Sarah Jane Baker supporters blame ‘political game-playing’ for arrest as trial begins

Trans activist Sarah Jane Baker, wearing a red cap and pink and blue scarf, holds a dog on her shoulder and raises her fist in solidarity with trans rights.

Activists campaigning for the release of detained trans woman Sarah Jane Baker have blamed “political game-playing” for her imprisonment.

Members of the Free Sarah Jane Baker campaign told PinkNews that they believe trans activist’s imprisonment to be about “hounding and demonising trans people” ahead of her trial date beginning on Thursday (31 August).

The 53-year-old was recalled to prison after being charged on suspicion of incitement to violence for a speech she made at London Trans+ Pride in July where she said: “If you see a TERF [trans-exclusionary radical feminist], punch them in the f**king face.”

Baker was released on parole in 2019 after serving 30 years of a life sentence for kidnapping and torturing her stepmother’s brother in the late 1980s and later attempting to murder a child rapist while in prison.

Due to the nature of her parole, Baker was recalled to serve the remainder of a life sentence pending the result of her trial. She has been recalled to a male prison despite being a trans woman.

Activists with the Free Sarah Jane Baker campaign said they did not believe Baker deserve to be under constant threat of abuse and rape from male prisoners – which have been a constant issue while she has been imprisoned – for what they described as a “single off-the-cuff remark”.

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“Right now, a vulnerable woman – who has spent decades behind bars and hasn’t been violent to anyone since her release – is being told that, in theory, she could spend the rest of her life in a male prison.

“Her supposed crime is a few misjudged words, spoken in the heat of the moment at a protest, which she immediately said she regretted.”

‘Daily Mail headlines’

Campaigners added that the arrest “isn’t about protecting the public” and believe it is representative of the political and media stigmatisation of trans people.

Home secretary Suella Braverman thanked the Met Police for reinvestigating the Trans+ Pride “incident” after they initially dropped the case, with officers originally stating the call for violence was “hypothetical”.

But after Baker was arrested following the reopening of the investigation, Braverman said: “I’m sure the police will consider the evidence carefully.”

Campaigners claimed: “This case is a litmus test for whether politicians are allowed to send people to prison. It is only happening because of political interference by a hard-right home secretary.

“Political game-playing and Daily Mail headlines cannot be allowed to determine what happens in the judicial system.

“She must be released immediately.”

Sarah Jane Baker is due to appear in The City of London Magistrates Court on Thursday (31 August) where her trial will begin. Campaigners have vowed to protest outside of the building during the trial.