Would you vote for somebody simply because he or she is a transgender person?
Probably not, unless the candidate is a personal friend, right?
In fact, most people would think a person’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation is largely irrelevant — in Canada, anyway. Voters care more about a candidate’s political platform: how will they serve the public?
Most media outlets in Canada covering elections don’t even mention the sexual orientation of candidates, unless it is particularly relevant. But for some reason, when a transgender person is running for political office, they feel the need to trumpet the trans angle.
And they may be doing more harm than good.
For an example, take a look at an article on Yahoo News about Jennifer McCreath, running for office in Newfoundland. The headline: “Meet Canada’s only transgender federal election candidate.” As you would expect after seeing the headline, the article’s primary focus is on Jennifer’s trans status, not so much on her political campaign.
So what? , you might be asking.
Well, take a look at the readers’ comments below the article.
Here’s one by someone called Carly H, as an example:
I don’t understand why anyone would base their platform on this. I don’t care what you identify as – but what are you going to bring to the table politically? What are you going to change? What is your agenda? etc etc etc….This is like me standing up and saying “I am female and identify as female – and that is really all I have to say” – then expecting people to vote for me because of it. Your sexuality is irrelevant. I will vote for the person who best represents me – and I could care less about anything else…. — Carly H
Many of the other comments share Carly’s sentiments, and many others are clearly transphobic.
Is the article helping Jennifer’s cause?
Canadians as a whole are pretty tolerant people, but trans people shouldn’t fool themselves: a lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of transgenderism. But they might still vote for a trans candidate who has a good political platform.
But when the media make the trans angle the focus of their reports — as Yahoo and others are doing with Jennifer McCreath — they’re probably pushing voters away.
Jennifer herself worries that she won’t be taken seriously as a candidate, the Yahoo News report says — deep down in the story.
Maybe that should have been the lede of the article, right there at the top, followed by her ideas for serving the people and making that part of the world — Avalon, NL — a better place.
Moral of the story: Too much “transgender” publicity not necessarily a good thing, especially in an election campaign.
— Jillian Page, LGBT Perspectives editor
“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey