Exclusive: Trans Lib Dem candidate called ‘disgusting’ in barrage of Twitter abuse

A transgender electoral candidate has shared the “horrendous” insults she faced just an hour after a pro-LGBT Twitter account posted its support of her in Thursday’s local elections.

In 2010, Sarah Brown was voted as the only openly-trans politician elected to serve in the UK when she was named Cambridge City Councillor for Petersfield. She served as councillor until 2014, but is now looking to get re-elected.

But after recent scrutiny of transgender people in Britain in the press and social media, Brown said that she has faced “relentless” abuse during her election campaign this year.

One example is tweets directed at Brown on Thursday after the LGBT+ Lib Dems Twitter account posted a message of support for her today.

“Every year, my partner, Zoë O’Connell does a list of out trans people standing for election,” Brown told PinkNews. “Recently there’s been a relentless media attack on trans people and I said I didn’t want to be on the list, and I wasn’t the only one, so she postponed the list until after the election,” Brown told PinkNews.

“But we in LGBT+ Lib Dems thought we’d do this thing where we tweeted out support for our out LGBT+ candidates every 10 minutes today. I asked to be near the end of the list, again because I feared what would happen,” she explained.

“And it did. It’s been an hour or so and already a dozen people are tweeting abuse at me.”

On Thursday, after the tweet went out, Brown received abuse including being called a “disgusting homophobic shit,” told that “males can’t be lesbians” and misgendered with trolls finding an “unflattering” picture to taunt her with from 2015.

“One tweeted an unflattering pic of me from 2015 that hasn’t been online since then, so I have no idea how she found it and am actually a bit creeped out by that,” the electoral hopeful told PinkNews.


Brown said that she finds the “level of abuse horrendous.”

The increasing threat to trans people in the public sphere also “makes campaigning difficult,” says the politician.

“I expected this to happen, so I’m holding up alright, but I can see how it really puts trans people off standing for election. The level of abuse is horrendous, and some of the things they say … these aren’t people behaving like they’ve got a genuine point. Their aim seems to be as unpleasant as they can manage.”

Brown also says that trans people have to go an extra mile to ensure that they are safe during the election period.

“I use a private Twitter account to limit the abuse I get. It’s made online campaigning difficult,” she told PinkNews.

“I have my notification settings extremely restricted. It means I miss some genuine stuff, but what else can you do?”


Brown was ranked as the 27th most influential LGBT person in the UK in 2013 on the Independent on Sunday’s Pink List.