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Green Party candidate outed on TV news broadcast

Last Updated Jun 15, 2017 at 4:14 pm PDT

BC Green Party candidate Nicola Spurling. (Photo via Twitter: @NicSpurling)
Summary

Local candidate not upset after being outed as transgender

Mix-up leads to Green candidate being called trans during evening news broadcast

COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) – She was outed as transgender during a TV news broadcast on Monday night, and now the provincial Green Party candidate for Coquitlam-Maillardville is hoping the slip-up won’t be a distraction on the campaign trail.

Nicola Spurling isn’t pointing any fingers, preferring to call it an “unfortunate miscommunication” but says there are risks to outing any transgender person.

“Trans people face a lot of discrimination in the form of bullying, violence, being denied employment, being denied housing and being inappropriately questioned on a variety of issues surrounding the transition process,” she tells NEWS 1130. “And then there is just the general feeling of being unwelcome in society. A lot of people feel like you shouldn’t exist and that is something trans people have to deal with on a daily basis.”

Global News ran a story last night spotlighting four transgender women hoping to become MLAs, including Morgane Oger of the NDP, Stacey Piercey of the Liberals, and Veronica Greer and Nicola Spurling of the BC Green Party.

A note on the station’s website says the names of the Green Party candidates were provided by the official BC Green Party communications team.

Spurling says everyone involved in the mishap is sorry it happened and she is not holding any one person responsible. “It’s just good to use this as a learning experience going forward. When releasing sensitive information about a person, you need to fully research that and reach out to that person for comment. A simple Google search of my name prior to this would have revealed that my name and the word ‘transgender’ did not come together. I think there needs to be due diligence going forward, and that’s the case for all sides here.”

She cites previous interviews with other media outlets where she had been asked if she was okay with the fact she was trans being released. “I’d said I didn’t want that to be the focus of my campaign and that’s why, up until now, I hadn’t made any public announcement about the fact I am a transgender candidate,” she explains. “That’s just part of who I am. It’s not what my campaign is about.”

Spurling admits she had assumed it would likely come out at some point during the election, and she believes that’s why her response has been fairly reasonable. “I don’t have any hard feelings. I was hoping it wouldn’t happen and it wouldn’t take the focus away from my campaign. I’m still hoping that it won’t shift the focus but I’m going to own the fact that this is my identity. I’m not going to deny it.”

The BC Greens’ communications director Stefan Jonsson says they’ve apologized to Spurling, who didn’t want that aspect of her life to distract from the campaign.

“It was a mistake. It was an assumption that we made from some of the conversations we’ve had with Nicola. It was an assumption that she had come out.”

He says they’ve since established a new policy of clearly checking with candidates to make sure their personal information is protected.