An activist in Northern Ireland is making a historical political run.
Ellen Murray is the first transgender person to run for elected office in Ireland. The 22-year-old is the Green Party’s candidate for May’s assembly election. If elected, she will serve as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for five years.
"I'm running for the NI Assembly because I want to further my work focused on social justice and human rights, which has been focused on young trans & non-binary people for the past few years," Murray told NTRSCTN. "Being elected to the Assembly would allow me to provide a different voice in Northern Irish politics, and would to some extent help address the complete lack of representation for LGBTQ people in regional politics here."
Murray, who blogs extensively about gender identity and mental health, plans to advocate for LGBTQ people and support reproductive healthcare rights if she’s elected.
“I will support campaigns to introduce abortion law reform, and provide LGBTQ people with equal rights and respect under the law,” she told the Irish Times.
She’s also invested in bringing better mental health services to the people of Northern Ireland.
“I will work to ensure that the health service is given the support it needs, especially in mental healthcare,” Murray said. “I will also press to develop a kinder and more compassionate welfare state to ensure a comfortable and dignified life for everyone.”
Having a transgender candidate in an Ireland election is significant for a number of reasons, according to Murray.
"A trans woman running for public office is significant because it represents a different political narrative from the norm-we're too used to older, straight, cis, middle-class-to-wealthy men representing the people of NI, and this leads to uninformed decisions in our lawmaking, and poor understanding of the impact of law on marginalised communities," she told NTRSCTN. "It will also hopefully provide some positive representation in media and civic life of trans people, and will hopefully go some way to make politics, and civic life in general, that bit more accessible in future."
The Green Party supports Murray’s campaign, tweeting, “We truly believe in truly representative politics.”
Steven Agnew, the Green Party’s Northern Ireland leader, told the Irish Times, “I am proud to be part of a party that is open and welcoming to all, culminating in Ellen's selection by the grassroots membership in West Belfast.”
The Green Party did not immediately respond to NTRSCTN's request for comment.
Murray's run is an exciting step toward having more inclusive politics. Hopefully, the U.S. will follow suit.