Councillor posts hateful email to 'give people pause'

Coun. Catherine McKenney has tweeted the text of a hateful email from a stranger to "give people pause to think" about the potential impact of homophobic and transphobic acts, especially on young LGBTQ people.

"I am not sure what salutation to use as I am not sure what sex you are," the email reads. "Every time I see a picture or video of you I am convinced that there are actually three sexes. I know of males and females. What, exactly, do they call your sex."

McKenney, who identifies as a "trans non-binary" city councillor, has asked to be identified with pronouns "they" and "them."

The email, which came from someone whose name McKenney said they recognized but don't know personally, arrived at 12:26 p.m. Tuesday.

McKenney told CBC News when they first opened the email it left them "deflated," but that quickly changed to anger when they thought about how the words could impact someone in a more vulnerable position.

'Devastating' for queer kids

"I can brush it off ... I've got a lot of privilege, I've got a lot of support and encouragement from my community, the broad community," McKenney said.

"But what really upsets me is what that kind of language and what that kind of attitude does for someone who's vulnerable."

Among those most vulnerable are young people struggling with their self-identities, McKenney said.

"I think about queer kids, you know, they have such a high rate of suicide. [They] often can be without any support, and what that would do to somebody, and how that could sit with somebody. It could be devastating for them."

McKenney said they do occasionally receive homophobic notes from strangers, particularly when working on controversial city files, but this email seemed to "come out of the blue."