Earlier this week, I recorded an in-depth conversation over FaceTime with Claire Birkenshaw. Claire is recognised by the TES as the first Headteacher in the UK to transition gender while in post, and now works as an Equalities and Diversity Consultant with schools and other organisations nationwide. She is also one of the workshop leads for our forthcoming HeadStart Conference on Oct. 3rd, where she'll be leading a workshop on "Nurturing belonging cultures to support young trans and non-binary people".
In our wide-ranging conversation we explored and discussed topics and themes including:
- Claire's story from childhood to her adult decision to transition. We discuss the role of popular culture, and the reactions, both positive and negative, from friends, family and colleagues to her decision to transition.
- The role of the internet in both supporting, but potentially endangering, transgender youngsters
- How schools can support trans and gay youngsters in creating cultures, policies and processes that nurture and protect them; 'belonging' as an overarching principle in supporting transgender youngsters
- The importance of appropriate language, including the use of pronouns, when talking to transgender youngsters.
- Claire's thoughts on the current status of transgender people in the UK and internationally
You can listen to or download a podcast of the conversation using the player at the top of the page.
Huge thanks to Claire for talking to me. We hope that you find the conversation as engaging to listen to as we found it to record! Please leave any comments using the comment form at the bottom of this post; we'd love to hear from you.
Show notes and links
- You can follow Claire on Twitter at @TransAgender
- A news article from local press in Hull about Claire - 'Hull transgender teacher Claire Birkenshaw describes 'fear and guilt' before coming out' - Hull Daily Mail
- Claire talks to the TES (requires a TES subscription to read) - https://www.tes.com/news/tes-magazine/tes-magazine/transgender-head-offers-one-big-public-thank-you
- An article about Stephanie Hirst - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-33318304
- In the conversation, I reference the X2Y Youth Group in Wolverhampton, with whom we recorded previous conversations. You can listen to those here - http://www.headstartonline.co.uk/news/2017/5/9/gay-lesbian-or-transgender-young-people-tell-it-how-it-is-in-audio-interviews - and can watch an animation created from some of the recordings here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHZeAps8dvY
- X2Y Youth Group Wolverhampton website
- US bans transgender service people in the miltary - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41059503