UK’s longest-serving transgender prisoner to run for Richmond Park MP

The UK’s longest-serving transgender prisoner is planning to run to be the UK’s first trans MP in her local constituency of Richmond Park.

Kew resident Sarah Jane Baker, 51, is an activist, artist, author and sex-worker, and is building a platform to run as an independent candidate against Liberal Democrat incumbent Sarah Olney.

Baker was released from prison in 2019 after serving 30 years of a life-sentence in male prisons. 

Last year she was attacked by 20 people for being transgender, in Richmond, and has since experienced transphobic abuse on multiple occasions. 

Baker said: “I want real legal protection for transgender people, not just police arriving to tell you they’re sorry these things happen.

“If I stick my head above the parapet people are going to shoot at me. But the only power we’ve got is the law, we have to make the law work for us.

“I need to get on the inside and affect policy.

“People need someone who isn’t rich and has no skin in the game.”

Baker currently claims Universal Credit, and she advocates that people on benefits should be given all the tools to build a life.

For Baker, gas, electric and water should be free to those who claim.

Her other main policies include releasing all pregnant people from prison, increased protection for transgender people, immediate ring-fenced 15% pay rise for NHS staff, free admission to Kew Gardens and free transport for people on benefits.

Of the many protests that Baker attends, on the 1 April she graffitied her car to support a protest for a 15% increase in NHS pay at Lewisham Hospital organised in-part by the UK’s largest trade union, Unite, who also paid for the paints.

She arrived at the protest with ‘1% is not enough’ emblazoned in multicoloured capitals across the bonnet of her Mini, and NHS and Unite across the doors.

“1% is not enough” spray painted on Baker’s Mini Cooper. Credit: Sarah Jane Baker

NHS nurse, Unite representative, and Baker’s partner Anita Downs, 43, said historically the Royal College of Nursing would never go on strike, because they understand the importance of the services they’re overriding.

However, if a decent offer is not paid unions will look at balloting strike action. 

Baker is also supporting free non-means-tested university education for all, lockable bins to prevent fox raids, a tightening of environmental laws to protect green spaces, and an increase in social care for people with mental health and addiction problems that have spiked during the pandemic.

She has spoken at protests for London Rent Strike, HS2 Rebellion, Kill The Bill, Trans Pride, and Night Pride.

She said: “Prison makes you think about community. People want change but they don’t know how to make it.

“The scariest thing to me would be nothing changing.”

Baker sat on the bonnet of her Mini covered with spray painted pink hearts. Credit: Pol Allingham

After learning to read and write in prison, she has authored three books, and a tapestry she created while in HMP Lewes is currently on display at Brighton Museum and Gallery. 

She has also had her art exhibited in Turner Contemporary, Westminster Hall, Southbank Centre, Kensington + Chelsea Art Week.

Featured image credit: Lewisham Hospital Campaign

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