Today, May 17th, is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. It didn’t really occur to me until today, but I think I might be the first openly trans person to run for public office in Nova Scotia – but I would love to be proven wrong!
Before announcing my candidacy, I was nervous about promoting myself as a transgender candidate because I didn’t want my trans identity to distract from talking about issues of affordability. I’m running on an anti-poverty and anti-capitalist platform that calls for free transit, affordable housing, free recreation programs, fair wages and action from city hall on racial inequalities and climate change.
I think now, more than ever, it’s important to stress that anti-poverty issues are transgender issues. Transgender people disproportionately experience poverty. Transgender people disproportionately experience homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, and discrimination in employment, healthcare, and education. I think it’s great that Justin Trudeau is finally adding gender identity as a protected category in the Human Rights Act. It’s time and it’s necessary.
But we also need to remember that human rights laws are only one way to fight for equity. We don’t just need legal protection. We also need affordable housing, trans-friendly employers, trans-competent healthcare, and so much more.
The fight is far from over.
A couple months ago I struggled with the personal decision about whether or not I wanted to be stealth, or stop disclosing my trans identity. And then a friend of mine, a trans woman, committed suicide. I’ve known far too many trans people who have tragically taken their own lives. And in that moment it seemed to me that if being out, if being open about my trans identity, could make life even a little bit easier for someone else, than it was worth it.
I hope that this can make a difference.