Labour’s candidate to stand against Cabinet Minister Rishi Sunak in the Yorkshire constituency of Richmond is one of the first non-binary people to stand for Parliament.
Cambridge graduate Thom Kirkwood lives in Croft-on-Tees in the constituency, and works as a supply teacher in schools across North Yorkshire and County Durham.
Mx Kirkwood has been involved in campaigning for fair funding for schools, and in particular for a fair deal for students with special educational needs.
Mx Kirkwood grew up as a forces child, living on military bases all across the country until the age of eight, when the family returned to permanently settle in North Yorkshire. Before teaching, Mx Kirkwood worked on local farms, in hotels, and in pubs to pay their way through university.
A Quaker, keen gardener, and a trainee beekeeper, Mx Kirkwood is one of the first non-binary people to stand as a parliamentary candidate.
People who are non-binary do not identify with being either male or female, and many use the gender-neutral honorific of Mx as an alternative to Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss.
Mx Kirkwood said: “I am immensely proud to be standing to represent the area where I live and my family roots are. This is a wonderful area to live; but over the last few years ordinary people have been finding it harder and harder to get by, and I am worried that it might not last.
“Villages like the one I live in are dying out: businesses are closing, young people are priced out of living in the communities they grew up in, and public transport routes which are a lifeline for our communities are being cut.
“Our schools are in crisis, with funding cuts forcing rural schools to face the possibility of closure and teaching to the test replacing a broad education. The budget squeeze and reorganisation of our NHS services and social care have been putting the fabric of the service at risk, as I've seen affecting my own family. Cuts to police budgets are putting our communities' safety at risk, and the force are so stretched that most people don't get the chance to know their local police officer.
“People here in Richmondshire, Northallerton, and the Great Ayton area need a local representative that will put them first. I will work tirelessly over the next month to let local people know that this general election will be a choice between a Labour Party that will stand up for all people in the constituency or a Conservative Party that will sign Trade Deals with Donald Trump that will let American imports undercut the high standards of British farming, and whose failure to address the environmental crisis is this green and pleasant land that we love at risk."
Note: An earlier version of this article said Mx Kirkwood was the first non-binary person to stand for Parliament. This has now been corrected.