By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com November 19 2013 7:53 PM ET
Nikki Sinclaire, who represents a region of the U.K. in the European Parliament, has just come out as transgender and also a rape survivor.
Sinclaire revealed that she had gender-reassignment surgery in 1995, while in her 20s, in her autobiography, Never Give Up, which will be published next Monday. Over the weekend, U.K. tabloid The Sun carried an extensive interview with her, with the less than sensitive headline “Rape After Sex Swap Op Turned Me Lesbian.”
Her own words tell a story more nuanced than the concept of “turning” her. Sinclaire does identify as lesbian and is in a long-term relationship with a woman, and she acknowledged that she “became very anti-men” after the rape, in 1999, but she also said she had same-sex attractions and experimented sexually with women before the attack.
“As a boy, I never ever felt any attraction to women — it was just so alien to me,” she told The Sun. “But in 1998, three years after the op, I felt attracted to a woman for the first time. I couldn’t work out what was happening.”
After the assault, she said, “I only ever had sex with a man once again and it wasn’t right. I started my first real relationship with a woman a few weeks after the rape. It only lasted for three months but I knew it was what was needed in my life.”
Of her surgery, she told The Sun, “Gender reassignment surgery nearly killed me — but it was something I had to do. If I hadn’t become a woman I would have led a lonely, neurotic life, forever out of place, endlessly consulting doctors and therapists at public expense.”
In a series of tweets Sunday, Sinclaire said she had received support “from across the political spectrum” in light of her gender-reassignment revelation, which makes her the United Kingdom’s first openly transgender parliamentarian, The Independent reports. The foreword to her book recognizes her history-making status but also says she hopes to be known “less as a statistic than for her conviction politics.”
One of her convictions is that the U.K. should leave the European Union; Sinclaire is a member of the We Demand a Referendum Now party, which is pushing to end the nation’s membership. Nonetheless, she has said she is using her time in the European Parliament to campaign for measures that will better the lives of the constituents in her region, England’s West Midlands.