Caroline outside of 10 Downing Street, 2012. Courtesy of Caroline Paige. Our fifth blog post for OUTing the Past: The 4th National Festival of LGBT History conference, 3 February, is from Caroline Paige. Caroline, who was the first openly transgender officer in the British Armed Forces, will be exploring ‘Trans Atlantic militaries; how the UK showed the way and the USA lost it; and the implications for LGBTQ rights’. She tells us more -
The full programme for the day can be seen on our website Flight Lieutenant Caroline Paige enjoyed 35 years distinguished service in the RAF. She was born in Wallasey, Wirral in 1959 and was a cadet at 472 Squadron (Air Cadets) in Hoylake. Her service in Iraq and Afghanistan earned her commendations for exceptional service. She now teaches battlefield skills to European military helicopter crews. Caroline is also a Stonewall School Role Model and public speaker. She shares her story to inspire others and raise awareness of transgender inclusion.
"My presentation compares the battles for the right of trans people to serve openly in the Armed Forces of two long-standing allies tainted with a poor history regarding LGBT rights, and how, 18 years after the UK, the USA finally permitted open trans service only to fall foul of the blind-ignorance of a new government; one that threatens the validity of all transgender people and has LGBQ in its sights. My presentation highlights the dangers of complacency by ignoring history, and the worrying emergence of roll-back attitudes to LGBT rights. Why we need positive examples of achievement from the past as much as today. I use the Geography theme by comparing an international experience, with two countries meant to share the same first-world principles of liberty and right yet they follow diverse paths. The potential influences each can have on the other are crucial to LGBTQ rights throughout the world."