Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Torbay Raises Transgender Flag to Recognize Transgender Day of Visibility

Transgender Day of Visibility is today, March 31, 2015 and in recognition of this Mayor Ralph Tapper along with Jennifer McCreath the co-founder of the East Coast Trans Alliance held a flag raising in the Town of Torbay yesterday March 30. I have to admit that until we received a letter requesting that the town participate in this event that I never heard of it. Despite that when we talked about this prior to our council meeting there was no question as to whether or not we were going to do this, it was an instant yes from those of us who were present at that meeting. The Town of Torbay was one of six communities in Newfoundland and Labrador to participate in this event and bring it to our province for the first time. The other communities committed to having a similar event are Harbour Grace, Carbonear, Grand-Falls Windsor, Gander and Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove.

This is the second time in the last year or so that the Town of Torbay has taken steps to try and show support for people in the LGBT community. During the Sochi Olympics in 2014 the town flew the Rainbow Flag for the first time to raise awareness of discrimination against LGBT people.

I am sure there may be people in our community or our province who may have reservations about this type of public recognition by our town but I believe it is long over due and a sign of changing attitudes towards LGBT people. I have to admit when I was growing up I didn't really know any openly gay people and certainly had never seen a trans person until I moved to Ottawa. I am sure that many people over the years can recall hearing or even telling jokes about gay or trans people and having a good laugh. I would hope that as people become more aware of LGBT people that our attitudes change and we become more understanding of the issues they face in their lives. I say understanding because so often I hear the words accepting or tolerant associated with LGBT people and I don't believe that is appropriate terminology. Who am I as a straight person to say to someone else I can accept you or tolerate you? Does that project to that person that we are equals? I don't think so, in my opinion it reinforces the notion that somehow we are on different levels as human beings, which I think is wrong.

Have I always felt this way about LGBT people and the issues they face? I don't know to tell you the truth however I can honestly say that I have certainly become more enlightened since meeting a lot of LGBT people over the years. One thing I can say for sure is that the more attention given to these issues the better, an open and public dialogue can only serve as a catalyst for positive change as we move forward. As a councillor in the Town of Torbay I feel that it is my responsibility to be a positive role model and be a representative for the entire community regardless of their sexual orientation or which gender that identify as. I am glad that our community is becoming a leader in our province for showing support for LGBT people and I hope it continues.

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