Billy Burleigh

This content was last updated Oct. 3, 2023, 8:30 p.m. UTC

Billy Burleigh is an anti-trans activist in Lompoc, California, known for having struggled with his gender identity for large periods of his life. His testimony has been used by conservative politicians to deny gender-affirming care to transgender minors in several states, despite Burleigh having chosen to seek care much later in his adult life. His story has also been featured in several documentaries used to stoke concern over rates of transition regret.

Legislative Testimony

Burleigh testified alongside Laura Smalts during a court case surrounding Arkansas Act 626, in which both cited their conversion to Christianity as one of the driving factors in their decision to cease affirming care. During cross-examination, ACLU lawyer Arun Bodapati asked “You don't believe God is ever OK with anybody ever transitioning, is that right?” to which Burleigh replied “That is true.”

Burleigh was invited to testify in support of Utah’s House Bill 92 by the Eagle Forum, a right-wing interest group that has historically fought against the Equal Rights Amendment. He stated his belief that minors are “not in a state to make such a huge decision for medical intervention,” despite having no experience with gender-affirming care until much later in his life.

Kentucky’s House Bill 470 received Burleigh’s support, along with fellow anti-trans activist Helena Kerschner, as part of a campaign in which Burleigh and others testified in several states.

During testimony for South Dakota’s Senate Bill 1080, Burleigh graphically described his experiences with surgery to cast doubt on gender-affirming medical procedures. He also provided support for Idaho’s House Bill 675. Both bills focused on restricting the availability of gender-affirming care for minors.

Early Life and Transition

Burleigh described his struggle with gender dysphoria, shared as testimony during a hearing in Arkansas, as thinking “God made [a] mistake, and that I was a girl.” He detailed struggling with dyslexia, a speech impediment, and instances of sexual abuse during his developmental years, culminating in seeking therapy at the age of 21. After five years of counseling, he decided to begin gender-affirming treatment, culminating in gender-affirming surgeries at age 38. Eventually, Burleigh decided to cease treatment, but married and underwent a full cycle of restarting gender-affirming care. He eventually ceased entirely following a conversion to Christianity.

Documentaries and Media Appearances

In 2018, Burleigh was one of three highlighted subjects in I Want My Sex Back, a documentary made by Russian state media that chronicled his struggle with gender identity.

Burleigh made an appearance in the 2022 documentary Dysconnected, alongside fellow anti-trans activists Walt Heyer, Maria Keffler, and others. The documentary has been the target of protest during at least one screening in Pennsylvania, which was supported and advertised by several local Catholic organizations. Dysconnected was directed by Donald J. Johnson, whose previous documentaries cover Catholic conversions and opposition to the availability of contraceptives on religious grounds.

In 2023, Burleigh was the focus of the student film Transformed, a documentary filmed with the intent to “be a warning cry to our society of the devastating and irreversible effects of transgenderism [sic].” Sources for the documentary include right-wing groups The Heritage Foundation and The American College of Pediatricians, among others.

Burleigh has appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight and Tonight Live with Dan Wootton, and his appearances in various forms of media have been highlighted by The Daily Wire.

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