Trans model accuses Tory government of ‘trans cleansing’ following brutal assault

Kai-Isaiah Jamal slams UK government for 'trans cleansing'.

Trans non-binary model Kai-Isaiah Jamal has slammed the UK’s Conservative government for its ongoing persecution of the trans community in a powerful new interview.

27-year-old creative and activist Jamal (who goes by they/them pronouns) has made waves in the fashion industry, featuring in major magazines such as Vogue, Elle and i-D.

Jamal made history as the first trans person to be nominated for the prestigious Model of the Year Award at the annual Fashion Awards at Royal Albert Hall on Monday (4 December) – an honour previously bestowed upon supermodels such as Kate Moss and Bella Hadid.

Jamal’s trailblazing modelling career comes at a time when the UK has been listed as “one of the worst places” to be trans, with hate crimes against the marginalised community on the rise.

In an interview with The Standard, Jamal accused the government of “trans cleansing” by diminishing trans people’s existence and reflected on their own experiences of abuse as a trans person living in the UK.

“I don’t think people realise what it’s like to exist where there is so much hatred coming at you from every angle,” they told the publication. “I’ve had split lips and cracked ribs. I’ve had people spit on me, I’ve had people out me, I’ve had people call me every name.”

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During the Conservative party conference in October, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak fuelled anti-trans hatred after a speech in which he said: “A man is a man, and a woman is a woman, that’s just common sense.”

For Jamal, this is exactly the problem. “When Rishi [Sunak] stands on a stage, in a time that is already very harmful for trans people, and says we do not exist, it’s dangerous,” they explained.

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Jamal admitted they don’t feel safe going “from A to B” while presenting as a trans person.

“No one is ready to call this trans cleansing,” they added. “But that’s cleansing. Either we lay down and let them win — or we fight back and take up space.”

They hope their visibility as a trans person in the modelling industry can serve as a “visions of who we could be” for young trans people, with their social media presence providing a source of hope and inspiration for trans youth across the country.

“Sometimes you get a message from a kid that says: ‘me and my Mum looked through your Instagram, and it made her understand about me’. This is what I care for,” they concluded.

“All the awards in the world could never add up to one kid not being left outside in the dark and cold.”

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