A transgender woman, who narrowly missed out on becoming Britain’s first transgender MP has released her first book.
Having spent a lifetime hating herself and struggling with post-traumatic stress, her gender identity, self-harm and suicide, RAF veteran and former motorbike racer, newspaper editor, Premier League football and rock photographer, Sophie Cook was at breaking point when she transitioned in 2015.
She became the first transgender woman to work in football’s Premier League as club photographer for AFC Bournemouth following her transition, and was Europe’s first trans TV newscaster with Brighton’s Latest TV where she also presented her own chat show and now has a show on RadioReverb.
Sophie has also been flying the flag for diversity and inclusion as well as forcing the discussion about mental health awareness as an in-demand public speaker, delivering keynote talks and LGBT workshops across the UK for high profile organisations such as the TUC, Kick It Out and Stonewall.
In April 2017 she was selected by the Labour Party to contest the East Worthing and Shoreham seat in the General Election, where against all the odds, she increased the Labour vote by 114% and narrowly missed out on becoming the UK’s first transgender MP.
“Everything that I’ve done since my transition has been about trying to raise awareness and help others, whether it’s mental health, hate crime, trans inclusion or breaking down the walls of prejudice. Politics felt like the ultimate way in which I could try to make a difference.”
Sophie’s autobiography Not Today: How I chose life has just been published and the book charts her personal journey from despair to redemption and acts as a self-help book for anyone struggling with their mental health or identity. From her childhood and her first suicide attempt at the age of 12, through post-traumatic stress after saving a colleagues life following an explosion whilst in the RAF. Sophie explores and examines her self-harming and depression, ultimately finding redemption, awareness and self-love.
Suicide, self-harm and coping
Writing in the book Sophie describes some of her darkest moments, “I know that one day I’ll kill myself, because I don’t know how to stop feeling this way but it won’t be today. In the meantime I’m going to do the best I can to enjoy every single day and then on the day that I die, in many, many years time, I’ll look back and realise that I didn’t get around to doing it.
But adds that she’s found a coping mechanism, “With this simple revelation, I found a way to live. It may not have slain my demons completely but it significantly reduced their power to hurt me.”
“Over the past three years I’ve spoken to thousands of people about my journey and how I overcame my demons and this, in turn, has helped them with their mental health and now it’s time to tell my full story for the first time.”
Poignant and heart-rending, yet at the same time inspiring and uplifting, Not Today traces a journey from private torment to personal triumph. Told with honesty and candour – and written with warmth and intimacy, outlining the huge emotional and social toll of gender dysphoria and chronicling a voyage towards truth, validation and authenticity. Sophie’s compelling story portrays the fragility and fortitude of human emotions, demonstrating how – by conquering fear and summoning strength – a person is capable of making the progression from loathing themselves to loving themselves.
But Not Today isn’t just a memoir.
“There’s all of the stories and ideas that are floating around in my head and I really needed to share them. It’s part autobiography, part self-help book, part political manifesto, and part personal philosophy. It’s everything that makes me me, and everything that I understand about how my journey led me here.
“Not everyone has the opportunity to change the world with a single act but we can all make incremental changes, by being nicer to people, by helping them, by standing up to hate or by respecting those that we meet.
“If we want to change the world we first need to look within ourselves and find the strength, compassion and love that fuels the human spirit. By loving ourselves we can learn to love others, by being kind to others we can learn to be kind to ourselves, unfortunately so many of us fall down on loving ourselves.”
Not Today: How I chose life is available as a paperback or eBook from www.sophiecook.me.uk/book