Britain’s first female infantry soldier to serve in the Army has told how she was born a boy and is honoured “to be able to make history”.
Chloe Allen, who joined the service in 2012 as a man called Ben, serves as a member of 1st Battalion, the Scots Guards.
The 24-year-old soldier, from Cumbria, changed her name last month and has now begun hormone therapy treatment.
She is the first female infantry soldier to serve since the Army was established in 1660.
Speaking to The Sun, Guardsman Allen said: “It is a great honour to be able to make history and at the same time do my job, it’s just brilliant, I’m just looked at as a normal person.
“I’d love to inspire people to just come out and be themselves, as much as it’s a big bad world, it’s not as bad as what people think it is, and it’s easier when you’ve got your mates and your bosses behind you.
“I didn’t set out to make history, it’s just the way it’s happened.
“There’s nothing that can stop me at all, this is not just a job, this is a career for me.”
Guardsman Allen was caught by a fellow soldier cross-dressing, and decided to reveal her wishes to change her gender after speaking to the wife of one of her friends.
She told the newspaper: “It took another eight months to a year before I told anyone in the battalion that I wanted to do it.
“My transition has been as easy as it could have got for me, the battalion has been brilliant, the Army has been brilliant, the lads have been brilliant.”
She added: “You do ask yourself, ‘am I sure I’m going to go through with this, am I sure this is right for me?’
“But everyone’s different that is transgender, everyone has different thoughts they are across the same lines. It’s more about accepting yourself.”
Rules which banned women from Ground Close Combat units – where troops were required to “close and kill” with enemy combatants – were only changed in July this year.
Last month, the British Army made the decision that Guardsman Allen could remain with the Scots Guards, where she is a Rifleman and a driver for 28-ton Mastiff armoured trucks.
As part of her role, she also conducts ceremonial duties including at the Trooping of the Colour and guarding Buckingham Palace.
General Sir James Everard, Commander of the Field Army, said: “I’m delighted to have our first woman serving in a ground close combat unit.
“The British Army is really proving itself as an inclusive organisation where everyone is welcome and can thrive. Recent awards from Stonewall and the opening up of all elements of military service to women are clear evidence of this.
“Being the first of anything takes courage. I applaud Guardsman Chloe Allen for being a trendsetter and wish her every success.”