Green Party climate activist running to be first openly trans leader: ‘It’s time’

Tamsin Omond could be the first out trans leader of a major UK political party.

In a country that has never had an openly trans or non-binary MP, the Greens’ Tamsin Omond is running to be the first out trans leader of a UK political party.

Omond, a climate activist, author and communications specialist, is making their bid to be co-leader of the Green Party alongside Amelia Womack, the current deputy leader.

The pair, both 36, are promising an “intersectional, feminist, bold and visionary leadership” to Green members getting ready to vote in the leadership contest (voting opens on 2 September and anyone who is a Green Party member before 27 August can vote).

The leadership contest  was triggered by the resignation of former co-leader Siân Berry, who quit in July citing the party’s “failure” on trans rights.

Omond, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, told PinkNews that if Siân hadn’t stepped down, then they would not have stood. “I can quite confidently say that what the Green Party wants now is for its leadership to be anti-transphobic,” Omond says.

“What the country needs is a Green Party that is championing trans rights,” they continue. “That is standing firmly on the right side of history, and acting as a signpost towards a more inclusive future, a greener future, a future that includes the voices and solutions that are created within communities who are marginalised and oppressed – because we are the people who have lived impossible lives.”

Pointing towards Black feminists, trans people, disabled people and others who have “survived impossible conditions” as the groups that need to be looked to, Omond adds that they want to “create new ways of living together”.

“We need to rigorously create the kind of solidarity that will allow us to survive whatever the future brings,” they say. “That is the kind of knowledge and wisdom that I think the Green Party nationally could be platforming.”

Tamsin omond and Amelia Womack.

Tamsin (L) and Amelia Womack are running to be co-leaders of the Green Party. (Rob DesRoches)

Tamsin Omond on transphobia in the Green Party

Like Labour and the Tories, the Greens have had problems in recent years with a small number of vocal transphobes within the party attacking trans people and trans rights.

Siân Berry’s decision to step down came after Shahrar Ali, the party’s former deputy leader, was selected as the spokesperson for policing and domestic safety. Ali has been heavily criticised for backing a definition of women that excludes trans and intersex women and is known to be a transphobic dog whistle (Ali maintains he supports LGBT+ rights).

Against this backdrop, Tamsin Omond and Amelia Womack’s bid for the co-leadership already looked set to reveal whether party members would vote for pro-trans leadership. And then this week, Ali announced that he would also be running for leader.

Speaking before Ali made his announcement, Tamsin Omond told PinkNews that the Green Party “encourages leadership from trans people” (including from the likes of non-binary activist Tom Pashby, who campaigned to be the Greens’ deputy leader in 2020) and that transphobia within the party comes from “a small minority”.

“I wouldn’t be doing this if it were not a small minority,” Omond says. “If this were actually an endemic problem within the Green Party, there is no way I would put myself in this situation.

“The problem can be solved through platforming, advocacy, and creating structures within the Green Party that don’t allow unaccountability of hate speech essentially. That’s why I’m putting myself up for it,” they add.

Omond and Womack are running on a platform that promises to fight for a Green New Deal and a just transition, in the face of catastrophic climate crisis. They are billing their bid as being for a “Green party that wins” – pointing to their complementary experiences in Green leadership and grassroots climate activism.

The pair promise to challenge the Tories’ on their austerity policies and platform Green solutions to the climate emergency.

Moreover, Omond says that what they don’t want is for transphobia in the Greens to “fester”, as then the party will become “unsafe” for trans and non-binary people like them.

“I feel great and strong and robust in my community and in my body,” Omond says. “Siân [Berry] has pointed towards a problem that I was ignoring before.

“It’s time for us to step up and step in.”