Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Transgender Senator? Why not? It's Almost 2016! and it's International Human Rights Day!

My open letter to the Prime Minister, which I emailed him tonight!

December 10, 2015

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

As I am sure you are aware, Dec. 10 represents International Human Rights Day - in commemoration of Dec. 10, 1948 when the UN declared Universal Human rights.

One of the first things you did after being elected, that caught my attention, was utter the phrase "It's 2015". Ever since that moment, there has been an increased amount of attention paid to the issue of women being under-represented in political offices nation-wide.

As I am sure you are aware, the first female to run as a Federal candidate, and coincidentally, the first female candidate to be elected into the Canadian parliament, was Agnes MacPhail in 1921. It's been a long 96 years, but it is exciting to finally have a Federal Cabinet that has equal representation of male and females.

Unfortunately, equality for other groups in politics remains a challenge. When I heard those words, "It's 2015", the first thing that came to my mind was that it may as well be 1915 for those of us who are transgendered. While it took 54 years from date of Confederation, for Canada to elect a female, it took 148 years for an openly-transgendered person to even appear on a ballot as a candidate - and that candidate garnished a mere 84 votes in a rural Newfoundland riding, for a very small and new political party who is a virtual unknown entity to Canadian's outside of french-speaking Quebec (Forces et Democratie).

While I knew my chances of winning a seat were slim, I hope that by stepping up to the plate as a candidate, and by having the endorsement of a registered political party, I will have encouraged more transgendered Canadians to take an interest in politics and consider offer themselves for public office in the future. Furthermore, I hope that all registered political parties will take trans people more seriously and entertain running them as candidates.

Yesterday, I listened as Randall Garrison tabled a private-member's Bill to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include "gender identity and gender expression", a bill quite similar to others that have passed through the three-reading process of the House in the two previous parliaments. As we all know, those bills died on the order table in what many consider to be a broken down senate.

Transgender human rights appear to be the hottest human right's entity of our times. As I sit here typing a mere three weeks before my new-year's-eve 42nd birthday, I can't help but feel concerned that time is not on my side. I cannot wait 96 years for the same equality that women celebrated this year in your Cabinet.

The good news, is that I have an interesting and exciting proposal. While Canadian's might not yet be ready to elect an openly transgender candidate, the situation with the senate presents itself a very unique opportunity. The vacancies in the senate create a huge opportunity for demographics who are under-represented in Government, to find a meaningful seat at a table where a qualified representative could add significant value.

While many people did not take Forces et Democratie seriously, this party was a lifeline for me at a time when i felt utter disgust and pessimism for the current state of Canadian politics. A party that does not have a party line, but allows their MPs to truly bring the issues of their constituents to the table, seemed like a breath of fresh air. This may be exactly what the senate needs in a time where it is dominated by old partisan hacks who have ideologies about human rights, and other issues, that are far outdated.

So I am asking you to please give serious consideration to appointing me, Jennifer McCreath, Canada's first openly-transgender federal political candidate, to the Canadian Senate.

This would be a great opportunity for you to demonstrate your commitment and leadership to the entire country that 1) you plan on taking steps to ensure that all minority groups get a seat at the table, and 2) that future senate appointments will not just go to life-long partisan Liberals.

Furthermore, let me also tell you why I, Jennifer McCreath, the person, not the trans-person, should be taken seriously as a prospective senate candidate:

I boast education, work experience, and volunteer non-profit sector advocacy and activism work that will stand up to just about anyone else who has ever sat in the senate. I hold a Bachelor degree in Administration Management from Canada's most cutting edge university - Athabasca, and I hold a College Diploma in Business Administration from Humber in Toronto.

I have over ten years of work experience in a variety of government environments - including stints with the Feds, the province of Ontario, and the Province of NL, where I have done a variety of policy and business development work. I also have tangible front-line experience in Government rolls dealing with the public, including a stint processing EI claims, and my current role in Police communications accepting 911 calls for police service. I also bring some private sector experience to the table as well, having worked in banking and retail hardware, and wholesale electronic products, among other things.

In my spare time, I co-founded St. John's Pride Incorporated, and helped turn pride week celebrations in Newfoundland from a small underground event, into a week-long celebration that involves and includes many corporate and citizen community partners. I have also undertaken significant work in the field of transgender inclusion in international sports, as I penned a non-binary-gender-inclusion policy, that was ultimately accepted and put into practice by the World Outgames in 2009 - where I also became the first formally-recognized transgender marathon runner and distance swimmer in the world. I have also written and applied a "transition in the workplace" policy, as well as have created a Resource Guide for transitioning in the province of NL. Finally, I have organized and delivered a variety of trans education and awareness events at town halls and schools all over the country.

Finally, I bring some impressive pedigree to the table. My mother spent 25 years as a senior policy adviser for the Ontario Ministry of Education, and my father spent years as a high school teacher, broadcast journalist, Human Rights adjudicator at both a Federal and Provincial level, and did a stint as an MP where he served a short stint as a Cabinet Minister under Canada's only female Prime Minister, Kim Campbell.

Perhaps the biggest challenge trans people face today, is that we are still not taken seriously by our fellow human beings. We generally possess excellent education and work experiences, and tests have shown that we generally rate high on the various aptitude and IQ tests that can be done on people. Yet, we find ourselves chronically underemployed, often living in poverty, and often deal with family and friends who abandon us. Sure, some people might question you if you were to appoint me to the Senate, but you know, I think the perfect answer, would be a great follow up to your previous answer. 2015 was a great year. But let's make 2016 even better. Why appoint a credible and experienced transgendered person to the senate? Well, It's 2016!!!!

In closing, since it is a Thursday, I am attaching a little #ThrowbackThursday photo of when we met briefly for a chat in 2012, at an event organized by the amazing Siobhan Coady, an NL Liberal who was supportive of trans people and trans issues many many years before it became on the radar of being politically correct.

Look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for taking the time to read my little e-mail.

Jennifer McCreath
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

McCreath's reaction to Trans NL Vital Stats policy receives praise!

My spur-of-the-moment comments that I post for online articles are not something I normally blog about, but this one seems to have gotten a great deal of positive reaction and response.. so here it is... The context of this post is regarding the news that Service NL has been ordered by a court to allow transgender-identified people to change their ID documents without requiring surgical procedures:

Part One:

.....I think the education system needs to a better job educating people about the difference and dichotomy between gender and sex.. I also think we need to review access, privacy, and identity proofing laws.... A fundamental value of the privacy act is to only collect, use, or disclose personal information that is absolutely necessary...

How one person sees themselves in terms of being on a masculine or feminine scale, is none of anyone's business, nor does it have anything to do with their body parts....

We used to ask parents to classify their new born babies with race, creed, and religious values... all without giving the baby a chance to grow up and decide for themselves which religion they want to practice, let alone allow them the opportunity to keep that information private....

If a trans-identified person wants to purchase liquor at a store, there is no need for the person to have to out themselves as trans when they show ID that is only needed to prove their age...

Part Two:

Also, what's being lost in the shuffle: it's nice to see some movement on ID changing policies, the health care policies still lag behind in NL. many trans folks can't find doctors willing to work with them on both trans and non-trans health matters.. furthermore, the current policies are full of red tape that actually cause the tax payers more money to help trans people, than is necessary...

Part Three:

Being trans is tough.. being trans while living in NL is even tougher.. so many trans folks leave here for a better life in Toronto or Vancouver.. I feel privileged that i have been able to make a life for myself here.... I can only hope that the day comes that we can all be treated equally and taken seriously by society and all government agencies