Ayla (she/her) served in the RAF for thirteen years, did a ground tour in Iraq in 2008, and then spent seven years as a Sea King helicopter captain for the RAF's Search and Rescue Force, based in North Wales, North Devon and the Falkland Islands. She now flies helicopters for the National Police Air Service, supporting Police Forces across the UK. Ayla came out as transgender around 2010 and remained serving with her operational Search and Rescue unit throughout. The support and pragmatism of her colleagues and the wider armed forces made that transitional time not only possible, but empowering and successful. Ayla is the professional she is today, because she wasn’t forced to hide who she is.
Alongside her day-job, since 2012 Ayla has been an advisor and volunteer for All About Trans, a small charity with a big impact working to positively change how the media understands and portrays trans people. Ayla is also a proud patron for Mermaids, the UK's charity supporting gender-diverse kids, young people and their families since 1995.
In 2015 after taking part in a Stonewall Leadership Programme and delivering a Keynote speech at Stonewall's Workplace Conference, Ayla joined the Stonewall Trans Advisory Group, as Stonewall began its journey to being fully and proudly trans-inclusive.
In 2018, Ayla was portrayed in the critically acclaimed stage production ‘Still Point Turning’ by the Sydney Theatre Company and featured as one of many ‘RAF Stories’ at the RAF Museum, London. Ayla also flies Sea King helicopters again as a civilian since leaving the RAF, for the privately run Historic Helicopters - so you may see her and the team showing off and flying their restored aircraft at airshows around the UK.
She lives in a small village on a hill in Dorset with her wife, Wren (an ICU doctor), their four cats and numerous chickens. In November 2020, Wren and Ayla welcomed their newborn daughter, River, into the family.