Leadership Convention Speech

(9am on September 17, 2016)

Thank you to the BC Conservative Party for allowing me to run in this election.

Today, I do not represent the 2000+ active BC Conservative Party members or the five percent of voters from the 2013 BC general election who voted for a Conservative Candidate. Rather, I represent the 95 percent of voters from across the Province who did not vote for the conservatives in 2013 who would appreciate having another option if the party addresses some of its internal structural challenges.

In my platform for this leadership election, I identify three problems that we need to address offer relevant solutions to each. I outline my platform on my website, www.jaycross.ca.

Our first problem is financial. Our Party has no money. We need money to win elections. My solution to this problem is to develop a fundraising program.

Our second problem concerns recruitment. Our Party has 2000+ members. However, 85,000 people voted for a conservative candidate in 2013. Without voters becoming members, we have no capacity for communicating or controlling our message, we lose significant membership revenue, and we lack voter input and ideas.

Lack of diversity within our party may be an explanation for why conservatives do not become Party members. Early on in this election, I learned that one of our members had left the party because the four candidates were all White. I have since met with this individual and convinced him to rejoin the Party. In fact, he has decided to run as a conservative MLA candidate in 2017. I also came across numerous newspaper articles [1,2,3] that described our Party as an Old Boys Network comprised of mainly elderly white men.

With diversity in mind, one way that I will address Party recruitment problems is to develop and implement a Diversity and Inclusion Policy. I will also see that key Party documents translated into other languages so these documents are accessible to individuals whose first language is not English.

A third problem for this Party involves retention. Over forty percent of members who join the Party leave the Party. It is difficult to grow party at that rate. Specifically, for a party of 2000 members, it will take 16–17 years to double its size.

My solution to our retention problem is to develop a member engagement program. I will also implement exit and stay interviews.

I would like to further my points on recruitment and diversity.

This year I marched and represented our Party and diversity in the 38th annual Vancouver Pride Parade. [Show audience my parade shirt with the rainbow and "Diversity Rules" emblems.] I would like to give a shout-out to the LGBTQ+ community and give thanks to the Vancouver Pride Society for putting on this event. I would also like to give a special thank–you to the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the same–sex couples that Sister Festivus Illuminata was going to marry at the Pride Festival later that day for allowing me to march with them. I felt extremely welcomed by the Sisters and the Pride Community and proud to represent the BC Conservative Party at this important event.

I think it is important for the BC Conservative Party to support diverse communities in BC. Parades and festivals are some ways that we can do that and ways of bringing our Party to the attention of people across BC.

Thank you.

Video exerpt from the 38th annual Vancouver Pride Parade, July 31, 2016 (Video Source: DaxTubeTV).

Rona Ambrose, interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, calls for all Canadians to stand up for LGBTQ+ rights on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, May 17, 2016 (Video Source: published on Youtube by LGBTory Canada.)

Updates: 2017

August 6, 2017

Through the Vancouver Pride Society, I volunteered as an MC assistant during the 39th annual Vancouver Pride Parade for the international celebrity drag queen performer Conni Smudge (aka Chris). Mz. Smudge is a highly talented individual who provided commentary on the parade floats and entertained crowds with her whit, charm, lip-synching, dancing and dynamic, unscripted, unpredictable interactions with parade participants. Although the Vancouver Pride Parade was an incredible experience in and of itself, Mz. Smudge’s performance made it even more amazing. Officially, she was a parade MC. Unofficially, she was the ambassador that day for all things good in humanity and a cross–cultural translator and promoter for numerous diverse communities — often hidden in plain sight — that many people in Vancouver were meeting for the first time. I am honored to have been Mz. Smudge’s assistant and grateful to the Vancouver Pride Society for giving me the opportunity.

During her performance, Mz. Smudge moved between the Safeway store balcony at the corner of Robson and Denman and the street. While she was at street level, I met a number of friends who were marching in the parade including several Elections BC colleagues that I had worked with on Election Day. I also got to shake hands with Reverend Mother Diversity Rains of the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (I met the Reverend Mother during my leadership campaign last year) who expressed her profound gratitude to all Vancouver Pride Society volunteers for their work in support of the Vancouver Pride Parade.

Conservative marchers at the 39th annual vancouver pride parade 2017.

A small contingent of Conservative Party of Canada and BC Conservative members march together in the 39th annual Vancouver Pride Parade, August 6, 2017. The leaders from these political parties were no–shows.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeting drag queen Connie Smudge at the 40th annual vancouver pride parade 2018.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau embracing drag queen Connie Smudge at the 40th annual vancouver pride parade 2018.

