Trans British army officer faced flack from social media users for appearing on a panel for ‘women in leadership’ at Sandhurst Military academy.

Deborah Penny who works on the Army Diversity Engagement Team spoke to women on the ‘lived experience’ of women in the military.

Who is Deborah Penny?

WO2 (Warrant Officer 2) Penny was born in Pakistan’s Karachi West in 1966. She enlisted in the army in September 1982, and in January 1984 she reported to her first unit (19 Fd Regt RA) in Germany. She went back to the UK in 1986, finished the commando course, and then served with the 29th Commando Regiment Royal Artillery until 1999.

She qualified as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Operator and transferred as an Ammunition Technician to the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC) in 1999. She was posted to 621 EOD Squadron RLC after being promoted to Sgt.

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Additionally, she has held positions as the Ammunition Warrant Officer for Bovington and Lulworth as well as an instructor at the Amy School of Ammunition in Kineton.

WO2 Penny has deployed on international exercises to the United States, Sardinia, Norway, Belize, and Brunei throughout her career. She has also made operational deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, and Cyprus.

In 2004, WO2 Penny revealed to the Army, her loved ones, and her friends that she was transgender. She was allowed to begin her transition after two years, and it took her until 2010. She was the first transgender soldier in an operational theatre when she deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 for her first of two tours (Operation HERRICK). After that, she used her insights to create a network for women and LGBTQ+ employees at Bovington Garrison and to offer guidance to the Chain of Command on transgender matters.

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WO2 Penny finished her regular career in 2018 and joined the Reserves. Since then she has been involved in Operations YELLOW HAMMER, REDFOLD and RESCRIPT.

She currently holds the post as the Warrant Officer Diversity Engagement Team as part of the Army Engagement Group.