Sadiq Khan says trans people shouldn’t be ‘simply tolerated’ but ‘respected and celebrated’

Sadiq Khan stands to a sign reading: 'London Labour'

London mayor Sadiq Khan has come out swinging for trans rights amid Boris Johnson’s repeated potshots against them.

On Saturday afternoon (9 April), the Labour politician joined local council candidates in Higham Hill, a suburb in the northeast borough of Waltham Forest.

He joined the likes of Kira Lewis, a 22-year-old who’s hoping to become Waltham Forest Council’s first trans/non-binary councillor.

“I have the privilege of representing the most diverse city in the world,” Khan said at Higham Hill Park for a campaign even with the grassroots campaign group Labour Doorstep.

“I know how heartbreaking it has been for many Londoners about how some politicians and many people in the media talk about the trans community.

“I’m quite clear that trans rights are human rights, and I’m also quite clear that here in London you’re free to be who you want to be.

“You’re not simply tolerated, you’re respected, you’re celebrated and you’re embraced. That’s going to be the case as long as I’m the mayor.”

Khan’s unwavering support comes against a troubling time to be trans in Britain today. Prime minister Johnson’s government has taken repeated aims at trans people’s already threadbare rights in recent weeks, coincidentally coming behind the government being rocked by scandal after scandal.

Following two dizzying U-turns, ministers walked back on a years-long campaign pledge to ban all forms of conversion therapy. While lawmakers will outlaw gay conversion therapy, trans people will not be covered.

Johnson then described trans rights as “novel” and something he has never really had to think about, before giving his unsolicited opinions on everything from trans women in sports and single-sex spaces. He also doubled down on his decision to bar trans people from the conversion therapy ban.

It came after health secretary Sajid Javid told Sky News that the government is “absolutely right” in banning conversion therapy “for LGB people”.

Javid, who again is the government’s top health official, said a “more sensitive approach” is needed to outlaw a practice compared to torture by human rights groups and medical groups.

“Is it a genuine case of gender identity dysphoria,” Javid said, “or could it be that that individual is suffering from some child sex abuse, for example, or could it be linked to bullying?”

Sadiq Khan ‘feels passionately about standing by marginalised communities’, says council hopeful

So for many, including Labour’s LGBT+ wing, Sadiq Khan‘s wholehearted support for trans rights was a breath of fresh air.

Even more so for Lewis, a candidate in Higham Hill, who told PinkNews that Khan captures what makes the capital a thriving place for LGBT+ people.

“It’s so important that we feel welcome in our city and I know Sadiq has done lots of fantastic work from community safety to supporting LGBT+ groups,” they said.

“I know he has fought to make sure that our access to services is not restricted at the whim of this Tory government that is whipping up anger towards transgender people to hide the realities of their cost of living crisis.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks to the media

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

“Sadiq told me how passionately he feels about standing by other marginalised communities and making sure that we can create a safer and welcoming London for all of us, transgender people included. That means so much!”

For Lewis, being elected councillor would ripple a sense of hope not only in Walathanstow but across Britain. Showing trans folk how important it is to live their truths proudly if they can.

“I know that for trans people in Waltham Forest – and wider London – having leaders who proudly stand by us, support us and listen to our needs is really important,” they explained.

“If I became Waltham Forest’s first openly trans councillor, I hope it would send a signal that our community here is proud of who we are. I hope it would show other transgender young people especially that positive change can happen.

“I want to change the toxic and negative political conversation around trans people, away from right-wing attack lines, to showing that transgender and non-binary people have so much to positively contribute to our communities.”