The truth about the Squaddie who became a Muslim woman
As one soldier says:
Brilliant, if true. What will the Iman think about it? Sadly it seems you need to log into The Sun to read all the sordid details.Hopefully The Daily Mail will do it all again in the morning.
“What does mumsnet have to say about it”
Our issues with the story are:
* When does a civilian who joined the TA become a squaddie?
* Why is the Muslim angle delivered as tabloid shocker?
The Mail duly covers the story the next day:
A former trained soldier has swapped her Territorial Army beret for a veil and become Britain’s first transgender Muslim woman.
No. She had quit the TA well before becoming a Muslim. Lucy, now 28, joined in 2001. She was in the TA for a year. As Lucy says:
“Joining the TA was my final attempt at trying to fit in to that kind of life but I couldn’t handle it anymore and left after about a year… I was so nervous and at first I could hardly form the words, but I told him [her doctor] I wanted to be a woman and he said ‘ok’ – that was that.”
She then went back to work as a Ministry of Defence kitchen porter.
But “KITCHEN PORTER HAS SEX CHANGE!” lacks punch. So the story of the kitchen porter who became a woman waited a few years. Then Lucy investigated her spirituality:
“I had thought about it for a while but it is such a taboo I thought. But I did it because it is a nice religion – so peaceful. I felt good and I had something to believe in. I felt happy and relieved at last – the happiest I’ve ever felt in my life.”
Months later, she met and married Murad online.
“I didn’t tell him I was transsexual but he must have suspected it as he’s seen my scars.”
Apparently, they have met twice since the happy day.
And then the Mail gets to its point:
But she has run into trouble with her local mosque in Swindon, Wiltshire, as they would not let her pray with the other women. Miss Vallender says she has been victimised by worhippers, who she says have asked her personal, and banned her because she is a transexual, and she wants to ‘get justice’ for transgender and Muslim people.
‘They say I am the first transgender Muslim but I bet there are more – they are just frightened,’ she said.
‘The way they treated me was disgusting. 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. They said I had to pray with the men so I left and pray at home instead. I hope people will change their attitudes and other people like me will realise they are free to just be themselves.’
We appreciate Layla’s (Lucy) article detailing her struggles and challenges in life complicated with both the gender change and then conversion to Islam. It must have been tough for her to share this experience publicly and we admire her courage.
Layla joined our Islamic (Tajweed) ladies class at the end of last year as she wanted to learn Arabic. She did not know any Arabic when she joined our school but over the months made brilliant progress. She participated in class and was welcomed by all the women until her departure in June this year. We had no idea of gender reassignment. She did mention once that she was a hermaphrodite. Her deep voice was dismissed because she said her voice deepened due to shouting in the army.
Layla did not declare her change on the school submission form, we only learned of this when she wanted to get married, unfortunately she was not happy to submit her document such as passport or birth certificate required as per the process for the Islamic marriage (Nikah). Apparently Layla also had the same issue with other administrations, nevertheless we offered to help but she found the request offensive.
She took a very aggressive approach towards her teacher with intimidating sms and personal harassment after classes. We understood she had a similar issue with other institutes and previous employers. We had outlined the zero tolerance policy for abuse towards the volunteers and a formal consultation was conducted. The details of this consultation are recorded, however as we respect Layla’s privacy we would not like to divulge the personal issues addressed in the conversation. Needless to say that Layla had accepted her conduct and apologised to the volunteer teacher and had stated that she is moving to London for marriage and would most likely not return to the classes. The school had broken for summer and Ramadan break after which Layla didn’t return to the class.
Layla was not banned from the mosque or asked to join the man for prayers, we respect the rights of women and wouldn’t even consider such an action. On the contrary we had wished Layla all the success in her marriage and new beginnings with her move to London.
We at Swindon Mosque ( Masjid ) are proud to offer our services to not only the Muslim community, we also liaise with local authority, police community awareness programs, Swindon Children in Care team, charities such as Voice of young people in care and UWT, Swindon Health Walks, local schools and much more. During Ramadan we had several local non-Muslim (homeless) join us for the feast at sunset for breaking the fast.
If you require more information about the services we offer or have questions about the faith in general, feel free to visit the Mosque.
In other news, the Swindon Advertiser adds:
In 2011 Lucy, who is a keen gardener and can often be found growing red basil in her plot near her flat, moved into Swindon and started rekindling an interest in religion she has had since she was at school.
She considered Buddhism and Judaism before deciding to become Muslim. “I went to Oxford for the day and then I saw the stall,” she said, “That’s when I decided I wanted to be a Muslim.”
So. Her conversation has nothing to do with being in the TA.
When asked whether she had sent aggressive messages to her teacher, Lucy said she had only asked about why the mosque was asking about her breast cup size and whether she had periods.
She also said that a birth certificate or passport was not necessary for Islamic marriage, and the mosque was only requiring them to establish whether she was male or female.
Lucy has said she does have paperwork to prove she is now a woman, but was unable to show this to the Adver at the time of going to print.
A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “We can confirm that we have been looking into the welfare of this individual following concerns raised by a partner agency. The woman involved has been offered full support by Wiltshire Police throughout this process. At no stage has she been told that she will be arrested if she attends her local mosque. It would be inappropriate to comment any further.”
And her gender issues began early:
In 1998 when she was about 13, Lucy, who has special needs including dyslexia and attended a special school, came out to her parents and told them she wanted to have a sex change.
Such are the facts…