Sophie Cook & Jeremy Corbyn

Former RAF Engineer In Bid To Become Britain's First Transgender MP

A former RAF engineer is bidding to become Britain's first transgender MP...

Sophie Cook & Jeremy Corbyn

A former RAF engineer is bidding to become Britain's first transgender MP.

Sophie Cook, 49, who was born as 'Steve', is to stand for Labour in June's general election in East Worthing and Shoreham, which has been held by Conservative MP Tim Loughton since its creation in 1997.

The equality campaigner, who works as Bournemouth Football Club's photographer, decided to become a woman in June 2015 because she could no longer 'live a lie'. She's quoted as saying in the Mirror:

"I was in the RAF in the 1980s and I always wanted to go into politics back then but there's no way I could've done it."

She added: "I was living the life I had to live at that point in time to survive.

"The whole society was very biased against trans people in the past. We didn't have positive LGBT role models and we certainly didn't have positive trans models."

Ms Cook followed in her family's footsteps at 16 by joining the RAF as an engine technician for Tornado fighter jets.

Based in West Germany until 1991, when she moved to Saudi Arabia for a job, her nickname in the RAF was 'Cookie' - after the Cookie Monster.

She has since had a tattoo of the cartoon character on her arm transformed into rainbow colours with a pair of butterfly wings.

She's quoted in the Daily Mail as saying the Bournemouth players' reaction to her transition, which also saw her shed five stone and 12 inches off her waist, was 'amazing'.

Sophie Cook

She said: "Living with the burden any longer would have killed me, so it was time to be true to myself. I couldn't keep living in the shadows. I had to tell the guys at Bournemouth.

"I was living in Brighton and had hair extensions.

"It wasn't as if I could go back to Bournemouth, take my wig off and pretend I was still Steve. I was Sophie."

"The assistant manager called the players together and said:

"'You'll probably notice our photographer has changed a little from last season, lost a bit of weight, and grown her hair out a bit. I'd like you all to meet Sophie.'

"I had no idea how they would react but suddenly the captain started clapping and the rest of the boys joined in. I haven't looked back. It feels amazing."

In a statement on her website, she said she believed the 'time is right' for her to put her name forward. She said:

"It is time for a united Labour Party to work together to defeat the Tories and work for the good of all, regardless of their position in society.

"I believe strongly in the values of equality and diversity, allowing everyone to thrive regardless of gender, sexuality, gender identity, race, religion, disability or wealth.

"At AFC Bournemouth, the Premier League club for whom I am the photographer, we have a motto: Together anything is possible. It was true for us and it can be true for the Labour Party."

Miss Cook, an ambassador for anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out and Sussex Police, is said to still be 'best friends' with her ex-wife, with whom she has two children. 

She'll face a tall order in unseating Tim Loughton, however, who secured 24,686 votes in 2015 - a 49.5% majority, with Labour trailing in second with 9,737 votes and UKIP coming third with 8,267 votes.

This article was written before nominations to stand as a candidate in the General Election closed. The deadline for submitting an application is Thursday 11 May 2017.

Photographs courtesy of Sophie Cook via Facebook.