A British Army officer has claimed she was told to shoot herself when she revealed to her commanding officer that she was trans.
Decorated parachutist Abigail Austen was the first officer in the military to begin sex reassignment while serving in the military.
She came out as Abi in 2007. But when she notified her boss, she was told she had “gone from hero to zero in one sentence.”
The 58-year-old, who was going through a lengthy court case after being fired from the service when she came out, said she was told to shoot herself.
Abi told Rachel Johnson’s Difficult Women podcast the officer’s response: “The exact quote is “you just went from hero to zero in one sentence.”
Decorated parachutist Abigail Austen, 58, was the first military officer to begin sex reassignment while serving in the military
Speaking to Rachel Johnson on her Difficult Women podcast, Ms Austen revealed that her commanding officer told her to shoot herself when she came out as transgender.
“Then I was told to go get a revolver and go in the back.”
She described how many in the military viewed being transgender as a psychiatric condition.
“I’m definitely serious – that’s what I’ve been told.
“I was decorated by Prince Edward, which is what they told me to do.
“I was taken off the post literally overnight. I was medically discharged.
“The military saw it as a psychiatric illness or a perversion.”
Ms Austen said she was treated similarly to US soldiers who were dishonorably discharged if they were found to be homosexual.
Legislation introduced in the US in 1993 banned people who were openly members of the LGBT+ community from serving in the armed forces, and prohibited discrimination against incarcerated members of the community.
The legislation, known as the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, was not lifted until 2011, after Democrat Barack Obama was elected.
Mrs Austen told Mrs Johnson: ‘The next day my family disowned me – it wasn’t a great week.
“The day after, I walked down the street and I didn’t look at all like I do now — I looked like your brother (Boris Johnson) in lipstick.
“A man came up to me and punched me in the face.
“At the end of that week I felt I had to do something about this because it was unacceptable.
So I sued them. I fought them for two and a half years.’
Ms. Austen described how she switched completely and got a new ID and changed her name.
Ms. Austen returned to the military, but this time served for NATO and deployed alongside American soldiers
In the end, the military accepted and officially confirmed that theyvery first female officer in the parashooting regiment.’
Mrs. Austen continued, “I was the first woman ever to go on Special Air Service. I had all that.
“I said, ‘that was great,’ and I pushed the army where the sun don’t shine.”
She spoke of some of the difficulties of her transition and how it has made her more aware of misogyny: “I’ve had to accept the fact that nothing I do as a woman will ever carry me as much as it did when the world saw me as a man.”
“That’s just the nature of society.”
After leaving the army in 2009, Ms Austen became a police officer with Police Scotland and has written her own book.
But shortly after becoming a police officer, she served in the military again – this time alongside US soldiers for NATO in Afghanistan.
She served in the regiment for three years, before becoming the first openly trans-diplomatic ambassador and touring the world.
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