'This is massive': Ophelia Ravencroft celebrates as 1st transgender city councillor in St. John's

·2 min read
St. John's city councillor Ophelia Ravencroft is the first openly transgender municipal politician in the capital. (Vote Ophelia for Ward 2/Facebook - image credit)
St. John's city councillor Ophelia Ravencroft is the first openly transgender municipal politician in the capital. (Vote Ophelia for Ward 2/Facebook - image credit)

Ophelia Ravencroft, the newest councillor for Ward Two in St. John's, captured over 44 per cent of the vote in this week's municipal election — almost twice that of her nearest rival.

But that's not her only win this week.

Ravencroft made history by becoming who's believed to be the first openly transgender city councillor in Newfoundland and Labrador, news she shared on Twitter immediately after the city announced her win.

"Jesus, we did it," she wrote.

The day after, she said she wanted to emphasize her trailblazing for the queer, trans and non-binary community in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"For our community, this is massive," she told CBC Radio's On The Go on Wednesday.

"Any first, any victory, and increase in visibility and acceptance, any legal win, anything like that — even if you're looking at it from the outside and your perspective is different — things like this can be earth-shattering for us."

Representation matters, and particularly so in places of traditional power, she said.

"We live in a society that has told us for so long that we belong on the margins, and that we deserve to be silenced. And over time it's incredible to watch our community push back against that much more strongly and to watch so many of those barriers be broken down."

Ravencroft made headlines in the midst of her campaign when she revealed she had encountered "direct, graphic death threats" related to her gender identity.

Despite being among the first candidates to put their name forward in 2021, she said her campaign was impeded by that harassment.

"It's been an incredibly rattling time," she told CBC in late August.

On Wednesday, she said she hoped her win shows that those intimidation and fear tactics "are not going to bring me down."

While she guarded her personal information closely during the campaign, she wasn't yet able to say how she would balance being available to her constituents while maintaining a level of safety, saying with the win so new she hadn't yet gone through any city-led orientation on her new role.

But she is ready to get to work, she said, with snow clearing "her No. 1 priority" and better mobility in general not far behind.

"When those things are there, when you have a city that can be accessed more freely, it's one that is more equitable. and it's also one that is more thriving."

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