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B.C. election: Four transgender candidates aim to make history

WATCH: The number of transgender candidates in the B.C. election race has increased from none in 2013 to four this year after an NDP transgender woman made political history last November. Tanya Beja has more on the campaign of inclusiveness.

NOTE: The names of the Green Party candidates in this story were provided by the official B.C. Green Party communications team

Four candidates are making their mark on history in the run-up to the provincial election. Morgane Oger of the NDP, Stacey Piercey of the Liberals, and Veronica Greer and Nicola Spurling of the B.C. Green Party are transgender women who are hoping to become MLAs.

“This was unimaginable two¬†years ago,” Oger, the NDP candidate for Vancouver-False Creek, said. “Until I ran, I think there had never been a transgender candidate who had made it to the ballot in Canada.”

Oger has long been an activist. She successfully fought for changes to the B.C. Human Rights Code and chaired Vancouver’s District Parent Advisory Council. And while she acknowledges that she faced more criticism as a human rights advocate than as an NDP candidate, she says her gender identity continues to attract criticism.

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“I attract a lot of negative and hateful feedback,” she said. “That hurts. It’s painful to see how regressive some people are. One would like think we have passed that stage.”

READ MORE: B.C. group wants gender removed from birth certificates in Canada

Greer is running for the B.C. Green Party in Surrey-Panorama. She says she doesn’t consider herself a pioneer, but credits many role models for breaking down barriers.

“We’ve come a long way, mainly due to people in the public eye bringing attention to transgender issues, transitioning publicly, and making it more acceptable and understood. I find that the people who are most understanding are people who have known somebody, or have somebody in the family who has transitioned.”

Greer said she has had a lifelong interest in politics and hopes to champion issues of child poverty.

“I hope to accomplish a lot for human rights,” she said. “Yes, I’m LGBT, but that doesn’t mean that that’s all my sole focus.”

While Oger recognizes that the election of a transgender MLA would be a milestone for the province, she says she hopes at some point, a candidate’s gender identity will no longer be a topic of discussion.

“My hope is that the next person who is transgender who runs doesn’t have the word ‘transgender’ in every article written about them.”

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