Queer Ontario (QO) has invalidated the election of Jessica Freedman as one of its members at large, after a voting member complained about misrepresentation.
Freedman attended the May 25 QO annual general meeting via ustream and ran for the position using her first name of Denise. After the election, one complainant said had they known Jessica and Denise were the same person, they would have voted differently, a statement by QO chairperson Nick Mulé reads.
“We took very seriously a complaint that was brought to our attention. We determined if it had any validity,” Mulé tells Xtra. “Once we made the decision that it did have validity around misrepresentation, or possibly any kind of deception that may have happened — and that’s not to say whether there was intent involved with that or not — it was more 'so did anyone feel that they were confused by the process?' The complainant obviously did.”
After the original complainant brought the matter to QO’s attention, the organization discovered additional voting members who also said they were confused by the vote, Mulé adds.
“Then it was determined that their, meaning the complainant, calling our democratic process into question was valid and so we take that seriously. We thought the best thing we could do is invalidate that particular vote given the confusion that was caused by it,” Mulé says.
In light of the complaint, Freedman, who is the board president of PTS, clarified that Denise Jessica Freedman is her legal name and as a trans woman she retains the right to use whichever name(s) she chooses, QO’s statement continues.
The statement also notes that Freedman is generally known as Jessica in QO and other online forums.
Xtra’s attempts to reach Freedman for comment by email, through Facebook and by phone proved unsuccessful.
Mulé says this is the first time QO has encountered a name discrepancy during its election process, and adds that QO’s vice-chair Davina Hader and secretary AJ Lowik identify as trans.
Freedman is free to run for the position again at a special meeting scheduled for the fall.
“We in fact named her so it was very clear that if she opted to run again, she is welcome to that when the next vote is called,” Mulé says. “That would be up to her, of course. It will be an open call to everyone once again, to all members of Queer Ontario in good standing.”
Elected QO members at large sit on the steering committee and represent the organization’s membership.