One year later … Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets and embraces parade MC drag queen Connie Smudge at the 40th Annual Vancouver Pride Parade. Justin Trudeau is one of the most progressive leaders in the world today. Connie Smudge is a major voice within the Vancouver LGBTQ+ community. (Image Source: An online Daily Mail (UK) article by Khaleda Rahman)

Updates: 2018

June 23, 2018

Through the Vancouver Pride Society, I volunteered as an assistant stage manager (ASM) for the 2018 Vancouver East Side Pride festival held at Grandview Park on Commercial Drive. The ASM role gave me a back stage pass to an afternoon of amazing live music performances by BC artists within the LGBTQ+ community, including MamaRudeGyal MTHC, Devours, HEDKS and Dia-Nos. Regrettably, I missed earlier performances by other great artists (complete list here). Fortunately, most of the artist’s music is available from Spotify. One of the most memorable acts of the afternoon was the drag performances by Tuck Entertainment (#doyoutuck). These incredible, extremely well choreographed lip–sync acts by local drag artists left the crowd mesmerized and wanting more. One of the artists had suffered a serious knee injury before the show, but went on stage anyway (cane in hand) and gave a great performance. The musical artistry at the festival was almost non–stop. During set changes, professional dancers from Vancouver’s Dance in Transit invited audience members to dance to BollyX and Zumba music at the front of the main stage. African–Canadian singer–songwriter–musician Tonye Aganaba hosted the stage show. In my opinion, Ms. Aganaba’s wit, charm, and powerful sultry singing voice put an already amazing show over the top. Thank you Adrian (Pride Society organizer) for giving me the ASM opportunity and Bijan (stage manager) for showing me the ropes. I highly recommend the East Side Pride festival to anyone looking for a great time among some incredible people.

Tuck Entertainment drag artist Mimi Anmormi.

Vancouver drag queen artist Mimi Anmormi (Colin Simister). Mz Anmormi was part of a group of highly talented Tuck Entertainment drag artists that performed at the 2018 Vancouver East Side Pride festival (Image Source: Tuck Entertainment twitter account.)

African-Canadian singer-songwriter-musician Tonye Aganaba.

Tonye Aganaba, MC extraordinaire for the 2018 Vancouver East Side Pride festival stage show (Image Source: Photo by Liz Rosa for Tonye Aganaba’s R&B/Soul album, “Villain,” available from Apple iTunes.)

Vancouver’s Dance in Transit, 2018 Vancouver East Side Pride festival (Video Source: published on Youtube by Sam’s Dance.)

Commentary: As I was leaving the festival, I noticed makeshift signs displaying the words “de–gendered washroom” on the entrances to the Park’s male and female washrooms. This simple (re)signage act by the organizers was a brilliant reminder that individuals are significantly more complex in their sexuality, gender identity and gender expression than the biological sex assigned to them at birth. De–gendering the public washrooms was also a great way for the Vancouver Pride Society to make the festival as inclusive as possible and to promote safety when more than one gender share the same washroom space. Finally, making the Park’s public washrooms gender neutral is in line with recent washroom signage changes implemented in varying degrees by a number of municipalities across BC and Canada [1,2,3,4,5,6,7], as well as new architectural models of universal single– and multi–user washroom (and change room) design which emphasize privacy, safety, and efficiency to achieve inclusivity and gender parity [8,9,10,11,12,13]. It is noteworthy that states like California and Vermont have adopted legislation that requires all public single–occupancy washrooms to have gender–neutral signage. Canada will likely adopt similar legislation one day, complementing important recently added protections for gender identity and gender expression to BC and Canadian human rights laws. Sex–segregated public washrooms are a vestige of the 19th century separate spheres ideology, a sexist way of thinking that has long been discredited [see recent publications by University of Utah Law Professor Terry Kogan]. Critics of de–gendering public washrooms — in this current 21st century — often base their arguments on the separate spheres perspective and ignore innovative architectural advances in washroom design (Other critics confuse cause and effect and make unfounded assumptions.) In time, Canada will end the sex segregation of its public washrooms. Until then, we should applaud groups like the Vancouver Pride Society for de–gendering the Park’s washrooms and moving us closer to a solution. Adding token single user gender–neutral washrooms or washroom signage that further highlights differences between genders (municipal level solutions) misses the big picture and may be counterproductive.

Stalled gender– neutral washroom design prototype.

The award–winning, open–source “Stalled” prototype for an inclusive public multi–user bathroom design that emphasizes safety, privacy, and efficiency (Image Source: A dezeen magazine article by Dan Howarth, June 22, 2018.)

CKNW Logo Steele & Drex

University of Utah Law Professor Terry Kogan on

“The Sexist Origins of Gender–Segregated Bathrooms.”

