Event Write Ups

A Conversation with Professor Stephen Whittle OBE

Hear how the story of Stephen's life, and the story of trans rights, intertwine in this conversation with the leading lawyer, campaigner, husband and father.

By MattHaworth · November 17, 2022

Stephen is Professor of Equalities Law in the School of Law at MMU. A multi-award winner, he co-founded Press for Change in 1992, and was president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) between 2007 and 2009.

Our discussion covered Stephen’s incredible life story, his perceptions on the progress to date and what we need to do next, and his advice for business leaders.

You can watch the whole event by clicking on the video above. The photo gallery is below.

Stephen Whittle | 17 November 2022

Flickr: Gallery – Stephen Whittle event November 2022

Stephen’s biography

Stephen transitioned from female to male in 1975. Having lost numerous jobs because of being transgender, he was working in the property development and building trade when in 1985 he decided to obtain legal training on the part time LLB evening course at Manchester Metropolitan University. He primarily wanted to challenge the discrimination he and other trans people experienced. He went on to obtain a Masters, and a PhD.

In 1992, Stephen co-founded Press for Change (PFC), the UK’s trans rights lobby group. PFC’s very successful campaigns have resulted in several major case law successes at the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights, which have led to significant legal changes since the mid-1990s, including the Gender Recognition Act 2004, and full protection under the Equality Act 2010.

Stephen has advised on transgender rights and law to the UK, Scottish, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Hong Kong, and South African governments, as well as the European Union & the Commission, and the Council of Europe. He regularly advises lawyers and writes briefs, or is an expert witness, for courts worldwide. He has authored many academic papers, non-academic articles, several books and writes a regular blog.

He recently co-created exhibitions on what it means to be trans. In 2013, he advised on, and wrote the historical timeline for Liverpool Museum’s exhibition Portrait of a Lady, the history of transsexual people in the UK told through the story of model, April Ashley.

He is married to Sarah – they’ve been together since 1979, and have four children.

Stephen’s honours include:

  • 2002 | Human Rights Award by the Civil Rights group Liberty, for his commitment and dedication to ensuring the advancement of rights for transsexual people through judicial means in the UK, Europe, and around the world
  • 2005 | OBE for ‘services to Gender Issues’
  • 2006 |Virginia Prince Lifetime Achievement Award by the USA’s International Federation for Gender Education