Candidates tackle gay health issues

October 5, 2008

An event I recently participated in, where, as a trans person, I was not particularly welcomed.

I know those participating on the platform, the questioners, candidates–except the Green–and the hosts. I have educated, struggled with and/or against everyone, sometimes for years. Yet it remains unthinkable any transperson, certainly not this transperson would ever be part of such an event–certainly not a ‘gay and lesbian’ event.

Even though trans people are part of everything each of the questioners asked–we remain invisible, even explicitly erased, not because of our sexual orientation, which is the same as any cissexual person’s, but because our gender identity makes us invisible to those who organize such events.

They know, but present a very clear case of double think.

The Associate Publisher of Capital Xtra made this very clear in his introduction.

UPDATE: There has been some concern regarding the paraphrase of Paul Dewar, the NDP candidate, below my quote below. I do not believe the paraphrase is accurate. I have known Paul since before he was nominated to run for the NDP in the last election.

I have had an ongoing dialogue with Paul since before he was nominated to run and simply do NOT believe he would ever say anything of the sort the paraphrase indicated.

Paul is NOT transphobic.

I have been contacted by Paul’s campaign which has also assured me of this.

My request through a number of years to him–as to all allies–is that he must speak out, make trans human rights the same routine speaking point as equal marriage has been.

This piece seems to have been the only coverage of the event, which simply shows there is much distance to go not only for the issues I advocate, but for those of ALL GLBT people.

The New Democratic Party has an extensive policy regarding GLBT people that doesn’t bury gender identity/expression under sexual orientation. In recent days, a request to all parties from a member of the community regarding this seems to have received a rapid response from the Green Party. The NDP has nothing to be ashamed about in terms of adopted policy–but it must speak out.

I believe the NDP, particularly Bill Siksay and Cheri di Novi are not part of the problem. I believe that Penny Collenette of the Liberal Party is not part of the problem. I believe that Jen Hunter of the Green Party is not part of the problem.

If I could wish for something good to come out of this, it is that there be more profile for the issues I advocate, that they break through the “membrane”  some persons and some organizations have established which stands in the way of achieving the necessary and legitimate goals transpeople seek.

Centretown News, Canada

Wednesday, 01 October 2008

By Toni Petter

Federal election candidates in Ottawa Centre said health issues are at
the forefront of the battle for gay liberation and sexual freedom
during a public forum Tuesday at the Ottawa Public Library.

In the past, issues related to queer health have been in the
spotlight, from harm reduction to the gay blood donor ban, but these
issues have only made a miniscule impact on the the current election
campaign, said Marcus McCann, associate publisher at Capital X-tra, a
sponsor of the forum along with Egale Canada.

“This is a chance for candidates to explain their position on issues
of importance to our community. It is also a chance for our community
to share our views with the candidates,” said McCann when addressing
the audience.

“Four candidates were invited and I don’t want to make much of this,
but we are here to debate queer health issues,” McCann said in
introducing the NDP, Green and Liberal candidates in attendance.
Conservative candidate Brian McGarry did not attend.

“It is very much like not having the elephant in the room,” said
Liberal candidate Penny Collenette, commenting on McGarry’s absence.

Activists in Ottawa’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and
questioning community posed questions on federal health policy
concerning AIDS funding, safe injection sites and the possible
decriminalization of sex work and HIV transmission.

Some the candidates agreed that many federal regulations affecting the
GLBTQ community were discriminatory. But all were especially
passionate about the Canadian Blood Services policy that prevents a
male who has had sex with a male since 1977 from donating blood and
the five-year waiting period on the donation of organs from a gay

“Not only is this discriminatory, but we are actually denying people
organs,” said NDP candidate Paul Dewar. “There is no science for

Both policies were put in place by “stealth” Conservative governments,
said Collenette, who proposed the screening process for donors assess
behavioural risk instead of stereotyping.

“As a Canadian, I am disgraced and disgusted,” said Green Party
candidate Jen Hunter, who questions what happened in Canadian society
for the vitality of homosexuals to be suppressed through the letter of
the law.

In response to panelist Nicholas Little’s question about the
possibility of establishing a safe injection site in Centretown,
Hunter said the gay community should be honoured for their pioneering
work with harm reduction, while Collenette said that in addition to a
safe injection site, rehabilitative treatment was also important.

But, it was Dewar’s response that solicited audience reaction. He said
Centretown would have a site similar to the Vancouver site: “As soon
as we get rid of this government.”

The crowd applauded. “Ditto,” added Hunter.

Audience member Jessica Freedman, a transsexual female, said because of her sexuality she is an invisible person in this country who does not have human rights.

“I am asking all of you tonight to commit to advocate because until
the profile is raised the health and the well-being of transsexual and
transgendered people will continue to be ignored and as far as most of
us can tell, who cares.”

Dewar said society hasn’t reached the point where it should recognize everyone.

“These are real issues that effect real people.”

Copyright (c) 2008 Centretown News Online