Monday, July 15, 2013
McCreath Announces Run For City Office, as Transgender Flag flies at City Hall for First time!
On the date of an historic event at St. John's City Hall, that will see the raising of a transgender flag along side of the traditional gay/lesbian rainbow flag; perhaps Newfoundland and Labrador's best-known transgender citizen, Jennifer McCreath, is officially throwing her name into the hat for a seat on City Council in the up-coming Municipal election.
St. John's Pride Inc. recently announced on their Facebook site, that they would raise both the traditional gay/lesbian rainbow flag, and the pink/blue/white transgender flag, together, at their opening ceremony, the flag-raising event, Monday at 1 pm at St. John's City Hall. Pride also announced that representatives from the City, as well as representatives from all three provincial political parties, had agreed to attend the flag raising and were expected to give speeches.
Jennifer, a well-known transgender rights activist and political blogger, finds it ironic that these politicians are willing to raise a transgender flag and support the flag-raising event, yet at the same time, both city and provincial governments have turned what she feels is a blind eye to some major issues affecting transgender and transsexual persons in this city and this province - specifically, gender identity nor gender expression appear in human rights laws or regulations at either level of government. She also has concerns about the lack of health care products, services, and funding, for transgender/transsexual related medical conditions, that have been deemed medically-necessary by doctors. She also has concerns that many trans people suffer from underemployment and unemployment, as well has have challenges finding access to rental housing.
QUIT THE NDP TO BECOME NEUTRAL
Over the past two years, members of the St. John's Gay/Lesbian community have celebrated the election of the first openly gay/lesbian person to the House of Assembly, when NDP member, Gerry Rogers, was elected in 2011. Jennifer McCreath, an openly out transsexual and lesbian, is a former card-holding member of both provincial and federal NDP parties. She abruptly resigned from the NDP shortly after Pride Week last year, over concerns she had about how the NDP was positioning themselves as trans human rights advocates. Specifically, Jennifer has spoken out against NDP Federal Private Members Bill C-279, stating that the amendments to the bill tabled by bill- sponsor Randall Garrison, watered down the bill to the point that it would not sufficiently accomplish the goals the original bill was set out to create - specifically, provide universal and explicit Human Rights protection to all human beings, regardless of Gender Identity or Gender Expression. McCreath went so far as to create a website Tcac279.org, representing a movement known as Trans Canadians Against Bill C-279, to voice these concerns. Jennifer felt that not only the NDP, but all major political parties, viewed trans issues as nothing more than political pawns. She vowed to take on a politically-neutral stance to take steps that trans rights became a universal issue, rather than a political one.
While Gay and Lesbian politicians are being successfully elected all over the country, sadly, no trans-identified person has ever been elected to public office anywhere in Canada, at any level of government. Jennifer hopes to change this, and offers St. John's the unique opportunity to claim the distinction of being the first. Jennifer is proud to announce her intention to seek a seat on City Council in the upcoming September election in the City of St. John's. While she has yet to formally file paperwork, and while she has yet to decide which position to run for, she is certain that she will indeed put her name on the ballot.
WHY SHE IS RUNNING
While Jennifer certainly does not expect support specifically because of her trans medical history, she feels that the life experiences she has faced, specifically, challenges with government institutions, has helped give her knowledge and experience as to how government programs operate, and how government engages citizens. Additionally, she feels this gives her knowledge and experience on how these matters could potentially be improved, especially for minority groups and other oppressed demographics.
Jennifer also has concerns about what appears to be a perceived lack of trust of Government and government processes, and/or outright indifference towards politics and public policy, among a large quantity of the lower and middle classes. She hopes that the announcement of her candidacy will re-engage and rejuvenate interest in the political process, of those who traditionally have felt disengaged or indifferent. She, ironically, feels that she can better relate to many of these voters than the majority of other candidates who are among the upper class, "People will be more likely to trust someone who has walked a mile in their shoes. I know what it's like to live pay cheque to pay cheque. I know what it is like to have to walk on snow-covered sidewalks in the winter here. I know what it's like to have trouble finding a place to live or finding a better job," Jennifer said.
Jennifer also hopes that her political neutrality will help voters gain confidence that she will always remain transparent and accountable to the electorate, and will not make decisions that are bias towards one political party's ideology or another. "I felt highly disturbed when Federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair announced he will be pushing for Sheilagh O'Leary to become the next mayor, and Sheilagh then indicated she had no idea he was going to say that. That seemed very suspicious," says McCreath. She feels this gives the public a perception that municipal politicians are mere puppets of provincial and federal political parties, and this raises a series of concerns. She is actually quite concerned, as a citizen, to see so much political partisanship veer it's head into this municipal election, and she looks forward to running a campaign that focuses on her neutrality, just as much as one that focuses on her skill-sets and experiences.
Jennifer also states that it will be a priority of hers to take steps to see that the City can do a better job communication and collaborating with other levels of Government, to ensure all citizens of St. John's get the types of Government Services that they need, "St. John's is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. Federal and Provincial products and services cannot be considered a one-size-fits-all situation for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians," said McCreath.
Finally, Jennifer states she will likely run a low-key campaign, and do so on a part-time basis, "this will be a word-of-mouth campaign. there will not be any huge fundraisers. I am not trying to buy votes and I will not be seeking to litter the city with plastic election signs. This is the last thing locals and tourists want to see during the lovely summer months ahead. My commitment and dedication to this city as a citizen, is already well-documented," said McCreath.
WHO IS JENNIFER?
Jennifer is an internationally-recognized activist and spokesperson for the trans community. She made provincial headlines when she lost her job as a senior policy analyst, in 2009, with the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Government's Office of the Chief Information Officer, shortly after coming out as trans. She was in the news again in 2012 when the Human Rights Commission of NL refused to hear her discrimination complaint against the Provincial Health care funding Insurance Plan, MCP, over MCP's refusal to cover the costs of medical procedures that had been deemed medically-necessary by her local doctors.
McCreath went on to find employment with the Provincial Government's Crown Attorneys' Office, and was a victim of recent Provincial budget cuts to the Department of Justice, in April 2013. She landed on her feet; however, when she took advantage of her union seniority to secure a position with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, where she currently works as a Communications Technician.
McCreath is a marathon runner and is well-known in the international gay/lesbian/bi/trans athletic community. Jennifer pioneered the trans sex category at the 2009 World Outgames in Denmark, an Olympic-like sporting event for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans communities. She took home Gold Medals in both Running and Swimming, for her efforts. She has run 30 marathons to date, including twice at the Boston Marathon, and five times at home in the Newfoundland Provincial Marathon.
Jennifer will make history later this year when she becomes the first openly-trans person to run for public office in the Province of NL, when she puts her name on the ballot for the St. John's municipal election, in September.
Interview requests: contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 709-753-9529
St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador
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