "a bit shocked but overall they were fine with it." When she opened up to her boss, "it was just like talking to my boss about work."

"It's brilliant, it's amazing," the solder declared. Indeed, the broad acceptance of a biological man declaring himself a woman and being treated as the first woman to serve in combat in the British army certainly seems amazing. As for "brilliant," some might disagree.

The Sun reported that Allen "now makes history as the first — and so far only — female infantry soldier since the Army began in 1660."

The Sun also referred to Allen as "she" even before her open declaration of transgenderism. "Choe's first attempt at joining the military with the Royal Artillery ended when she tore ankle ligaments at 16. But she recovered and finally joined the infantry at 20," the paper reported (emphasis added).

For the record, Allen was conflicted about her transgender identity. As a child, Ben Allen periodically threw out the female clothes he wore in order to "purge" his desire to be a woman. "It got very frustrating at times and I didn't know where I was, I didn't really fit in at school that well and it just went on like that for quite a few years. I wasn't happy in myself."

One thing Allen seems never to have been conflicted about is the desire to serve. "I'd wanted to join since I was three," the soldier recalled. "It's just the patriotism and things like that, I love this country."

Next Page: How much will Allen's life change after becoming a "woman?" Does Britain's army commander also consider Allen the "first woman" on the front lines?