The trailblazing pilot who got here out as transgender at 58
(CNN) – Cat Burton was fascinated by the plane, an interest inspired by his pilot’s father, who flew in with the Royal Canadian Air Force and later flew to Wales of Cambrian Airways.
Cambrian, a subsidiary of British Airways, later assisted Welsh-born Burton to learn to fly in 1971.
Soon, Burton was a qualified pilot, pilot of Vickers Viscount flights across the UK.
When British Airways took over the Cambrian in 1974, Burton began a long career with a 40-year-old UK flag carrier.
“I boarded all kinds of Boeings with British Airways: 737s, 747s, 757s, 777s and retired in 2017, as captain,” Burton told CNN Travel.
His favorite plane? A 747. There is a reason, he says, for which reason he is called the “Queen of Heaven.”
“I had the opportunity to be the first to be a pilot of the 747-400 pilot, at British Airways. I fell in love with the airline, everything about this.”
When Burton retired, 65, he was Britain’s largest airline pilot.
The final years of his BA career were very proud. She started going to school to encourage young women to consider traveling and pursuing science, technical and mathematical (STEM) studies. He was working with various British Airways crews. She was a STEM director at the British Women Pilots’ Association.
And Burton was finally flying like himself. At 58, he came out as a trans.
“My change came too late,” says Burton. “Air travel in the ’70s was probably considered a passenger job. It was one of the tasks that one salesman could hide, not all over the world, but often from himself.”
Burton says he “kept” his name as a teenager. Burton did not turn 50, when he was appointed by the Civil Aviation Authority for a number of months due to a heart condition, which Burton recalled.
He made up his mind that when he returned to work, it would be Cat who came back.
“Coming out is one of those things that can’t be fixed, you can’t go back,” Burton says. “I always liken it to going down a rock in thick darkness.”
British Airways, in Burton’s words, was “an excellent example.” The plane, says Burton, not only helping him, was proud of him.
But they still did not know what their peers would do. You would never know, they say, even if your ex-friends answered when you left.
But the rock from which he came “was only two inches long.”
“People use the word courage, but they are not brave. Getting out of that situation is lifesaving. With or without life,” Burton says. “So there was no courage going on. But, nevertheless, it was a dark step.”
Cat Burton trains young pilots at Eros Flight Training in Cardiff, Wales.
Courtesy Cat Burton
When Burton returned to work as Cat, British Airways sent a link to the pilots on their list. Burton thought of his transformation, writing openly and publishing on the board of British Airways.
“Within a week, the post received 2,000 responses and 10,000 views,” Burton said. “Most of it was helpful. Some of it was very helpful, it made me cry.”
There were, “he says,” many good banter “from their peers, but his jokes were good.
“You can tell the difference between someone who laughs at you and who laughs at you,” she says.
After Burton made the UK newspaper The Independent on Sunday in the 2014 Rainbow List, a series of well-known LGBTQ + Brits, a group of British Airways journalists shared their condolences on Twitter and Burton’s story became public.
“They are not brave. Getting out of that situation is lifesaving. Where there is no life ”
Cat Burton, pilot
A few years later and after his retirement, Burton continues to inspire young people through his pilot training at Eros Flight Training in Cardiff. His days he can do anything from pilot training to pilot fitness.
And he continues his STEM career by visiting schools, along with other spreads related to airline diversity.
“Piloting was not just a job for boys, it was always a job for gay men or lesbians,” says Burton. Cisgender refers to a person who is known to be female and female who is given at birth.
“It didn’t take long for the final job to change for another woman to change.”
Burton remembers a colleague who changed working as a British pilot in the late 1980s.
“I think, for three months, he was bullied at work by his colleagues who just didn’t want to go with him,” Burton says.
Times have changed, however, and the Equality Act of 2010 in the UK now protects discrimination in the workplace.
“All the aircraft I know now have a transgender pilot, who has changed jobs, or has registered a transgender pilot since then,” says Burton.
But steps are still being taken, says Burton.
“It’s been a weapon with the people who would like to see the extremists leave,” Burton said. “They see transgender people as a problem. When we have only a fraction of the population. We are the only ones.”
On the last flight of Burton and British Airways before retiring, his plane received a water salute at Punta Kana in the Dominican Republic.
Courtesy Cat Burton
Burton, who heads a charity group set up by Cardiff Race Equality First, also mentions the problem of airline inequality.
“There is every reason to work towards achieving diversity based on the type of people who are boarding a plane as is the case with the issue of gender in the flight,” he says.
Burton cites the problems associated with the high cost of pilot education as a barrier to entry – as well as advocates for action and baskets such as answers, and standing.
She also admits that working in white-owned, male-dominated companies is not always easy for female and minority pilots.
“I think I have a unique style of appearance for men and women at the airport,” says Burton.
“I always feel like I’m on the side of my young female friends, while I’m doing my old job. And when I look back, with my new eyes, if you will, my new thoughts, what? Honestly I’m not a helper, I’m just a parent. And I didn’t realize it. I didn’t realize it, but now I know. “
Working with various British Airways crews, Burton says the airline “had a large number of girls who complained about the behavior of older – especially older – pilots, to them on board.”
His goal, he said, was always to get pilots to think that, even though their systems might be well-intentioned, it just seemed to encourage them.
But Burton says young pilots are open-minded, and he hopes the news will be a thing of the past as the number of pilots grows.
Notes and equipment
Burton is proud to be a trans trans. But they also take pride in being a skilled pilot.
When he talks about his life, he is showing that all people are made of different things – and no one is better than the others.
“My writing is cat, I am happy to accept this as a symbol, and the other name is human.
Everything else includes: woman, transgender profile, pilot, expert, British Airways captain, flight instructor. All of these things make up a Cat. “