A pioneering disabled Labour politician has been admitted to hospital for a major heart operation, just days after fighting a general election campaign.
Emily Brothers (pictured) is believed to have been the first blind woman to stand for parliament and also the first candidate with a trans-sexual history to stand for Labour in a parliamentary election.
But she was diagnosed with a serious heart condition just days after “coming out” as transgender, in December last year, following a routine health check.
Brothers, who secured more than 2,000 more votes in the Sutton and Cheam seat than Labour managed in the 2010 election, was admitted to St George’s hospital in Tooting, south-west London, on Monday, for a triple heart bypass operation.
Only two days earlier, she had been campaigning for the party in Sutton High Street.
Before her admission, she said: “I had been finding things increasingly difficult, but put that down to hard work and a loss of fitness.
“It was a stressful time when ‘coming out’, but that was quickly followed by overwhelming support from the public, for which I’m so grateful.
“Little did they know that I was also grappling with serious health problems.”
She said she briefly considered withdrawing from the election campaign, but added: “My focus and drive isn’t very susceptible to diversion, so I pushed on with my sense of ambition and stuck at the task of representing the interests of hardworking and aspiring people.
“I felt a great sense of responsibility not to fail at the first hurdle.
“Whatever happens from here, I hope my political journey will prove a footprint for those who may follow.”
Charlie Mansell, chair of Sutton and Cheam Labour party, said: “Emily is a pioneering campaigner and has demonstrated commitment to uphold trust in politics by telling her personal story.
“Countless numbers of people within Labour and outside our movement have been inspired by Emily’s tenacity and positive approach to life.
“Emily is a high-energy campaigner, which can be very tiring for the rest of us. Yet the important task now must be for Emily to get medical support and work through her recovery. We wish her well in that endeavour.”
He said tonight (Thursday) that Brothers was “making good progress” after her operation, and was expected to leave hospital within a couple of days.
Brothers told Disability News Service last year that she has experienced far more discrimination as a blind person than she has as a transgender woman – she began living full-time as a woman in March 2007, and received a gender recognition certificate in October 2009.
She is a former programme head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, where she specialised in health and local government, previously worked at the Disability Rights Commission and the disability charity RNIB, and is a former president of The National Federation of the Blind.