Ottawa city councillor Catherine McKenney has taken to social media this week, to call-out online trolls after receiving a particularly nasty email at work. Tweeting parts of the hateful email, McKenney asked Canadians to "pause to think" about the impact of homophobic and transphobic comments on LGBTQ people. Catherine McKenney's hate mail has since drawn condemnation from several leading politicians, including Ottawa MP Catherine McKenna.
Catherine McKenney, who identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns "they" and "them," took to Twitter on Tuesday, to post a short snippet of an abusive email that they’d recieved from a stranger earlier that day.
Sharing the message with their 11,600 followers, McKenney explained, “Just in case anyone thinks there isn’t more work to do, especially for queer youth & others struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity....an email I received to my City account ...”
In the email, the stranger writes, "I am not sure what salutation to use as I am not sure what sex you are. Every time I see a picture or video of you I am convinced that there are actually three sexes."
The email goes on, "I know of males and females. What, exactly, do they call your sex?"
While McKenney said they were initially upset by the email, the thought of how this type of hate-speech affects young LGBTQ people was more important to them.
McKenney told CBC News, "I can brush it off ... I've got a lot of privilege, I've got a lot of support and encouragement from my community ... But what really upsets me is what that kind of language and what that kind of attitude does for someone who's vulnerable."
McKenney isn’t the only Ottawa politician to have suffered at the hands of online trolls. Ottawa MP Catherine McKenna has criticized online bullies in the past, having personally received abusive comments, nasty remarks and even death threats during her time as a Canadian MP.
Reaching out to McKenney on Twitter, McKenna wrote, "This isn't okay. This kind of language and behaviour has no place in our community. From one Catherine in Ottawa Centre to another, thanks for all you have done and continue to do to make this a more vibrant and inclusive place to live."
Shortly after, McKenney responded to their own original tweet, simply adding, “I’ll leave my response here: You always have the option of not bothering to being in touch at all? Respectfully, Councillor McKenney.”
McKenney told CBC News, "I think about queer kids, you know, they have such a high rate of suicide. They often can be without any support, and what that [the email] could do to somebody ... It could be devastating for them."