Publication date: January 2018
117% funded
515 backers
Cover of Trans Britain: Our Long Journey from the Shadows

A comprehensive account of the landmark events which shaped the transgender community over the last five decades, told through a series of essays by real experts who were there and can describe the knock-on effects today

'A comprehensive account of the milestone events which shaped the transgender community over the last five decades...'

That is what’s called an 'elevator pitch'. It describes in a nutshell what this unique book is about. But is that enough to tell you why this is a book you not only want to support, but give to all your friends?

Well, here’s the thing… Unless you are close to a transgender person then it’s quite understandable if you mistakenly imagine that all this 'trans' stuff is a recent fad. Suddenly, during the last few years, transgender people seemed to go from obscurity to ubiquity. They were on the television — trans people playing trans characters — in shows like Orange is the New Black, Eastenders, and Hollyoaks. They were on the catwalks in Paris and Milan as every designer’s must-have models. There were transgender candidates in the General Election. Transgender pundits on Question Time. In a real way, transgender was suddenly part of the zeitgeist.

But, this seemingly overnight occurrence was a long time in coming. It’s just that the way it happened was largely 'under the radar'.

Some academic historians and anthropologists will point out that transgender people have been around in all human societies since the dawn of history. They weren’t called that, and history hasn’t labelled them that way until very recently. But they were there. If Joan of Arc were alive today you might be asking what pronouns they preferred.

Yet, even in the swinging Sixties, the liberated Seventies and the shoulder padded Eighties, you would have been hard pressed to find very much about transgender people in the mainstream media. Clearly something happened between then and now. This book will be uncovering that through the words of the best experts: the people who were there as milestone events moulded an invisible community into the one with such powerful advocates today. Nobody is better placed to tell the story than this book’s hand-picked contributors. They include the transgender founders of early support and activist groups in the UK, an actress, a priest (OK, not a bishop), parents, teachers, academics, lobbyists, journalists, film makers, broadcasters PLUS long time allies from politics, unions and medicine. They’ve been carefully chosen to make this both an authoritative and rounded account.

This will be a book that’s not just for transgender people or their friends and supporters. It’s the book those people will recommend to others to play catch up on where we’ve been, and why things have come about in the way they have. It’s everything you ever wanted to know about where trans people came from, but never knew how to politely ask.

Christine Burns MBE campaigned for a quarter of a century for the civil rights of transgender people and has been involved with the community for more than 40 years. As an equalities consultant she also has more than a decade’s experience of how minorities progress from exclusion to inclusion. She was a leading figure in the trans rights campaign 'Press for Change' for 15 years, building trans community self-awareness, and working on new employment legislation and the Gender Recognition Act. She wrote the first ever official guidance about trans health for the Department of Health. She also led for some years on challenging negative reporting in the media. As an independent diversity specialist she chaired the North West Equality and Diversity Group for three years and helped countless organisations develop equality plans, including a five year stint as the Programme Manager for Equality, Inclusion and Human Rights at NHS North West. Her ebooks Making Equality Work and Pressing Matters (on trans activism in the UK) are both essential for practitioners interested in social policy development.
To develop this new book Christine is drawing on the sort of address book that takes decades to build up. Her contacts include people who were living the life of secrecy and exclusion which was the norm in the 1960s. She has interviewed people who experienced job discrimination. She knows the figures who ran support groups on a shoestring. And she had a role at the very heart of the campaign which emerged to roll back the barriers. This will be Christine’s seventh full length book, but the first with Unbound.

Why Document Trans History?

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

This project is about the history of trans people in the UK, but why is that important I hear you ask?

Here's a link to an article that I wrote for LGBT History Month (of which I'm a Patron) two years ago.

Welcome To My Shed (No Wellies Required)

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Img 1698

Hello and welcome to my shed!

… Well, my figurative shed anyway.

Some people actually write in sheds. It gets them away from the distractions at home — whether from the family, delivery drivers, or daytime TV and social media.

My shed is for gardening. It’s got a fancy electric leaf blower and a hedge trimmer which frankly terrifies me every time I have to get it out. If I get through…

Heather Peto
Heather Peto asked:

Will I be able to contribute to the history - I think there is hidden history that I have experienced. (PS: I was the transgender person featured in the BBC program called "All in the Mind in the 1990's and one of the legal pioneers at a Employment Tribunal

Christine Burns
Christine Burns replied:

Dear Heather, thank you for getting in touch. And it's a really good question. Although the main bulk of the new book will consist of chapters written by 25 different people (who've already been identified), there is plenty of opportunity for other people to be involved too. It's my intention to interview many other people (like yourself) with interesting recollections, so as to be able to pepper the book's layout with quotes that sit alongside what the main authors are saying. It is these interviews that will also provide the 'exclusive' and 'never heard before' element of the £100 audio archive pledge package. My hope is that these audio testimonies, alongside interviews that I've previously released, will be invaluable for social historians who want to research this area in more detail.

If you'd like to be involved with that then get in touch with me either via my Twitter profile @christineburns or on Facebook, where my ID is christine.burns.mbe . I'm also on LinkedIn.

My first priority is to get the 25 contributors into the position where they are writing their first drafts. That should happen in the next couple of weeks. Once that is underway I'll be following up all the interview offers, either face to face or via Skype.

- Christine

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