Meet The U.K.'s First Burkha-Wearing Transgender Woman: A Former Soldier

It wasn’t that long ago that Lucy Vallender was a male soldier named Laurens and was partying and practicing shooting her military weapons with fellow soldiers. As a private in the U.K.’s Territorial Army (TA) — a volunteer active-duty reservist force — Vallender always felt different. She’s now the U.K.’s first openly transgender woman — and a Muslim woman — and has traded out her camouflage gear for a traditional black veil (burkha) and prays five times a day.

“I suppressed my feelings and tried to live like most people my age.” (Huffington Post)

According to The Safra Project — an Islamic LGTB group — Vallender, who had her surgery in 2010, is probably not the first Muslim transgender woman in the U.K. Vallender herself believes that there are probably more but that they are “frightened” and don’t feel free to be themselves. It’s no wonder. Islam hasn’t been welcoming to a transgender woman or to Vallender in particular.  She hasn’t been welcomed at her mosque as a woman, and is required to pray with the men because of “health and safety.” The Sun reports that a mosque spokesman said:

“Everybody is welcome, as long as they behave according to Islam.”

Vallendar reports that they weren’t quite as welcoming and friendly as they seem.

“They asked me questions about my bra cup size, asked about my Adam’s apple, about my period and asked to see my birth certificate,” she said, and so returned home to pray there instead. “I hope people will change their attitudes and other people like me will realize they are free to just be themselves.”

Vallender, 28, says that she joined the TA in efforts to become more “manly.” Since leaving the army, she has found love via an online dating site and is married to a Muslim man as his second wife. A downside to Vallender’s remarkable story is that her husband, Murad, doesn’t know that she’s a transgender woman.

Though he did not know that she was trans at the time of their wedding, she commented, “he must have suspected it as he’s seen my scars.” She’s only seen him twice since the wedding, but spoke warmly about him, commenting, “I love him, he’s kind and soft spoken.”  (Huffington Post)

Hopefully he will be understanding when he learns that Lucy is a transgender woman and Lucy will finally be free to pursue the life of love and happiness that she — and everyone — deserves.

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 Tiffany Willis is the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America. Subscribe to her public updates on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or connect with her via LinkedIn.



Author: The Blue Route

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