Charlie Kiss obituary

·3-min read

Charlie Kiss, who has died aged 56, led an extraordinary life. A kind, thoughtful and funny person with a glorious belly laugh, he was also something of a political compass for his family and friends, radiating incredulity and rallying protest against the worst schemes of the government of the day.

His memoir, A New Man (2017), was a characteristically unvarnished retelling of his life, detailing the mental health problems that stemmed from gender dysphoria. For many years his identity was that of a lesbian woman, and one who at the age of 17 lived at the women-only anti-nuclear protest camps at Greenham Common.

He was one of 44 women who broke through the fence at dawn on New Year’s Day, 1983, dancing in a circle on top of the missile silos. His actions led to brief prison sentences at Drake Hall, in Eccleshall, Staffordshire, and Holloway in north London – bleak but formative experiences. The Greenham women were seen as political prisoners and Islington council sent them champagne on their release.

In 2002, with the love and support of his family and friends, Charlie began the transition to being male. His life became more settled, calm and focused. He was simply happier and more himself. Charlie also embraced the Colombian heritage of his mother, Marta Lombard, an artist, and grandfather, the diplomat Jaime Jaramillo Arango. He visited relatives in Bogotá, learned Spanish and became a Colombian national.

Charlie was born in Paddington, west London, to Marta and Geoffrey Kiss, an art lecturer. After his parents’ separation, leading to a relocation to Devon, then York, Charlie went to Fulford secondary school in the city. Following Greenham Common, Charlie did a BTec in business and finance at the London College of Printing in 1989, and a degree in business studies at London South Bank University, graduating in 1993.

Charlie worked in the printing industry, then, after postgraduate studies in economics and finance at Birkbeck University, London, moved into the social sector, working for the London Borough of Camden as an administrator and then in social housing support from 2006 until his death.

In 2015, Charlie became the first trans man to run for parliament in the UK, standing for the Green party in Islington South & Finsbury. He leaves a legacy to be proud of: more Greens on Islington council, and better support and NHS funding for trans people.

In 2019 he was diagnosed with the incurable lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Charlie embraced this as a challenge, cashing in his pension for a world cruise, packing his schedule with political projects, and enjoying his love of cycling. Charlie’s courage, energy and goodness drove him to create the best possible life for himself and those around him.

Being admitted to hospital last month, he was asked some basic questions to test his cognition, including the name of the prime minister. Charlie scoffed and refused to answer.

He is survived by his girlfriend, Micky, his sister, Justina, two half-sisters, Ellie and me, two half-brothers, Tom and Leo, and two nieces, Magenta and Raven.

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