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Jenn Burleton and transgender people

Jenn Burleton is an American musician and activist whose later work focuses on trans and gender diverse youth. Burleton is the program director for TransActive Gender Project.


Jennifer Eileen “Jenn” Burleton was born in November 1953 and grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Burleton’s parent Hugh “Eddie” Burleton (1914–1984) was also a musician. Jenn Burleton has a sibling Hugh, Jr. (born 1940).

After graduating from Milwaukee’s Washington High School in 1970, Burleton was involved with progressive musical organizations Sing Out and Up With People.

In 1983 Burleton married Cheryl Ann Noonan (born 1957). Burleton made a gender transition in the 1980s and began working in community activism.

In 2006 Burleton was involved in founding TransYouth Family Allies. Burleton soon left and founded TransActive Education and Advocacy in 2007. That organization later became affiliated with Lewis & Clark University.

2022 New York Times article

In 2022, Burleton was photographed and interviewed for a New York Times article on puberty blockers by Megan Twohey and Christina Jewett. The piece, titled “They Paused Puberty, but Is There a Cost?,” culminated in 2023 newsroom revolt against management during the Times’ anti-transgender coverage crisis of the 2020s.

The piece summarizes Burleton’s activism after attending endocrinologist Norman Spack’s presentation on puberty blockers at the 2006 Philadelphia Trans Health Conference.

Transgender activists across the country pushed for early and easy access to the treatment. At a 2006 Philadelphia medical convention, Jenn Burleton, an advocate from Oregon, heard Dr. Spack describe his experience starting to treat adolescents with blockers. Like others of her generation, Ms. Burleton, now 68, could not medically transition until adulthood, and puberty had been traumatic. Treating adolescents with blockers was “game-changing,” she said.
Back home, Ms. Burleton prodded pediatric endocrinologists to adopt the practice for their patients. “We have a chance to prevent them from being emotionally broken,” she recalled saying.

Shortly after the piece was published, Burleton said on Facebook:

I stand by my comments quoted in this article. The truth and evidence is out there, as are examples of objective journalism about transgender lives. Sadly, “out there” does not include the New York Times.


Johnson, Micheline (August 1989). IFGE Convention San Francisco, 1989 A Transsexual Viewpoint A Report with Comment. Twenty Minutes via The XX (Twenty) Club

Boyd, Helen (September 23, 2007) SoCo Keynote: Jenn Burleton. My Husband Betty

Rook, Erin (July 18, 2013). Hidden in plain view: A trans activist reflects on performing at MichFest. PQ Monthly

Kowalska, Monika (May 29, 2014). Interview with Jenn Burleton. The Heroines of My Life

Dolan, Ciara (February 28, 2019). The TransActive Gender Project Expands the Scope of Its Advocacy for Trans and Gender-Diverse Youth. Portland Mercury

Twohey, Megan; Jewett, Christina (November 14, 2022). They Paused Puberty, but Is There a Cost? New York Times [archive]

Rook, Erin (November 18, 2022). Reckless NY Times reporting fuels disinformation about trans youth. LGBTQ Nation


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