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Making history

Hannah Hodson is looking to climb two mountains: become Parliament’s first openly transgender MP, and win Victoria for the Conservative Party.
Hannah Hodson – Headshot

Yesterday, Hannah Hodson made history. If she’s successful, next month she’ll do it again – twice.

Announced as the Conservative candidate for Victoria, Hodson is already established in the history books as her party’s first openly transgender candidate.

“I would love to be proven wrong,” says Hodson, “I would love to not be the first.”

“I'm certainly aware of the significance. But also I think it's important to realize that we're all just Canadians, we're all parts of the community, and there will be a first. Hopefully there will be many more – just like every other Canadian who's run for office.”

Though a first-time candidate, Hodson is no political novice. She’s a veteran of politics on the staff side, including – full disclosure – working directly with me for then-Premier Christy Clark. Since 2017, Hodson has worked in Ottawa, for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola MP Dan Albas. (Hodson has also been an occasional contributor to The Orca.)

Were she to win, Hodson would make yet more history. Not only the end of a long Tory dry spell in the riding, but also becoming Canada’s first openly transgender MP.

Both would be significant achievements – but Hodson is careful to separate them.

“I'm not running to be a ‘transgender MP,’ necessarily. I'm running to be the MP for Victoria.”

Canada has had transgender candidates, including at the federal level. But so far as I can tell – there may well have been others who didn’t publicly identify as transgender – very few have been elected. So few, you can count them on one hand: two provincial MLAs in Manitoba and Alberta, respectively, and one mayor of a tiny municipality in Quebec.

That would be more than enough of a challenge for anyone. But Hodson also faces a steep task in her riding.

Victoria, which includes the city and several surrounding municipalities, hasn’t elected a Conservative since 1984. It gets more grim: in the 2019 and 2015 elections, Conservative candidates both finished a fairly distant fourth.

Still, Hodson is undeterred:

“People say ridings are unwinnable, but tell that to the 2011 NDP club at McGill. A lot of them became MPs.”

“Most voters are not as ideological as pundits and people want to believe. I think most truly want to vote for what they think is the best plan, the best way forward. [I will] argue that is Canada's Recovery Plan, because I believe it is,” says Hodson.

“Things change. It’s up to me to make the case.”

Fully aware she’s going to be asked why a transgender woman is running for the Conservative Party, Hodson is emphatic:

“One thing I'm very, very passionate about is moving forward LGBTQ+ equality and rights. That's one of the big reasons, because frankly, in a lot of ways the Conservative Party is ahead, and doing better,” says Hodson, pointing to a plan to end the gay blood ban, as one example.

“The reality is that LGBTQ Canadians represent all Canadians. They're in every facet of life. They're not one kind of a person. They are parents, they are politicians, they are in all aspects of life. There are LGBTQ people in every political party.

“To hear someone say, ‘Well, this is what a trans person should be.’ Or, ‘This is what an LGBTQ person does, you're supposed to be doing this.’ No, no, no, I'm a Canadian.”

“These are my beliefs,” says Hodson. “I believe Erin O'Toole when he says ‘I want people to look in the mirror and see a Conservative.’ I think that for people say that, well, you're not supposed to be – that’s so hurtful.”

Of course, Hodson already knows exactly what it’s like to be told she’s not supposed to be something. And win or lose, there’s no supposing needed: she’s already made history.

Maclean Kay is Editor-in-Chief of The Orca