Camberwell woman sets her sights on becoming UK’s first trans-gender MP


Sarah Jane Baker – who claims to be the world’s longest-serving trans-gender prisoner – has said she will “take on the big hitters” in the next General Election, writes Joshua Askew…

The 52-year-old intends to stand for the Richmond Park seat against former London mayoral hopeful Zac Goldsmith.

She said that, alongside “making sure that the foxes don’t rip the bins apart”, one of her main policies would be to “stop the British government sending pregnant people to prison.”

“I want a seat at the big table, if I am to make the changes I want,” says Sarah. “If you are going to represent people you have to show them that you love and trust them. And that their interests are your number one concern.”

Sarah spent 30 years in prison for attempting to murder another prisoner, after being imprisoned for kidnapping and torturing her stepmother’s brother, and has since thrown herself into local causes.

She was born on Shakespeare Road in Brixton, but spent most of her childhood in Peckham and Camberwell.

“When I was sneaking around the streets as a kid it was a bit dangerous,” she laughed.

“I was a little tranny with a violin, man! I thought I was going to get battered all the time.”

Sarah said her early years in Camberwell were fraught with hardship. “When I was a child, I always wanted to live on Camberwell Grove, you know in one of those massive houses tucked away down there … but I knew that I would never be able to own one.”

“I come from a really poor family. Dad had numerous partners and lots of kids. He didn’t raise any of us very well. But you know what? I am really lucky. Camberwell put a bit of grit in my blood,” she added.

An important influence on Sarah’s early years was the black community of South London, especially those from Jamaica. “This got right on my dad’s nerves,” says Sarah. He felt threatened by the influx of immigrants during the 50s and 60s. But to me it was normal.”

“I know there are problems .. but you need migrants, like you also need the trans community, we need to be a buffer against people who don’t want to see diversity,” she added.

Sarah was sent to prison aged 21. She spent time in HMP Brixon, Whitemoor and several others. During her time inside, she claimed dozens of inmates took their own lives.

Even after she transitioned, Sarah was kept in male prisons. “Lots of people I knew in jail came from our area,” she said. “Prison is not full of middle-class kids who have a decent family.”

“A lot of the poor kids in Camberwell and Peckham need some more opportunities. At the moment, you’re either going to jail or you’re going to stack shelves. There’s nothing for us in Camberwell.”

Sarah has dedicated herself to prison abolitionism and local activism, since being released from prison in 2019. Her latest focus is gentrification, particularly increasing property prices that, she believed, were changing who could live in the local area.

“I want a bit of dirt on my street, I want a bit of grit. I want real people. I want to see people with real-world problems.”

“The thing I like the best about Camberwell is the cultural mix that we have. There’s a wonderful community around there. I love it. But I am afraid that the diversity of the community is going to go away.

We are going to end with all the same kinds of people.”

Sarah also expressed fears for the local LGBT community. She believed that in the last few years, especially after the Brexit vote, there has been an increase in hate crimes across London.

“I am part of the queer mafia,” said Sarah. “Trans people are everywhere and we are not going anywhere. We will take political power.”

We have no choice,” she added.

“Society needs us too. There needs to be a place for everybody to fit in, places like Camberwell.  if you are queer where are you going to live?

Sarah said that, despite its problems, she was happy to have spent some of her life in Camberwell. “I am really proud to be from South London.” “Amongst the shit and splendour of Camberwell is its magnificence.

“It is a rare little village,” she added.


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