Stephen Whittle

Professor of Equalities Law

Manchester Metropolitan University

In 1975, aged 19, Stephen set up the UK’s first local trans support group in Manchester. The same year he transitioned to living as Stephen. In the 1970s and 80s he lost many jobs because of being trans. In 1985, he decided things would only change if trans people understood the law. He qualified in law in 1990 and in 1992, Stephen became a co-founder of Press For Change (PFC), the UK's transgender lobbying group. PFC fought cases at the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights to gain legal recognition for Trans people in the Gender Recognition Act 2004. In 2010, PFC also achieved full protection for trans people under the UK’s Equality Laws.

Stephen has been an advisor to the UK, Irish, Italian, Japanese and South African governments, the Council of Europe & the European Commission. He advises lawyers and regularly writes court briefs, or is an expert witness in courts across the world.  In 2015, he was appointed special advisor to the Parliamentary Women & Equalities Committee Inquiry into Transgender Equality.

Stephen has received many awards for his academic and voluntary work, including a Lambda Literary Award, from the Lambda Literary Foundation, as co-editor (with Susan Stryker) of “The Transgender Studies Reader” and in 2014, The Stonewall Award from the American Bar Association in recognition of his contribution to “removing barriers and championing diversity for the LGBT community, both within the legal profession and impacting the greater human universe.”  In 2005, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE, 2005) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for his work with the British Government on transgender rights. In 2016, he was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Stephen and his wife Sarah married in 2005 after Stephen gained legal recognition as a man, but have been partners for 39 years. They have 4 children by donor insemination; their eldest daughter has graduated and after teaching in China for a year, is entering the Civil Service Fast Stream. The others are currently at University.