Newly elected transgender councillors will ‘help to widen public understanding’

Councillor Dylan Tippetts. Credit: PA

The successes of a number of transgender councillors during the UK’s local elections will help “widen public understanding of what it is to be trans” according to LGBT+ charity Stonewall.

Labour and the Scottish Greens saw trans candidates voted in as councillors after voters went to the polls on Thursday.

Kira Lewis (Labour), Dylan Tippetts (Labour) and Elaine Gallagher (Scottish Greens) all found out that they had become councillors after Thursday’s vote.

Mx Lewis, who was elected in Higham Hill, Waltham Forest, London, told the PA news agency: “In a difficult time for transgender and gender non-conforming people nationally, I am proud that locally people have placed trust in me as their new Councillor.

“It is important that our community is not just accepted but welcomed into such positions and I’m pleased to have been so supported by other candidates, the Mayor of London and the LGBTQ+ community in my ward.

“I want to work hard and show that transgender and gender non-conforming people can be proud of who we are and effective representatives in local government.”

Stonewall said it believed there were at least six current or previous trans councillors as well as the three who were elected this week.

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“Polling repeatedly shows that the majority of people in Britain support trans people, and this has been reflected in an election day that saw three openly trans and non-binary councillors elected by the public,” said Sasha Misra, associate director of communications and campaigns at Stonewall.

“Trans people have always been underrepresented in positions of seniority in society, and many often only read about their lives and experiences through the lens of media scaremongering.

“This representation can only help to widen public understanding of what it is to be trans.”

Mr Tippetts, meanwhile, said he hopes his election as Labour’s first councillor in Plymouth’s Compton Ward will “dial down hate and division”.

Dylan Tippetts hopes his election will ‘dial down hate and division’ after becoming Plymouth’s first openly trans councillor. Credit: Dylan Tippetts/PA

The 21-year-old told PA he was “still in shock” adding: “I didn’t think I was going to win the seat last night.

“If I can help someone realise that trans people are just normal human beings like everyone else, with the same hopes and dreams, (and) just help dial down some of the real hate and division at the moment, that would be incredible.

“It would be even more of an honour to show a young person who might be scared of coming out that everything’s going to be OK and everything that they want in life can come true.”

And Elaine Gallagher, Glasgow’s first trans councillor, said she hopes her election will demonstrate that transgender people are “not a threat”.

She said she was “absolutely delighted” at having been elected as a councillor for the Scottish Greens in the Southside Central ward, but said she felt “a little bit apprehensive”.

“I have put my head above the parapet and I’m going to be a target,” she told PA.

She said that she had recently discussed the issue of abuse towards women in politics with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and voiced her fears of what that could be like as a trans woman.