A Welsh Labour candidate for Cardiff council shared social media posts suggesting that transgender people are "brainwashed", The National has found.

Sue Lent, the party's candidate for the Plasnewydd ward in Cardiff, also made Facebook comments claiming that "gender ideology" had "infected everything", and shared an article arguing that transgender people are mentally ill.

The finding comes a day after the Welsh Government announced it is exploring options to "unilaterally" ban trans conversion therapy in Wales, and reaffirmed its pledge to protect the LGBTQ+.

Ms Lent is a sitting councillor for the Plasnewydd ward on Cardiff County Council, a long-time Labour activist and a member of the Cardiff Vale and Valleys Adoption panel, which makes decisions on the placement of children with adoptive parents.

She is a Local Authority Governor for two primary schools in the capital - Roath Park and the Howardian - and sits on Cardiff Council’s Community & Adult Services Scrutiny Committee, along with its Corporate Parenting Advisory Committee - which gives guidance on care for looked-after children.

 

 

Ms Lent spoke in opposition to her party's LGBTQ+ Action Plan at a protest on the steps of the Senedd last year.

The protest was organised by Merched Cymru, a group that campaigns against the right of trans women to use women's facilities and participate in women's sports.

In its response to the LGBTQ+ Action Plan, Merched Cymru writes: "Being oneself in relation to one’s sexuality is not always appropriate – particularly at work.

"The need to ‘be open’ can easily become oppressive to others."

The National Wales:

Yesterday the group criticised the Welsh Government's pledge to ban conversion therapy, labelling the move "virtue-signalling" and "political point-scoring with little benefit and a risk of harm to children & young people".

Sue Lent has regularly shared content from Merched Cymru on her public Facebook account, including its report on the LGBTQ+ Action Plan.

In 2020, the Cardiff councillor celebrated the UK Government's scrapping of "self-ID" reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) - a policy which would have simplified the process for trans people to change their gender on their birth certificate - writing on Facebook: "So proud of what we've achieved.

The National Wales:

This view appears to contradict Welsh Labour policy, which aims to "devolve powers in relation to Gender Recognition and support our trans community."

At the time of UK Labour's Brighton conference in September last year, Ms Lent said in a Facebook comment: "Sex is binary - gender identity is different and lot of people are being brainwashed into thinking they have one."

Cardiff resident Franklin Quill, 30, who is trans, told The National he made a complaint about Lent to both Welsh and UK Labour back in 2018, after the councillor became involved in a controversial meeting of A Woman's Place UK (WPUK), another group which campaigns against self-ID and the right of trans people to access facilities that match their gender.

The National Wales:

It was alleged, but denied by Ms Lent, that the meeting took place at Roath Park Primary School, where she serves as a governor.

He says he was initially told by Welsh Labour that it was a matter of "personal opinion", but after he submitted a further complaint about Sue Lent's social media activity later that year, he was advised she had been spoken to about her online conduct.

The National approached Welsh Labour for comment on this matter, but did not receive a response by the time of writing. 

In 2019, Ms Lent shared an article on her Facebook account titled Transgenderism: A Pathogenic Meme. 

The article, which argues that trans people are suffering a mental illness that should be corrected through "therapy", describes transgender women as “men [who want] to display themselves in sexy ways, wearing provocative female garb,” and suggests that they have a sexual fetish called “autogynephilia”.

The National Wales:

Of the article, Sue Lent wrote: "One of the clearest explanations of transgenderism I've ever read."

Lent also shared a petition calling for a trans children's charity, Mermaids, to be banned from delivering awareness training to staff in the public sector.

In early 2020, Franklin Quill says he met with Cardiff Central MS Jenny Rathbone to discuss a range of trans issues.

At the meeting, he again expressed concerns about Sue Lent's continuing online rhetoric about trans people, he says.

By that time, he and his long-term partner were considering adoption, and said he had been concerned about their chances, given Ms Lent's place on the local adoption panel.

READ MORE: 33 years on we can’t let Section 28 happen again

He says he was advised that the issue was being discussed internally, and that Ms Lent had been "encouraged not to run" for re-election. 

The National approached Jenny Rathbone for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of writing. 

The National Wales: Recent Facebook posts by the councillor indicate that she still holds strong views about trans people. Recent Facebook posts by the councillor indicate that she still holds strong views about trans people.

Having intended to vote for Labour candidates in the upcoming local elections, Mr Quill was shocked when he received a campaign leaflet with Sue Lent listed as a candidate, with the councillor pictured alongside First Minister Mark Drakeford.

"That Sue Lent has been allowed to not only abuse her position to further her ideological ends but that Labour fails to recognise or acknowledge that she is doing so in her capacity as a Labour Councillor, not just a private citizen, is shocking," Mr Quill said.

"I don't have any faith in their capacity to support me or my family in these circumstances, which terrifies me given the trajectory of anti-trans rhetoric and activism in this country and the UK as a whole."

READ MORE: Queer Wales: Eighteen years since Section 28 repeal

Recent social media posts by Sue Lent indicate that her views on transgender people remain consistent.

In March she shared a series of images relating to Lia Thomas, a 22 year-old woman who this year became the first openly trans athlete to win a prestigious American college swimming championship.

A caption alongside a picture of Lia Thomas quotes George Orwell, reading: “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

On 13th February, sharing a Wall Street Journal article by commentator Colin Wright, Ms Lent wrote: “The thing I dislike most about people putting their pronouns on their emails is that they think they’re so superior to the rest of us. The term virtue signalling was made for them.”

Earlier that same month, after having posted about attending a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Ms Lent engaged in a debate about whether the film was offensive for its depiction of men wearing women's lingerie.

The National Wales:

"The Rocky Horror Show has been performed since the early 70s, well before gender ideology infected everything and before non-binary was invented," Ms Lent wrote.

"Transvestites never made claims to actually be the opposite sex but now the word is banned by the gender ideologues."

The term "transvestite" is no longer considered appropriate because of "transvestitism" was the medical term used when being trans was still considered a mental illness.

The terms "drag" and "cross-dressing" are still used to refer to the practice of dressing in gender non-conforming ways, however.

Ms Lent added: "I know drag can be seen as mocking women but where do we draw the line.

"I certainly don’t want children involved in drag story time but I think pantomime dames are part of our culture and the point is everyone knows they’re men and that’s why they’re funny."

The National Wales:

A spokesperson for Glitter Cymru, a LGBTQ+ network for BAME people in Cardiff, said: "We were shocked when we saw the evidence regarding Sue Lent and her activity- which appears to be extensive and openly aggressive.

"The fact that this is happening so close to the election will definitely impact people's votes, and rightfully so.

"As LGBTQ activists and advocates for social justice, it's our responsibility to come together, make the community feel empowered and ensure that trans exclusive voices are deplatformed.

"It's a shame that Lent's activity hit the news yesterday, as it was a brilliant day for trans rights in Wales - Hannah Blythyn AM announced that Wales will be looking to ban conversion therapy unilaterally for the LGBTQ community.

"This is a win that we have been heavily involved in. The LGBTQ community in Wales is as strong as ever.

"We look after our own, we co-ordinate, and we act quickly."

LGBTQ Labour was approached for comment, but no response was received by time of writing.

The First Minister's office declined to comment on the grounds that his campaign activity is a "party matter".

Sue Lent was also approached for comment, but no response was received by the time of writing.

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.