RAF search and rescue pilot Ayla Holdom was outed as trans by the Sun newspaper with a particularly crude metaphor, but rather than let that deter her, she has used the publicity to bring greater awareness to trans issues and visibility. We're proud to award Ayla one of our inaugural Attitude Pride Awards in tonight's ceremony, in association with Delta Air Lines. Watch Ayla tell her inspiring story in her own words below:
34-year-old Ayla is a hero. Not only does she save lives (and fly) for a living as a helicopter pilot in the RAF’s Search and Rescue Force at RAF Chivenor in North Devon, but during a global movement towards transgender acceptance, she’s also proven to be a brilliant ambassador for the community. In 2010 she was outed by The Sun during the early stages of her transition thanks to the fact that, at the time, one of her colleagues happened to be a certain Prince William.
“I think the headline was ‘Prince Will’s pal loses his chopper’, or something along those lines,” she recalls. She can smile about it now, but it was no laughing matter at the time. “At first I hoped that I would avoid it, and that I would quietly be left alone to get on with my life and my job.” No such luck. “I felt vilified, and set upon by the world, almost. I felt alone. Whatever the media wanted to write about me, whatever caricature they wanted to portray, there was no way of fighting that and telling the truth. I had no voice.”
You can read more about Ayla and the rest of our wonderful Attitude Pride Award winners in the new issue of Attitude, in shops now. You can download the mag from Pocketmags.com/Attitude or order a copy from newsstand.co.uk/Attitude.