In conversation with Claire Birkenshaw

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
I recognise that I hold a relatively unique position within society, as there are visibly very few trans teachers and even fewer trans school leaders. I am hoping that through my visibility and experience of transition coupled with my knowledge and links across the education community that I will be able to help make that difference for our young trans and non-binary people.
— Claire Birkenshaw

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

Don't forget to book your free tickets for the HeadStart Wolverhampton Conference on October 3rd, where Claire is leading a workshop titled "Nurturing belonging cultures to support young trans and non-binary people". It's going to be great event - we'd love to see you there:


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