Supporting transgender individuals and their families: provincial policy leadership from Kingston to Guelph.

This weekend (February 2-4, 2018), the Green Party of Ontario is set to host a special meeting in Guelph with 170 party members from across the province. The agenda is simple: prepare to elect Ontario’s first group of Green MPPs in the provincial election, scheduled almost exactly four months from now, on June 7.

The Kingston and The Islands Green Party will play an important role at the meeting. Seven members from our team are scheduled to attend. We have proposed nine significant policies that will help make life more affordable, more sustainable and more just for the people of Ontario, especially for some our most vulnerable residents.

You can see this in our policy on providing more and improved services for transgender individuals and their families, for example.

For those who don’t know, in addition to my role as MPP candidate for our riding, I am the policy chair for our local campaign. To craft the policy in question, I read about the history of the transgender movement and met with representatives from a local nonprofit that offers support and advocacy for transgender individuals and their families. I wanted to better understand the needs of this community.

I did this because I believe that the best policy – the most effective policy and the most efficient policy – is policy that makes sense to the situation it is trying to help. Because that’s what policy should always try to do: help. Help make people more happy and healthy. Help make small businesses more profitable and principled. Help the planet survive and thrive. Help our democratic institutions relate and represent. And to do these things together.

In order to meet these goals, politicians and policymakers, like me and my team, must approach topics with care. We need to balance research in one hand and real life in the other. Research provides context based on reliable data. Real life provides compassion based on our values.

So here are the data and values articulating why we want better services for transgender individuals and their families:

  • Fifty percent of transgender Ontarians seriously consider suicide.
  • Counselling has been shown to be an important factor helping alleviate suicidal ideation.
  • There are tremendous wait times to access counselling services to deal with some of the stresses of gender dysphoria and the realities of transitioning for those in that process.
  • There are almost no counselling services to support the loved ones of those transitioning and the stresses they experience.
  • Social justice demands that we care for those in need.
  • Democratic justice demands representatives craft policy to serve their constituents.

We want to decrease wait times and increase support systems.

To get this done we have to acknowledge the complexity of the subject: we have to be careful about where we get our information, how the information is collected and question if the information can be used meaningfully in Ontario. There are also significant items to address regarding implementation and costing out of policies (check back soon for blogs talking about just that).

Simply stated, there are always many factors to consider. But reports from multinational organizations like the U.N.; internal information from government departments like Statistics Canada; publications by nonprofits and community groups like the United Way; reliable media sources like the Globe and Mail; and in-person conversations with experts and every day folks, provide nuance and shape our proposals. That was the case in this instance and will always be the case as Emily, Steve, Stephen, Karen, Colleen, Jude, Zach and I craft policy to champion the needs of Ontario’s residents, businesses, environment and institutions.
All of this to say, I am proud of the policy work of the Green Party in Kingston and The Islands. It is my hope that our policy supporting trans individuals and their family will have a positive impact on our party, our riding and our province.