Ben Bradshaw, the MP for Exeter, said he hoped the UK Parliament would soon have a trans MP.
15 March 2022
A Labour MP who was abused for being gay when he was first elected nearly 25 years ago has said he sees parallels in the way trans people are treated today with the attacks he suffered.
Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, who is standing down at the next election, spoke of the vitriol he faced on the campaign trail in 1997 and revealed his godson is trans, as he said the community faced “such a lot of anger, and prejudice, and bias” on a daily basis.
Speaking to Gloria De Piero on GB News, Mr Bradshaw, 61, said when he was running for Parliament voters were told their children would be in danger if they elected him due to his sexuality, and after he won his opponent had said “Ben Bradshaw is a disease-ridden, sterile homosexual who works for the BBC, speaks German, rides a bicycle, is everything about our country that is wrong”.
“It sounds incredible now,” said Mr Bradshaw, who said young people could not believe it when he told them of the attacks.
“But in a funny kind of way, it helped me, because I think there was a kind of consensus – political consensus – particularly in some of the tabloid press and in the Tory party that the public wasn’t ready for gay equality.
“Actually, I think the public were ahead of where the politicians were, you know, we’d had gay characters in soaps for a while, most people knew somebody who was gay in their family or circle of friends.”
Mr Bradshaw added: “I see some of the tone and some of the language used about trans people, the misunderstandings, and they remind me of some of the stuff that went on in the 80s with gay and lesbian people.
“Some of the moves that we’re seeing now, for example, by the Government to try to discourage teachers and schools from discussing these issues or allowing children to discuss them in an open, and honest, and fair way.
“That does worry me, because, if anything, trans people are an even more set-upon minority than lesbian and gay people were back then. You know, no-one would choose to be trans necessarily, there are lots and lots of difficulties and problems you face in that situation.”
Mr Bradshaw told GB News his godson was trans and said: “She transitioned in her late teens. He is now a happy, well-balanced young man getting on with his life, and I just wish sometimes that people would come together and discuss these things with people who’ve got that lived experience.
“I think so much of the commentary we see is not based on lived experience, is not based on having listened to the people who are in that situation. I think if perhaps more people did, we’d have more tolerance and more mutual understanding.”
Mr Bradshaw said he hoped it would not be long before Britain had a trans MP.
“Quite a lot of other liberal democracies have had trans Members of Parliament and I hope that that’s something that will happen soon,” he said.
“I mean, I think the statistics probably mitigate against it, because we’re talking about really a very, very small proportion of the population, and it’s difficult enough, I think, for trans people just to get on with their lives, let alone going through the process of standing for Parliament.
“I think we’ve got trans people in local government, and I mean, hopefully in my lifetime, and maybe sooner than that, we’ll have a trans Member of Parliament, and I think we’ll see what happened when we had a lot of gay and lesbian people coming into Parliament in the 1990s; that suddenly the public discourse changed and we live in a completely different world now.”
The full interview will be broadcast at 12.35pm on Tuesday March 15 on GB News.