Morgane Oger, Ken Denike tear at each other over transgender concerns in Vancouver

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      Well at least they’re promising that they can work with each other.

      That is if they’re elected as trustees of the Vancouver school board.

      But for now, as candidates in the October 20 civic election, Morgane Oger and Ken Denike are happy to make it known that they don’t agree with each other.

      Oger, a transgender woman, starts by recalling that Denike and Denike’s associate Sophia Woo, who is also a candidate for education trustee, were both on the school board in 2014, and the two voted against updates to the district’s policy around sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

      Oger then went on to point out that Denike and Woo are running as candidates with Coalition Vancouver, the party whose mayoral candidate is former Vancouver South MP Wai Young.

      As for Young, Oger noted that the former Conservative MP voted against a private member’s bill that sought to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination.

      “I’m mindful of the fact that Ken Denike and Sophia Woo, who both fought hard against SOGI policies are in the same party that…is led by mayoral candidate Wai Young, and Wai Young, when she was a member of the Conservative Party, she voted against extending explicit protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression,” Oger told the Georgia Straight by phone.

      “She voted against Bill C-279 in parliament, so I’m a little bit horrified that in Vancouver in 2018, we have at least three candidates who actively… participated in an effort to oppress, like, me and my family and my friends, you know, people in my community.

      “It’s really offensive to me that people who have done this are running as candidates in 2018 in Vancouver,” Oger said. “I think it’s shameful.”

      Like Oger, Denike and Woo may win in the election.

      “If Ken Denike and Sophia Woo are elected, then of course I will have to work with them,” Oger said.

      Denike says the same thing.

      “We do what we do,” Denike told the Straight in a phone interview.

      As for Oger’s alarm over the fact that he, Woo and Young are running for public office, Denike indicated that that is a stretch.

      As Denike put it, Oger is “drawing a very long bow there”.

      “For what? In what way?” Denike asked about Oger's concerns.

      Denike explained that all school districts in the province are now required to include SOGI in their policies around anti-bullying.

      The province’s curriculum also includes topics related to gender, identity, diversity, and human rights.

      “Trustees are in a sense contactors for the programs and whatever is set out by the provincial government,” Denike said.

      Denike also countered that he and Woo didn’t actually oppose the updates made by the school board to the district’s SOGI policy in 2014.

      “What we were concerned about was that the public and the people who were opposed and concerned about it did not have the opportunity to address the issues,” Denike said.