Transgender community over the last five decades by Christine Burns
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 five 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’d 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 this story than this book’s hand-picked contributors. They include the transgender founders of the very first support and activist groups in the UK, a one-time fashion model, an actress, a priest (OK, not a bishop), parents, teachers, academics, lobbyists, journalists, film makers, broadcasters PLUS long time allies from politics, the justice system, 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.
"I approached Unbound because their pioneering publishing model means we can write exactly the book we all want to write. We’ve seen our whole lives what happens with projects where non-trans people hold the strings.
"But of course first the book needs to be funded. With Unbound, readers choose which books get written and published by pledging support. If we reach the funding target, then production can begin and the book will appear a few months later. In return for supporting this book you’ll get different levels of reward, from your name in the back of the book, to a unique trove of recordings, and much more.
"There will also be regular updates from my ‘shed’ on the Unbound website about my progress writing it, and about the whole production process. I’m intending to include snippets of copy too, but you’ll only see any of this if you’ve pledged your support."
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.
To contact Christine via Facebook
To contact Christine via TwitterRead More