(May 10, 2016)

July 12, 2018

I attended a two-hour Vancouver Pride Society volunteer training session at the Roundhouse community centre in Vancouver. Adrian, the Pride Society Organizer, hosted the event. The training session covered topics like volunteer code of conduct, dress code, and protocols for handling stressful situations (e.g., medical emergencies, lost children, demonstrators, etc.). We learned that LGBTQAI2S+ is an acronym used within the Pride Society and community. It stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer (or questioning), asexual (or ally), intersex, two-spirit, and other or undecided. The training session emphasized the multidimensional aspects of gender at the individual level. Adrian handed out the well-known Gender Unicorn Infographic, a teaching tool developed by Trans Student Educational Resources (TSER) to help young people learn about gender. The Infographic brings together five distinctive aspects of gender — gender identity, gender expression, sex assigned at birth, physical attraction, and emotional attraction. According to the creators of the instrument, everyone has these five elements. TSER constructed the Infographic to capture as much variation as possible. Rather than measuring gender identity, gender expression, physical attraction, and emotional attraction along a single continuum with bipolar opposites, TSER splits these elements into their polar opposites and measures them separately. For example, TSER splits gender expression into feminine and masculine sub-scales. Thus, an individual can be high or low on both femininity and masculinity at the same time. In addition, an “other gender/other” scale is included with each element to register responses that may fall outside of the polar sub-scales.

Commentary: The TSER Gender Unicorn Infographic is a great example of intellectual innovation and engineering. The team at TSER that created the Infographic clearly put a lot of thought and time into their work. In my opinion, however, if the model is to find use other than a teaching tool, three things need to happen. First, TSER would need to identify a theoretically meaningful umbrella construct or handle that links the five core gender elements together. Construct terms like the “Gender Nexus” or the “Gender Superstructure” (GENS as an acronym for both) are possible examples. Second, TSER would have to demonstrate empirically that the GENS (or some version of it) has 5 to 13 dimensions and is able to distinguish between all known trans* and non-binary populations. For example, New York City’s Commission on Human Rights officially recognizes 31 genders and the BC Government recognizes 15 gender identities. Third, the Gender Unicorn model has competitors (see infographic example below). Competition is normal to the development of any science. However, for the Gender Unicorn model to become the leading perspective on how we understand gender (or the GENS), TSER would have to show empirically that it is a better measure of reality than its competition.

In addition to teaching us about gender using the Gender Unicorn Infographic, the Pride Society’s training also covered rules of interpersonal and physical contact. Adrian advised that if we are not sure about what pronoun to use when talking to someone at Pride events, either ask them or refer to them in gender-neutral terms. As well, if you want to shake someone’s hand, give a hug, fist bump, etc., you first need to get the individual’s permission (e.g. “May I give you a hug?”). Other organizations that rely on volunteers have installed similar rules for physical contact (e.g. the Canadian Red Cross trains first aiders to get consent, if possible, before giving care.)

The Vancouver Pride Society is striving to be as inclusive as possible at its events. In 2017, it released a sixteen page report based on a lengthy consultation process with community members. The report summarizes the feedback the Society received and discusses strategies that it intends to implement to improve its services.

North America is undergoing a paradigm shift in the way it thinks about sex and gender. The Vancouver Pride Society and Trans Student Educational Resources are cutting-edge facilitators at the forefront of this transition. The volunteer training that I received from the Pride Society was excellent. The course was comprehensive and left me with a lot to think about.

The gender unicorn infographic produced by Trans Student Educational Resources.

The Gender Unicorn Infographic

(Image Source: The Trans Student Educational Resources website.)

Gender Spectum figure included in a July 2016 report to Vancouver City Council.

An infographic included in a July 2016 Consultants report to Vancouver’s City Council. The infographic offers a slightly different model of the gender nexus/superstructure than the one proposed by TSER. The Consultants appear to have based their model on v1 of the Genderbread Person, a competitor to the Gender Unicorn model.

August 5, 2018

I carried the territorial flag for Canada’s Northwest Territories in the 40th Annual Vancouver Pride Parade. Being part of a contingent of flag bearers at the start of the parade (just behind the traditional leader, Dykes on Bikes) was an amazing experience. The crowds along the route were in the thousands and excited to be there. On one occasion when the parade stopped briefly, a little girl from the First Nations approached me and asked if she could hold the flag. I gave it to her with minor hesitation (her safety was my #1 concern) and saw a look of awe and wonderment on her face, and then a great big smile. It was great to see drag queen Connie Smudge again as we passed the corner of Robson and Denman. The warmth and positivity that emanates from Mz. Smudge is legendary. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was about 10 minutes behind us. When he reached Mz. Smudge, he embraced her. In doing so, he sent a clear message to the world: Canada is an open society with a democratically elected government that stands up for and protects basic, universal human rights and individual freedom. During the parade, I wore a baseball cap with a San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge emblem. The emblem seemed appropriate, given that San Francisco was one of the first cities in North America to host a Pride Parade when the parades first started in 1970. When I finished the parade route, I swung back to help the Vancouver Pride Society Green Team. Thank you to the Vancouver Pride Society for allowing me to participate in the Pride Parade this year.

Flag bearers at the front of the 40th Annual Vancouver Pride Parade, August 5, 2018 (Video Source: Exerpt from a Youtube video of the parade filmed by Traxstars Entertainment Inc.)

LGBTQ+ rainbow Pride flag

LGBTQ+ rainbow Pride flag

Transgender Pride flag

Transgender Pride flag

40th annual Vancouver Pride Parade route map.

Route Map for the 40th Annual Vancouver Pride Parade emailed to the parade volunteers by the Vancouver Pride Society.

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