A candidate bidding to become Glasgow's first trans councillor has said she wants to be a “face that doesn’t cause fear” amid a climate of “disinformation.”
Former environmental manager Elaine Gallagher, who has three degrees would be one of the city's first trans councillors if she gets elected on Thursday. Standing for the Scottish Greens in the Southside Central ward, Elaine, aims “to look out for everyone” including defending trans rights.
Currently there are vocal critics who are against transgender people being able to choose to use a single sex space such as toilets and changing rooms.
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Explaining the need for trans people to feel safe, she said: “Male toilets are very unsafe for trans. Trans people need to be included in safe spaces.”
Elaine has found many women to be inclusive and welcoming - including in bathrooms.
She said: “The number of women I have seen who say ‘hello I like your look."
Commenting on the issue of trans rights, Elaine said: “People are hearing trans people are a threat to women and children. People who don’t know any better are looking at this misinformation and getting behind it. It is like rolling civil rights back to the 1950s. Gay people 30 years ago were seen as threats. Trans phobia is equivalent to racism and anti-semitism.”
Elaine has endured people shouting at her in the street and said it “made going out terrifying” in the past. But she has suffered less harassment more recently pointing out being older leads to more invisibility.
She said: “The risk of being harassed is something trans people have to endure.”
The 55-year-old is aiming to be the Scottish Green’s first councillor in the ward for 10 years, helping tackle poverty, bin problems, flytipping, litter and other issues.
She said: “I am a trans person who would be looking out for all people (as a councillor). First and foremost I want to be a trans person doing the job for everyone the same way as a black person or a Muslim does the job for everybody. I want to be a face that doesn’t inspire fear.
“I want to be the person showing trans people are people too.”
One idea put forward by Elaine is putting out more notices about rubbish disposal in different languages. She also wants to be see more enforcement against fly tipping and more community efforts to rid the streets of litter - and stop it being dropped at all. She said: “Every door I go to in Govanhill I hear bins are a problem. We need to invest in cleanliness and get the community working together for pride of place. Why is litter there in the first place?”
She vows to be the type of candidate people will see out on the street not just on Twitter and she has already been trying to help people she has met while out campaigning.
Currently she is working as a freelance copywriter while surviving on universal credit. She would like to see pay rises in the council to match inflation. She said: “ I know what it is like to be at the blunt end of the austerity regime. I have deep sympathy for people who have their benefits cut and see electric double in price.”
With a degree in physics, another in space engineering and a masters in environmental management she is aware of the science and practicalities behind protecting the planet as a Green candidate.
Elaine, who has also worked as an engineer, said: “ Environmental activism works no matter what people will tell you.”
She described tackling climate change as a “political problem” and pointed out the importance of plans being realistic and that people have to “live.”
She added: “Everybody is sick of being preached at.”
The Green party manifesto is calling for a “greener and fairer Glasgow” and aiming to work towards climate action as well as social justice in the city.
Elaine, who has lived in Glasgow since 2005, is optimistic the party can win more seats in the city with candidates standing in every ward. Speaking of the Southside Central ward, Elaine said: “I’m getting a really good reception here. It is the most densely populated ward in Glasgow.
“I think it is wonderful. There are 50 different languages in this area and the LGBT community is very strong here.”
As a transgender women she has experienced transitioning to Elaine. Now she wants services improved to help others.
She said: “I came out to my friends around 2006. My pal said: ‘okay we are going shopping.’”
She pointed out health care for trans people is “badly underfunded and disorganised.”
In Glasgow the Sandyford gender identity clinic has waiting times of 36 months for an initial appointment. The Scottish Greens want NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to commit to a trial of a new alternative pathway to trans healthcare.
Elaine is one of 10 candidates standing in the Southside Central ward.
Also standing are: Alexander Belic, SNP, Kamran Butt, Alba, Paul Donnelly, Scottish Socialist Party - End Fuel Poverty, Jamie Dyer, Sam Glasgow-Jackson, Mhairi Hunter, Tariq Parvez, Conservative, James Scanlon, Labour, and Soryia Siddique, Labour.