Former federal Green Party candidate for Burnaby North-Seymour Amita Kuttner announced they’re running for the party’s leadership earlier this week. If elected, Kuttner will make history as Canada’s first non-binary federal party leader.
Kuttner, 29, has a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California. They ran for public office for the first time during last year’s federal election. Kuttner finished fourth, behind incumbent Liberal MP Terry Beech, NDP candidate Svend Robinson and former Conservative candidate Heather Leung.
Months before the election, during Vancouver Pride in August, Kuttner came out as non-binary, genderfluid and pansexual via a blog post. “For pride, I want to share that I am non-binary, genderfluid and feel agender a lot of the time. I am pansexual,” they wrote. “I discovered my identity over time as I watched friends come out and began to explore my own relationship [with] gender.”
During their candidacy announcement on March 9, Kuttner said in an interview with Burnaby Now that they decided to run for the party’s leadership after they received encouragement from a “large number of people.” Kuttner said, if elected, their focus will be on equity and justice, evidence-based policy and always being ready for challenges—particularly in terms of crises and breakthroughs—in the future.
Kuttner also acknowledged that the Green Party had the highest number of white candidates of any major party last election. They said the solution transcends adding more people of colour to the party’s roster of candidates.
“I think the first step is to create safe and inclusive spaces, and politics is tough for that. All the parties have got problems in terms of that,” they said. “You can’t just add people and have quotas and then get where you need to go. The work that I’ve done on diversity, I’ve learned that it really is about the space you create.”
Prior to last year’s federal election, Xtra surveyed publicly identified LGBTQ2 candidates running for a major party. We asked them questions intended to help better understand who they are, how they would describe the key issues affecting our communities and why queer and trans political representation matters. Kuttner filled out the survey. Below are some of their answers:
In your opinion, what’s the biggest issue facing LGBTQ2 Canadians right now?
Safety. Many LGBTQ2 people don’t feel safe in their communities—in spaces where people assume that everyone should and would feel safe.
What are the major issues you’re hearing about from LGBTQ2 Canadians?
Hate, and the resurgence of hate. There is especially a lack of welcome of identities outside the gender binary.
If elected, what’s the first change you’d push for LGBTQ2 Canadians—whether in your riding specifically or on a national level?
The first thing I would push for is ending the blood ban, and providing support for—and the availability of—trans and non-binary health care.
What does it mean to you to be an LGBTQ2 candidate? Why was it important for you to run?
When it comes to my identity, I do not currently feel represented at all. Among other things, it was important for me to run as there is not enough representation of LGBTQ2 concerns in policymaking.
Is there anything else you want LGBTQ2 Canadians to know about you?
I will bring the lens of gender diversity to the conversation on gender equity. I want to do whatever I can to make sure that politicians can get past the gender binary when making policies, starting with language.
In November, Elizabeth May, the party’s leader of 13 years, announced her resignation just weeks after the Green Party made history after winning three-seats in Parliament. The next leader will be challenged to keep up this momentum.
If chosen, Kuttner said they are willing to move anywhere to win a seat. Their candidacy is endorsed by politicians like Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau, Vancouver City Councillor Pete Fry and LGBTQ2 advocate Nicola Spurling. “As an LGBTQ2+ person of colour,” Spurling wrote, “Amita brings much-needed representation and I know their views to be progressive, thoughtful and based on science, facts and research.”
In addition to Kuttner, David Merner, Alex Tyrrell, Judy Green, Julie Tremblay-Cloutier and Annamie Paul are also running to become the party’s next leader. On Oct. 4, the Green Party will choose a new leader in Charlottetown, PEI.