Monday, July 15, 2013

Transgender Flag to be raised at Historic St. John's Pride Week Launch!

In March 2012, Transsexual, Jennifer McCreath, who co-founded St. John's Pride Incorporated in Sept. 2010, resigned from the organization and boycotted the 2012 Pride Parade, stating that she felt members of the gay/lesbian community, and their allies, were not understanding or sympathetic towards the issues and priorities of the transsexual and transgender communities.

Fast forward to July 2013, and Jennifer is cautiously optimistic as this City heads into Pride Week. For what may be the first time in world history, Pride organizers have announced that they will fly both a gay rainbow flag and a transgender pink, white & blue flag, at their flag-raising event at St. John's City Hall Monday, July 15, 2013, at 1 pm.

The transgender Pride flag was created by transwoman Monica Helms in 1999, and was first shown at a Pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona. The flag consists of five horizontal stripes: two light blue, two pink, and one white in the centre. Helms described the flag layout as follows: "The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional color for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional color for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are intersex, transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives."

Jennifer McCreath was contacted by Pride representatives and was not only advised of this event, but was given the honour of having her specific personal flag being used as the flag that will be raised in a special presentation. She advised that she will indeed attend. "Raising both flags together will demonstrate a community of unity and friendliness - something that is strongly needed here in St. John's, given that so many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans community remain closeted and afraid to reach out," said McCreath.

Pride also recently announced on their Facebook site, 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 finds it ironic that these politicians are willing to raise a transgender flag and support the flag-raising event, yet at the same time, she feels both city and provincial governments, as well as all provincial opposition parties, 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. Jennifer maintains that the myth that gay and transgender are the same thing, and that gay organizations are deemed qualified to speak and act for the transgender community, is causing more harm than good.

While McCreath appreciates that the St. John's Gay/Lesbian community like to use Pride Week to celebrate accomplishments and victories, such as securing access to same sex marriage, and successfully fighting for the removal of a life-time ban on blood donations by males who have had sex with males, she feels that members of the trans community are still fighting some of the most basic battles, and are not ready to celebrate just yet. While she embraces the opportunity for gay and trans folks to come together and form a sense of community, she hopes that there will be sufficient opportunities to use Pride Week as an opportunity to educate the public regarding the difference between gender identity (a sense of self) and sexual orientation (who you are attracted to), as well as demonstrate how these two issues differ, and seek assistance and understanding towards the challenges members of the trans community still face. Jennifer intents to attend numerous Pride Week events, and hopes to mend fences and build new bridges as she liaises with other Pride Week attendees.

Jennifer made headlines when she lost her job as a senior policy analyst, in 2009, with the Provincial Government's Office of the Chief Information Officer, shortly after coming out as trans. She was in the news again in 2011 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 works as a Communications Technician. She is an aspiring politician, an animal rights advocate, and a marathon runner. 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. Jennifer is an internationally-recognized activist and spokesperson for the trans community. 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 or 709-753-9529

-- Jennifer McCreath
St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador

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