Nikki Sinclaire, a trans role model? Not for me

Recently there have been a number of plaudits from trans people suggesting that Anti-Europe MEP Nikki Sinclaire should considered be a trans role model. I beg to differ.

Ironically, it was just as I was heading to a meeting in Brussels which resulted in the creation of “Rainbow Rose”, the European equivalent of LGBT Labour that will enable LGBT Labour to work with Socialist and Social Democratic parties in the rest of the EU that Nikki Sinclaire, anti-Europe MEP came out as trans. Just as LGBT Labour was committing itself to greater involvement in Europe for the benefit of LGBT people here and on the Continent, another trans woman was selling us the snake oil of complete withdrawal from Europe.

Nikki Sinclaire, a former member of UKIP, now an independent anti-Europe MEP came out as trans a few weeks ago, apparently after others threatened to out her as trans. However it is not for this reason that I consider her to be a bad role model for trans people; it is her politics; the policy to which her single-issue party subscribes; dumping the UK out of Europe. However there are four words which undermine her policy significantly; Nissan and Goldman Sachs.

Whatever we may think of these companies, both have warned that they are highly likely to leave the UK if the UK leaves the EU, and plenty of others will be thinking the same way. It is even distinctly possible that British Aerospace could move much of its production from Lancashire to Toulouse if we leave the EU, in order to maintain its share of Airbus production. Indeed some business estimates have suggested that the net result of a British exit from the EU would be a net loss of 2 million jobs countrywide, from the City of London to Strathclyde. It is also worth adding that, if we leave the EU, then most people employed in companies that leave the UK will be unable to move with them to their new bases in France, Germany, Spain, Holland or wherever because UK citizens will no longer have the right to live and work in Europe. These arguments are where the loony right of the Tory party, UKIP and others campaigning to leave the EU start to fudge their answers or change the subject.

Yet one of the main problems facing trans people in the UK, as it is everywhere, is always unemployment. If unemployment here rises by two million, trans people will be hit harder than most.

So this is why I believe Sinclaire should not be regarded as a role model for trans people. The main point of her involvement in politics – leaving the EU – is something that will greatly harm trans people and others. An increase in unemployment of two million would not merely harm trans people, although it would harm trans people most, it would harm millions of others. It is in this way that she should be judged, and it is here where her politics is not merely dangerous to trans people, it is dangerous to many others also.  

For some the idea of a peddler of naïve, pat, easy solutions, someone whose political existence is founded on a policy that will damage the interests of British trans people as well as others, is worthy of being considered a positive role model.  Personally I consider that to be a profoundly mistaken attitude, and one which ignores the dangers her simplistic, right-wing politics hold for all of us.

Yet I believe that considering Nikki Sinclaire to be a positive role model for trans people, just because she is trans, and ignoring the likely harm her politics will cause trans people, is, in its own way, transphobic.

Sinclaire did not go into politics as a trans woman, she went into politics because of what I believe are mistakenly held but seemingly deeply founded convictions about Europe. To consider her a role model for everything but that is to disrespect her as a human being involved in politics. Judging her on anything but her politics; the main reason she has become a public figure, represents an objectification that is, in my opinion dehumanising and dismisses her passionate beliefs as irrelevant.

In disagreeing with her, arguing against her being regarded as a positive role model and criticizing her because of her politics, I am also respecting her as a politician above being a trans person, I am not objectifying her as trans, I am respecting her politics enough to oppose them, and oppose them with at least as much passion as she espouses them. I profoundly believe that she is wrong, I believe her politics are simplistic, naïve and will harm large numbers of trans people and others. My disagreement with her is nothing to do with her being trans, it is everything to do with her politics.