The US LGBT Bar Association announced this week that the 2012 Frank Kameny Award was been given to Prof. Stephen Whittle, OBE, Ph.D.
Stephen Whittle is a Professor of Equalities Law at Manchester Metropolitan University where he has taught for almost 20 years. He transitioned from female to male in 1975 at age 19 and began decades of activism on behalf of the transgender community. Prof. Whittle set up the Manchester TV/TS group, the first local and mixed trans group in England. He also co-founded Press For Change, the UK’s transgender lobbying group which fought numerous cases through the national and European Courts. In 2005, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list. He has also received the Sylvia Rivera Award in 2002 for ‘Respect and Equality: Transsexual and Transgender Rights.’ The Frank Kameny Award is presented to a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community who has paved the way for important legal victories. The recipient need not be an attorney. The award was created to honor the memory of Frank Kameny, a tireless advocate for the LGBT community and the only recipient of the LGBT Bar’s Dan Bradley Award who did not have a law degree.
Before there were lawyers representing LGBT clients, there was Frank Kameny. Kameny submitted the first gay rights legal brief to the Supreme Court in 1961, demanding legal recognition for gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals. He tirelessly petitioned on behalf of the gay community, using the law to his advantage despite having no formal training in the field. Stephen Whittle followed in Kameny’s footsteps, tirelessly working on behalf of the transgender community. Prof. Whittle adopted Frank Kameny and the Mattachine Society as his unnamed heroes when he was just 14 years old. He began corresponding with experts on the LGBT community, including Kameny, renting a post office box and sending plain, brown envelopes from the UK to America to further his education. Prof. Whittle was shaped by his early correspondence with Kameny, becoming an advocate for transgender equality and the leader of a worldwide community.
Prof. Whittle has used the court of law to file amicus briefs and lobby for transgender rights. He stood before the European Court of Human Rights in 1996, demanding to be recognized as the father of his two children. Like Kameny before him, Prof. Whittle has remained undaunted and continued his fight for equality no matter the obstacles that stood in his way. The National LGBT Bar Association is proud to present Stephen Whittle with the Frank Kameny Award in recognition of his unprecedented advances for the transgender community.
The award will be presented on August 24th at the ever-excellent Annual Lavender Law Conference, which this year is being held in Washington DC. Congratulations Stephen – a very well deserved award.