Mridul Wadhwa, a women’s rights activist and the manager of a rape crisis centre, has launched her bid to become a member of the Scottish parliament in the 2021 election.
Wadhwa is seeking selection as the Scottish National Party candidate in two constituencies – Stirling and Edinburgh Central. If she makes it through the selection process and wins in the election, she will be both the first trans person to serve in any of Britain’s parliaments and assemblies, and the first woman of colour to serve in the Scottish parliament.
An activist, Wadhwa is outspoken about women’s rights, trans rights and migrant rights, and she was a key proponent for #Vote100 in 2018.
Currently working as the manager of Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre, Wadhwa told Brig News, the University of Stirling’s student newspaper, that if elected she will fight to make sure “all of our communities had the voice in Holyrood that they deserve”.
“As a violence against women sector worker, I have dealt with the injustices of homelessness, poverty and trauma every working day of my life in Scotland,” Wadhwa said. “Working on the frontline has given me an insight into what needs to be done to alleviate these.”
“Equality is not achieved when our Black and minority ethnic, disabled and LGBTQ+ residents are excluded,” she continued.
“As a candidate of a diverse background who has worked within these communities, I can reach within Stirling’s diverse community to ensure that structural inequality that continues to exclude minorities is reduced.”
In Stirling, Wadhwa is up against Ellen Forson, Moraig Henderson, Rosemary Hunter, Susan McGill, Sameeha Rehman and Evelyn Tweed to be selected as the SNP candidate.
Her inclusion on the all-women shortlist has offended SNP members who are opposed to trans rights.
On National Coming Out day, Wadhwa described in a Twitter thread how she came to Scotland from India a few years after transitioning.
“In 2005, I started working at Shakti women’s aid and my life changed forever. I came out to some of my colleagues in the first few weeks of working there and never looked back. Those colleagues are now my closest friends,” Wadhwa wrote on October 11.
She added: “I was denied the opportunity to be inspired by the trans women who came before me. Therefore, it is my responsibility to tell my story so that those who come after me, know that a lot more is more possible for them.”
In Edinburgh Central – the seat currently held by Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in the Scottish parliament, by a majority of just 310 votes – Mridul Wadhwa and another activist, Lee-Anne Menzies, are up against Marco Biagi and the former SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson.
Like the rest of the UK, Scotland has never had an openly trans or non-binary member of parliament.