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Sophie Cook, writer, speaker, activist, photographer

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Today’s 100 Pioneering Women of Sussex blog celebrates Sophie Cook. Sophie’s website introduces her as ‘a former Labour Party Parliamentary candidate, RAF veteran, Premier League Football photographer, self harm and suicide survivor…and transgender.’ This is the tip of the iceberg. Sophie’s work around diversity, inclusion and fighting to break the stigma around mental health has not only led to her being awarded the Doctor of Letters by Bournemouth University, but has also meant she has had a vital impact on those her Foundation supports.

Sophie Cook

Brighton Museum first met Sophie when she was asked to be part of the Queer Looks project and she donated ‘the’ red dress, as well as her story, to the Museum exhibition and Fashion Collection. Since then, Sophie has spoken at the TEDx Talks next door at Brighton Dome and at International Women’s Day in Brighton Museum in 2018.

Sophie Cook Election dress, in Brighton Museum

Sophie was working as a club photographer for AFC Bournemouth in football’s Premier League when she came out as transgender, following her transition from Steve to Sophie.

Locally, Sophie contested the East Worthing & Shoreham seat in the 2017 General Election, narrowly missing out on becoming the UK’s first trans MP but increasing the Labour vote by 114%. Sophie’s red and white dress, which she wore to the election results is now part of the Fashion Collection at the Museum, representing an ever growing and visible collection of LGBTQ+ stories and objects.

Sophie is upfront and open about her own struggles with mental health, from suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after an incident in the RAF to fears around her gender identity, being ‘outed’ and coming out, to ongoing daily challenges.

Sophie Cook

She has published her autobiography and mental health self help book, “Not Today: How I Chose Life”, and is currently writing the sequel “Not Today: Losing my Addictions”, as well as penning articles on trans-equality, homelessness, and the UK’s political system for a number of major publications.

Sophie Cook

Sophie Cook

After stepping down as an Independent political candidate in the 2019 General Election, Sophie decided that she can have more of a direct impact on people’s lives by focusing on the ‘Sophie Cook Foundation’, raising awareness, providing advice and publishing resources on mental health and breaking the stigma surrounding it.

To invite Sophie to give a talk or find out more about The Sophie Cook Foundation, visit Sophie’s website