Transgender ex-Labour MSP candidate Heather Herbert defends her decision to share a photo of herself performing a post-surgery dilation exercise in a disabled toilet at Gatwick Airport

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Transgender ex-Labour MSP candidate Heather Herbert defends her decision to share a photo of herself performing a post-surgery dilation exercise in a disabled toilet at Gatwick Airport

A transgender former Labour MSP candidate has today defended her decision to use an airport’s disabled toilet to do dilation exercises following her gender reassignment surgery.

Heather Herbert shared the image of herself lying on the floor at Gatwick Airport.

She was returning to Scotland from London after male to female surgery, which she referred to as ‘V Day’ on Twitter

Ms Herbert was a Labour member who stood for the party and voted for Scottish Independence but has now joined the Greens, claiming Sir Keir Starmer‘s Party took ‘no interest’ in tackling transphobia among members.

She posted an image of herself lying on the floor of a disabled loo at Gatwick doing ‘dilation’ exercises, which doctors say need to be done daily to promote healing. She said: ‘Found a disabled toilet… not the most fun I’ve had.’

Earlier she had tweeted: ‘Dilation, day two, let’s play. Where in an airport can I locate a clean, dry, private place I can lie down, take my knickers off and spread my legs?’

Her tweets led to criticism, including several claiming it was ‘the wrong idea’ to share it. One critic said: ‘You should delete it,’ to which Heather replied: ‘Why?’ 

Justifying it to another critic, she replied that she was ‘sharing a photo of how I was forced to perform a medical procedure due to all the other facilities being airside [beyond passport and customs control]’.

Heather Herbert shared the image of herself lying on the floor at Gatwick Airport in a disabled toilet, claiming there were no other facilities

Heather Herbert shared the image of herself lying on the floor at Gatwick Airport in a disabled toilet, claiming there were no other facilities

Heather was a Labour member who stood for election and voted for Scottish Independence but has now joined the Greens

Heather was a Labour member who stood for election and voted for Scottish Independence but has now joined the Greens

Patients having gender reassignment surgery spend at least three days in the hospital and two weeks banned from doing any strenuous physical activity.

Male to female reassignment. What is dilation? 

Some surgeons use a method called penile inversion. This creates a tunnel which turns into the new vagina.

The tunnel is lined with skin from the scrotum, the penis or both. If there isn’t enough skin there, the surgeon may take skin from somewhere else on the body.

Removal of the testicles is required as part of a vaginoplasty.

The surgery is done under general anesthesia and the majority of people spend three days in hospital afterwards.

Recovery from the procedure can take up to three months and needs intensive post-operative care.

Patients will need to dilate daily.

The body initially treats the vaginoplasty like a wound, meaning that dilation must be performed by the patient so the new vagina does not close up. 

Daily dilation ends after week 12 in some cases. Other doctors recommend daily dilation for the rest of the patient’s life.

Heather was born in Leicester but moved to Scotland in 2013.

She voted for independence four years later and joined Scottish Labour, saying that she was ‘hoping to move the party to the Left’ but ‘failed’.

Her personal website states: ‘In November 2018 she was elected trans officer for LGBT+ Labour Scotland where she worked with members at all levels of the party to try and eradicate transphobia, through education.

‘One of the areas Heather identified, where trans visibility could play a major role in winning the normalisation of trans identity, is that of elected members and so with that she stood in the 2019 general election for the Gordon constituency where she ran as a paper candidate and was unsurprisingly not elected. 

‘She ran again in 2021, for the Scottish Parliament constituency of Donside, where again she ran as a paper candidate for the Labour Party.

‘In late 2021 she left Scottish Labour and joined the Scottish Greens and shortly afterwards was elected, along with Beth Douglas, co-convenor of the Rainbow Greens’.

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