The results are in, and it’s a historic win for LGBTTI rights. On November 1 Audrey Gauthier was elected president of CUPE 4041, representing Air Transat flight attendants based in Montreal. She becomes the first openly trans person elected president of a local in Canada.
While she’s proud of the accomplishment, Gauthier believes the membership chose her because she can help unite them.
“I’m proud to be the first transsexual member elected president of a local, and for LGBTTI rights it’s something that’s important, but our members don’t really see me as different. They just see me as a woman, period,” said Gauthier.
“I was elected to unite people. My goal is to build a strong relationship between the local and our component.”
Building relationships was a theme Gauthier and others wanted to develop even during the local elections. Gauthier narrowly beat out a slate of candidates that included a friend and coworker, Veronique Bond, who finished second.
“It was difficult because we were friends and we wanted to remain friends. So we set out to make this election different. At national convention Veronique and I sat together, and people were very surprised,” said Gauthier.
“Apparently we made a statement just by doing that, but I think it’s normal. We’re coworkers. She could save my life one day on a plane and I could do the same for her, so for me it’s kind of natural to be that way.”
While she knows she was elected to do a particular job, Gauthier acknowledges that her own experiences and her transition influenced her decision to run.
“I was turning 44, I was a new woman, and I wondered if my previous choices as a man were still okay for me as a female. But I have a deep sense of social justice — equity for everyone. I’ve always believed we all deserve to be treated equally, even before my transition.”
Gauthier’s win came just weeks before the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, marked every year on November 20 to remember those around the world who have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence, and to reflect on transgender struggles and accomplishments.