In the 1990s Cookson transferred to support helicopters and weapons detection systems, and was in the front line in the buildup to the first Gulf War, and in Bosnia.
After consultation with RAF doctors, the flight lieutenant was approved for transition. As Caroline Paige, she was transferred to a ground posting. She paid for her own operation.
After surgery in 2000, Flight Lieutenant Paige returned to flying duties, and has since completed seven operational tours.
She advised personnel staffs in the drafting of initial Guidance and Policy documents regarding transgender people within the RAF.
- Michael Paterson. “RAF navigator has sex swap”. The Telegraph. 14 Aug 2000. www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1352735/RAF-navigator-has-sex-swap.html.
- “Transgender Rep – Flt Lt Caz Page”. Your RAF LGBT Forum Committee. www.proud2serve.net/british-armed-forces/lgbt/royal-air-force/royal-air-force-lgbt-forum/483-your-raf-lgbt-forum-committee.
The Wikipedia article claims Paige as the first RAF officer to transition. Well. only if you don’t count Roberta Cowell who was a Spitfire pilot in the Second World War, Lynne Janine Braithwaite, who was in the RAF for 40 years, and Ruth Rose, a navigator in the RAF for many years, who expects surgery at age 70.
And of course Michelle Marshall and Ayla Holdom are also serving in the RAF.
We might also mention Rex Jameson/Mrs Shufflewick, who was in the RAF’s entertainment section, but of course never transitioned.
And lastly, there is Foxy Roxy who, after 23 years in the RAF, has come to a bad end.