24-year-old Chloe, from Cumbria, enlisted with the Scots Guards in 2012 as Ben Allen, but in the past month has undergone hormone therapy and changed her name officially by deed poll. Chloe will make history by becoming the first ever female British soldier permitted to fight in a combat situation.
Speaking to The Sun, Guardsman Allen said that it was a “great honour” to make history, and that she hoped “to inspire people to just come out and be themselves”.
Chloe explained her relief upon discovering how supportive and accepting her fellow soldiers have been since she made the brave decision to become a woman, after initially fearing that it would lead to expulsion from her battalion.
But, when she spoke with a careers officer, she was informed that she could continue in her post as a rifleman and armoured truck driver.
The British Army has also expressed its delight at the news, which follows hot on the heels of this summer’s recommendation by Army head, General Sir Nick Carter, that women should be allowed to serve on the front line in combat roles. The motion was backed by then Prime Minister David Cameron.
The news means that the British Army’s 350-year-old policy of banning women from ground combat roles has now been scrapped for good.
Women were previously allowed to serve on the front line in an auxiliary capacity only, and were prohibited from undertaking any roles within the British Army where the primary duty was to “kill the enemy”.
General Sir James Everard, Commander of the Field Army was full of praise for the new directive and the bravery displayed by Guardsman Allen: “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.”
But the new rules are not without their critics.
Writing in The Times in July, former British Army commander, Colonel Tim Collins said: “The infantry is no place for a woman, and to permit them to serve in close combat roles is a pure politically-correct extravagance.”