When Audrey Gauthier was elected president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 4041, representing Air Transat flight attendants, on November 1 she had a sense something special might have happened. Gauthier is openly transsexual, and she knew that there weren’t many other openly trans-people holding positions of power in the labour movement.
"I am the only one in Canada?" she wondered. Gauthier went to National Pink Triangle Committee, CUPE’s LGBTT rights group, and asked them to find out. They got back to her -- not only is she the first openly transsexual president of a union local in Canada, she is the second in the world.
Sexual liberation was a core principle of the social movements of the 1960s. The desire to emancipate desire was central to the belief that a new society and a new experience could be created. The United States' LGBTQ (lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans/queer) movements are often described as having begun with the Stonewall Revolt in Greenwich Village in New York City. The rebellion consisted of hundreds of gays resisting a police raid over the course of three days. In The Power of Identity, the sociologist Manuel Castells notes that there were 50 organizations for sexual minorities throughout the U.S.