Anna Murphy said an increasing number of Calgarians aren’t seeing themselves represented in local government.
That’s why Murphy, a Calgary LGBTQ2S+ community advocate and activist, is putting her name on the ballot for Calgary’s 2021 municipal election. She wants to be the first transgender woman in office for the city.
Initially set on launching her campaign during this week, which is the 30th anniversary of Calgary Pride, Murphy’s run is backed by a desire to be an example for gender diverse individuals and marginalized people in the city.
“There are people trying to see themselves reflected in the world, or they’re trying to see that the world is representative of them,” said Murphy. “And maybe right now, they’re not seeing that.”
While there are currently LGBTQ2S+ members on city council, including Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas, there has never been a transgender person on council.
Murphy hopes to create a sense of normalcy about transgender individuals in politics and in the mainstream.
“Rather than viewing it as being different, I want it to be quote, unquote, normal,” said Murphy.
Murphy is a lifelong Albertan, who was born in the town of Wainwright, Alta., and spent her childhood in rural towns in the province.
Growing up, Murphy split her time between Bonnyville, Alta., Wainwright, Alta., and Maple Creek, Sask.
While life in rural Alberta was not easy for Murphy, she credits her upbringing for who she is today.
“I’ve experienced pretty much the worst of the worst in terms of transphobia,” she said.
“I can remember going into school and being bullied relentlessly for being gay at the age of 12.”
That built in a steely resolve, Murphy said.
“But it has made me who I am today,” said Murphy. It has provided me with grit, perseverance and determination.”
No longer ‘An old boys club‘
Beyond issues that she faces as a transgender woman, Murphy believes that cisgender women also have a difficult time in politics.
“There are some who have these outdated views that politics is an old boys club,” she said.
“I’m sure there are some that think a woman, whether you’re cis or trans, their view is that if you’re a woman, your place in the kitchen.”
Although Murphy believes that Calgary gets painted with this brush of being conservative in the politics and in their thinking, she credits the city for its sense of community and inclusion.
“Calgary has been where I have found community,” said Murphy.
“Calgary has been where I have found success, where I’ve been able to grow as an individual.”
Because of this inclusivity and sense of togetherness, Murphy believes that now is the time for someone like her to represent Calgary on council.
“The door has never been more-wide open for something, or rather someone bold,” she said.
“I think Calgary is ready.”
An every day citizen
Murphy is running in Ward 8, a riding that she believes is an accurate representation of Calgary.
“I think that it is a great authentic representation of who we are as Calgary, we have it all,” she said.
“You get students, you get new families, you get new immigrants, you get everything in one day.”
An unpolitical advantage
Murphy is not a career politician, and she maintains that it’s an advantage for her.
“I absolutely am not a career politician,” said Murphy. “I would argue that it’s in my favour.”
She said she’s an everyday Albertan who just wants to represent the interests of the people of the city.
“I would argue that most politicians have a certain level of privilege, and they’ve never had to experience some of the barriers and challenges which are facing our community in Calgary,” said Murphy.
Murphy went through training with AskHerYYC. It’s a program that works to support gender balanced and inclusive representation in municipal government. They want to get more women elected to Calgary’s City Council.
She also has a number of work and volunteer experiences that she maintains will make her a viable candidate.
Murphy’s served as Director of Business Development, a committee member and volunteer coordinator for various non-profits in Calgary.
“Through those roles, I was able to advocate and influence and help bring forth strong positive change within Calgary. And, in fact, throughout the province, for LGBTQ plus individual with a focus on breaking down barriers for transgender and gender diverse Albertans,” said Murphy.