Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wednesday June 23, 2010 - A dream advocacy meeting

Well, tonight, i was fortunate enough to be watching the 6 o'clock news, and took notice of a Public Forum this evening on Mental Health. Our Minister of Health had just announced funding for a variety of issues, and the forum was intended to gauge the public's opinions on how some of these programs should proceed.

Well, our Minister got up to the mike and gave us a lovely speech about how Newfoundland wants to be seen as leaders in terms of progressing with mental health - specifically, the fact that we are apparently getting away from old out of date policies and practices and that we are taking steps to eliminate discrimination and stigma faced by mentally ill people.

Well, interestingly enough, Justice Minister Felix Collins was in the front row of the audience, so when question period began, i gave a 2 minute heated speech that lead to a huge ovation from the room full of 200 people, mostly mental health professional and advocates..

this isn't word for word, but here's essentially what i said:

"I am Jennifer McCreath, a former government senior policy analyst. I like lots of what i have heard tonight and strongly agree with the concept of communication and outreach, but I really don't want to be here tonight! However, since Gender Identity Disorder is still being classified in the DSM as a mental illness, i went to my psychiatrist, who has spent 2 years 'assessing and diagnosing me' with this 'illness'

Doc wrote me a lovely letter suggesting recommended treatments, so i filed an application with our province's public health care insurance plan, but i was told that an out of date legislation prevented me from getting funding unless i jump through several addition, unnecessary, and extremely challenging hoops.

well, rather than start jumping, i called my laywer; who advised me to file a Human Rights complaint, which i did! and that resolved absolutely nothing!

(opening today's paper) then here i read that the new Human Rights Act still does not include protection for transgender or transsexual people.

you wanna talk about stigma? well Republic of Doyle (which had been mentioned earlier in the night) portrayed only 1 trans character in their popular tv series, and this transperson was a prostitite! this is ridiculous. I am not a prostitute and neither are most transpeople. this is unacceptable.

you wanna talk about discrimination? i lost my job as a senior analyst shortly after being 'diagnosed with this condition' and have since had 30 job interviews at the analyst or senior analyst level and not one job offer! this is unacceptable.

bottom line, i need care and i have not been getting it for 3 year. Stats indicate that 40% of transsexuals are at risk of suicide if not treated (or in your case, as you said earlier, will be reported as having 'died suddenly'), and i certainly don't want that to happen.

Minister Kennedy, i've got three questions for you:

1 - can i ask you to do the right thing and override your jurassic policies and sign off on this doctors note so i can get funding for the care that i need?

2 - can you please twist the arm of your colleague, Minister of Justice, Felix Collins, who i see is still sitting there in the front row, and ask him to amend the Human Rights Act to align with our theme tonight and take steps to ensure that trans people won't have to face any more discrimination?

and 3 - could both of you please talk to the premier and tell him to give me back my job as a senior analyst? because i am a darn good one!"

...that speech only took 2 minutes, but it was probably the most important 2 minutes of advocacy work i have ever done. the room erupted into a huge ovation. Then Minister Kennedy responded and tried to deflect the issue, play dumb, and cover up his crap. Then he actually asked Minister Collins to leave the audience to join the podium, where he regurgitated the exact same stuff he told to the media yesterday - stating that as trans issues are 'evolving,' he did not feel comfortable creating a definition to put into an Act. he also reiterated that the Human Rights Commission recommended against this. (so guess what Carey Majid? you're next in line for the Jennifer McCreath hot seat! hope you are ready!).

i followed up by suggesting that all the experts were in the room here tonight and if he needs an explanation, then all he has to do is ask!

neither responded to my question about getting back my job.

the night continued as citizen after citizen raised concern about mental health issues that had some sort of personal connection.. most were beefs, while a few offered compliments..

after the meeting had ended, refreshments were served. and i spent over an hour mingling with anyone who wanted to meet and chat. after things had died down, i made sure to follow up with both Ministers, and we actually had a really good chat. I made it clear that there is nothing personal and that i really would have preferred to be at home tonight playing with my cats, (instead of bashing politicians) but when my health care and human rights needs are not being met, i felt compelled to take action. I think they both genuinely understood and respected me for what i did tonight. will anything change? will anything get done? it's hard to say.. but at least these two folks can't say that they aren't aware of me or the issues, any more.

the only disappointment of the night was that no media felt this forum worthy of coverage, so the only way to read about my infamous tirade, is right here, at !

for more information on this matter, check my latest youtube vlog! and please also listen to my archived interview which i did yesterday for CBC.

..funny, a wise man once told me that if i criticized the government, my chances of getting a good job wouldn't be very good.. well, when you are 0 for 30 in analyst job interviews, you really do have nothing to lose! ultimately, i think everyone realized the importance and sense of desperation . i certainly hope this forum tonight will lead to positive change in a very timely manner, regarding these issues..



Ainsley said...

Beautiful job Jennifer! You have once again advanced the cause of Transexuals in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Canada. By attending the public forum on mental health in the Province of N.L. and skillfully articulating the mental health needs of Transexual people, you made a crucial point. How sad that the N.L. Human Rights Commission did NOT recommend including "gender identity" and
"gender expression" under the protection of the Human Rights Code in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Province is lagging behind other provinces and countries worldwide.

Ainsley said...

Newfoundland and Labrador has health professionals who have the capability and experience to diagnose treat Transexual people.
Why does the provincial health legislation not reflect the health resources that are available in N.L.? The legislation needs updating.