Aria Ehren optimistic for LGBT rights in province, but there’s still a long way to go

In November, Alberta’s NDP government introduced Bill 7, which aims to ban discrimination against gender minorities.

Calgary transgender activist, Aria Ehren, worked with the Alberta government to draft the bill and spoke at the press conference at its unveiling.

“This is one of my proudest efforts so far and I’ll be very happy when it passes,” said Ehren.

Ehren’s passion for politics is relatively new, but she has completely immersed herself in her calling.

She participates in a queer/trans writing collective called The Queerness, where she writes about the troubles that transgendered people face in their daily lives.

Ehren has come a long way to get where she is now. While her sex was considered to be male at birth, Ehren said she struggled to understand her gender identity growing up.

“The label as a boy was not fitting,” said Ehren.

Ehren said her journey was more difficult because she lacked access to LGBTQ information and role models to guide her.

Although she had little understanding of LGBTQ issues growing up, she Ehren developed methods to teach herself and others to be a part of the community, no matter what their identity. Her desire to help the community is now branching out.

During this year’s federal election, Ehren worked with a team to create Voting While Trans – — a website and toll free information line that provides resources for transgender Canadians about voting procedures.

“I consider it to have been a very successful project,” said Ehren

Ehren said she is pleased with the outcome of the election. Ehren said she considers Liberal MP, Kent Hehr, an LGBTQ ally and she is happy he won the seat for Calgary Centre riding.

“[Hehr] has been among politicians in Alberta to be at the forefront of LGBTQ rights, including trans -rights,” said Ehren. “He’ll be a strong voice for us in the Liberal party.”

Despite this win for the LGBTQ community, Ehren says there is still a long way to go.

She says said there is a lack of policy makers who understand these issues and are willing to push them forward within government, corporations and non-profits.

As a member of the Trans Equality Society of Alberta, Ehren and her allies are educating the community about providing equity and social justice for transgendered people.

Even with the stigma around the LGBTQ community, Ehren remains optimistic in her journey to influence others to love themselves unconditionally.

“You are perfectly fine the way you are,” said Ehren. “Keep questioning. Reach out to groups because they will support you with your questioning and give you the answers you need.”

alarocque@cjournal.ca

The editor responsible for this article is Paul Brooks and he can be contacted at pbrooks@cjournal.ca