May 16, 2012 - PRESS RELEASE: Transsexual activist boycotts gay-rights breakfast with Human Rights Chair!
May 17 Marks International Day Against Homophobia. Among the local events in St. John's to commemorate this occasion is a breakfast event by Planned Parenthood at the Battery Hotel. The event features a keynote address by Remzi Cej, Chair of the Human Rights Commission of NL (NLHRC).
While gay activists often claim to speak for and represent members of the transgender and transsexual community, the Head of the soon-to-be-established Newfoundland Patients Association for Transsexual Health (Npath.net) Jennifer McCreath, says this is inappropriate.
McCreath filed a human rights complaint in 2009 against Newfoundland's Medical Care Plan when she was denied funding for transsexual surgery, even though her local doctor said it was medically-necessary. Last month, NLHRC ruled against McCreath and dismissed her complaint. She plans to Appeal.
"The hoops and red tape that NL transsexuals need to negociate in order to receive funding are absolutely ridiculous and nearly impossible to handle" McCreath explained. "I take personal offense that Mr. Cej would speak at any LGBT-rights function, after this ruling. There appears to be a strong misunderstanding between the difference of sexual orientation and gender identity" she elaborated.
While gay and lesbians have explicit Human Rights protection at both federal and provincial levels, by virtue of the words "sexual orientation" being included in the respective Acts, "gender identity" is still left out. On May 16, NDP MHA Gerry Rogers questioned Minister of Justice Felix Collins over this exclusion, and asked that gender identity be added; however, Collins refused.
No stranger to conflict with the gay community, McCreath resigned earlier this year from St. John's Pride Inc., a non-profit org that she co-founded, in part, due to what she said was a "lack of understanding and respect for trans issues by gay leaders."
While McCreath is supportive of anti-homophobia advocacy, she says she won't attend this event based on principle, "while many trans people are heterosexual, there are some who are gay/lesbian, so this issue affects our community as much as those who are not trans; however, this partnership between Planned Parenthood and Cej sends me a message that they don't respect the need for trans rights."