Christine Burns (Order of the British Empire) (born 1954) is a British political activist best known for her work with Press for Change.[1] Burns was awarded an MBE in 2004 in recognition of work representing transgender people.[2]


Burns was born in the London Borough of Redbridge and attended University of Manchester, earning an undergraduate degree in computer science in 1975 and a master’s degree in 1977. She worked as a city information technology consultant and a Tory activist before coming out about her trans history.[3] When Burns came out to local Tory leaderhip in 1994, the tabloids decided not to run the story because she was "too ordinary".[4] She jokes about how she became involved in trans activism: "I realised something had changed in 1997, when I realised it was more embarrassing to admit to being a conservative than to being a trans woman."[5]

Burns had joined Press for Change before coming out and was a leading figure in getting legal recognition for trans people.[6] Burns has criticized mental health practitioners for bias against trans people. She has asserted that some psychiatrists refer for surgery only those patients whom they consider attractive,[7] and was an early critic of the controversial 2003 book The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey,[8] She has also criticized research claiming that trans people are less happy after transition.[9] Burns has advocated for better media depiction of trans people, including Hayley Cropper on Coronation Street[2] and Nadia Almada on Big Brother.[10][11] She has also advocated on behalf of trans youth and their families seeking medical intervention as minors.[12]

She was among the first to gain a certificate recognizing her gender under the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which she had pushed for passage.[13] Burns said, "For most it's been a profoundly personal thing - not something to shout about, but a piece of paper to hold, to have a little cry, and feel closure at last." [14] Burns was honored with an MBE the same year as Stephen Whittle for their efforts on behalf of trans people.[15] Her efforts were also lauded by Member of Parliament, Gerald Kaufman.[16]

Burns chaired the first Department of Health working group on trans issues from July 2006 and was appointed as an advisor to the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advisory Group (SOGIAG).[17] Burns left Press for Change in November 2007 to focus on strategic issues with public officials.

Selected publications

  • Burns, Christine (1999). If That's Your Idea of Non-Discrimination. In Tracie O' Keefe (ed.) Sex, Gender and Sexuality: 21st Century Transformations. Extraodinary People Press, ISBN 0952948222
  • Burns, Christine (2003). The Second Transition. In Tracie O' Keefe and Katrina Fox (eds.) Finding the Real Me: True Tales of Sex and Gender Diversity. Wiley, ISBN 0787965472


  1. Batty, David (July 31, 2004). Mistaken identity. The Guardian
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ottewell, David (December 31, 2004). Sykes and Waterman celebrate awards Manchester Evening News
  3. Staff report (November 8, 1998). Sex-change sergeant-major who is facing expulsion from army. Sunday Mercury
  4. Woolf, Marie (November 26, 2003). He ain't heavy, he's my sister. The Independent
  5. Burns, Christine (July 10, 2008). A Life in a Day Part Three: And then we had ‘T’. Just Plain Sense
  6. Dyer, Clare (December 10, 2002). Sex change victory after 30 years. The Guardian
  7. Hari, Johann (September, 2004). Gender Studies. Attitude
  8. Staff report (June 25, 2003). Trans Group Attacks New Book on 'Queens.' Windy City Times
  9. Burns, Christine (August 3, 2004). A change for the better. The Guardian
  10. Hogan, Dek and Christine Burns (September 2006).Nadia's Conundrum. Digital Spy
  11. Burns, Christine (August 9, 2004). Transforming attitudes. The Guardian
  12. BBC (January 28, 2007). How young is too young for a 'sex change'? BBC World Service
  13. Woolf, Marie (November 24, 2003). Queen's Speech will give go-ahead to sex-change weddings and adoptions. The Independent
  14. Marie Woolf (April 9, 2006). Transsexual UK The Independent
  15. Staff report (December 31, 2004). Eric Sykes gets New Year's honour. BBC News
  16. Kaufman, Gerald (March 5, 2005). It's a scandal ... The Guardian
  17. Department of Health (September 3, 2008). Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advisory Group

External links