UK’s newly-elected trans councillors want to prove ‘trans people can achieve great things’
There were scenes of jubilation in London and Plymouth on Friday as two trans people were elected as Labour councillors.
Kira Lewis, 22, was elected in the Higham Hill ward of London, while Dylan Tippetts, 21, won a seat in Plymouth’s Compton ward – a Tory stronghold that has never elected a Labour councillor before.
Both candidates benefited from the dip in support for the Conservative Party, which won just 30 per cent of all votes compared to Labour’s 35 per cent, according to the BBC’s projected national share calculator.
Speaking to PinkNews shortly after their election win, Lewis said their ward has “struggled” under the Tory government.
“We’ve had a huge amount of cuts from the Tory government, we have a massive amount of kids growing up in poverty. Labour having a hold in London means we can push back on the cost of living crisis and making sure that families feel supported.”
Lewis has a number of priorities for their time as a councillor, one of which is to get young people engaged with democracy.
“Young people want to take part but don’t necessarily know their rights. When young people do get engaged, they stay engaged.”
They’re also fully aware just how significant it is that they’ve been elected as an openly trans Labour Party candidate.
I just know that me five years ago would have not believed this was possible at all, that I could be open and proud and be able to achieve this.
“We don’t have a lot of representation, so I know that there’s an onus on those of us who do get elected to make sure we’re really loud and proud about who we are and show that we can be an amazing councillor, but also that trans people can achieve great things. We’re very proud to be trans and non-binary, but we’re also so much more than that.”
They continued: “I just know that me five years ago would have not believed this was possible at all, that I could be open and proud and be able to achieve this. I never thought that would be something I could do – it was one or the other for a long time in my head.”
Trans Labour councillor Dylan Tippetts says people of Plymouth feel ‘ignored’ by the Tories
Dylan Tippetts told PinkNews that he was still in “shock” after he won a seat in the Compton ward. His victory makes him not only the ward’s first-ever out trans councillor, but also the ward’s first-ever Labour councillor.
“I’m in shock because I didn’t think I was going to win the seat yesterday, I didn’t think we had quite done enough to take down a 600 vote Conservative majority. So to actually take the seat and win, it’s just such an honour and a privilege, and I’m ready to get started.”
Tippetts believes the people of the Compton ward elected him because they’ve been feeling “ignored”.
“A lot of people have been feeling ignored and taken for granted for a long period of time and with the backdrop of partygate and the cost of living crisis, a lot of residents wanted a fresh start and new ideas.
“They also know that Plymouth Labour are on their side. In February, we managed to freeze council tax at the budget meeting, keeping families’ hard-earned pennies in their own pockets. At a time when energy bills are rising sky high, it’s things like that that really matter, and that’s what the people of Compton voted for.”
— Sam Blackledge (@samblackledge) May 6, 2022
Tippetts is hoping he’ll be able to help tackle the cost of living crisis and ease the burden on families in Plymouth in his new role as city councillor.
“This crisis is not going away unfortunately and we need to do more to make sure we’re supporting hard working people who are facing difficult decisions that they should never, ever have to make.”
He also wants to tackle violence against women and girls in the city.
“I know that’s a big concern for residents in the Compton ward – it’s not OK that people don’t feel safe walking down the street.”
We’re not trying to take away from anyone else, we just want to be part of the community.
Tippetts is also eager to show the public that trans people share the same goals and aspirations as everybody else.
“There’s some big names, and the media as well, who have been vilifying trans people. They can seem like these scary people, but we are quite normal people with quite boring lives… we have normal lives, we do boring things. We do the dishes, we take the bins out, we go to work, and we just happen to be trans at the same time.
“It’s so, so important for people to see that we aren’t this picture that some corners of the internet and the media and big names paint us to be – we’re just human beings. We’re not trying to take away from anyone else, we just want to be part of the community.”