Transgender councillor praises ‘important spaces’ hosting inclusive events

A transgender councillor has spoken out about how “important” a borough’s new trans-inclusive social events are. 

Isla Wrathmell, 39, is a Lambeth Labour councillor for Vauxhall, and a transgender woman, who has helped introduce the programme of free social events, activities and workshops for transgendered individuals across the borough. 

She said: “I think it’s fantastic and I haven’t seen anything else like it across the capital.”

The project was set up by Lambeth council – with partners LGBT HERO and Trans Matters Worldwide – after a survey in 2022 found that Lambeth’s LGBTQ+ community wanted to have better and more inclusive access to spaces that offer sporting and cultural activities.

Ms Wrathmell said: “LGBTQ+ people wanted better and more inclusive access to events, not just bars.

“I think it’s especially important to create spaces for transgender people because a lot of the LGBTQ+ scene is only catered to gay people.”

The programme of events includes art workshops, games of pool, hiking excursions, book clubs and other social events (Picture: Lambeth council)

Launched in July 2023, and running until March 2024, the programme of events includes art workshops, games of pool, hiking excursions, book clubs and other social events all in Lambeth and designed to be inclusive and safe.

Ms Wrathmell said: “Trans people need to be able to do normal social things. I think people’s attitudes to transgender people are better in London than many other places in the country.

“But there is a lot in the media that is difficult to deal with.”

Three weeks ago, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “a man is a man and a woman is a woman” to a round of applause in his closing speech at the Conservative Party Conference.

Ms Wrathmell said: “The narratives around trans people in the media feed into the fear of living our lives as we go out and about.

“It’s different for everyone but for some trans people the level of fear is more difficult to cope with. This all needs to be dealt with.”

Ms Wrathmell transitioned in her early 30s. She joined the Labour Party in 2010 but has taken part in various forms of activism for many years.

She said: “As I came to terms with my identity as a transgender woman it spurred me to get into politics. 

“Trans people are often talked about but don’t get asked about how they feel and think. Not in their own voices anyway. I wanted to be that voice in the room.”

The project’s next event is a brunch meet-up in Streatham on Saturday. Details and tickets can be found on the events app, Eventbrite.

Ray Lavery, founder of Trans Matters Worldwide, said: “It is truly amazing to see the support that the council and LGBT Hero are trialling for such a marginalised group, who are often overlooked. 

“Regardless of much negative press coverage of trans issues, it is absolutely fantastic to see support for trans people being made available locally. Projects like this are a great example of what is really going on. We are very grateful to Lambeth council for supporting it.”

Pictured top: Isla Wrathmell, a Lambeth Labour councillor for Vauxhall who has helped introduce the new inclusive socials (Picture: Isla Wrathmell)

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