A woman hoping to be the next lord mayor of Hobart says she recalls being “very frustrated” when she sent an email to a non-binary councillor and candidate, in which she claimed to “identify as a frog”.
- A non-binary Hobart councillor says they were offended by an email sign-off claiming the writer identified as a frog
- The two-year-old email has resurfaced during a local election campaign the parties are contesting
- Mayoral candidate Louise Elliot says she believes everyone is equal and she was frustrated when she sent the email
The person it was addressed to says the moniker was hurtful and shows a lack of understanding of gender issues.
Louise Elliot is one of eight candidates running for the position of lord mayor of Hobart in this month’s council elections.
On Saturday Zelinda Sherlock, a Hobart councillor and a candidate, circulated an email of Ms Elliot’s, dating back to September 2020.
She said she has publicised it now because Ms Elliot is running for public office.
The email, which has been seen by the ABC, is addressed to councillor and candidate Jax Fox, who is non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them. The 11 other councillors are cc’d in.
Ms Elliot’s email addresses her concerns with Councillor Fox’s “derogatory” views on landlords and tenants.
Ms Elliot then goes on to sign off as “Kermit (Louise) Elliot” with the tag (“riddup – I identify as a frog”).
Councillor Sherlock then replies and questions Ms Elliot about the sign-off.
“I am wondering what the closing signature refers to?” she asked.
“Are you saying you identify as an animal Louise? (I mean not a human one, but an amphibious one?)
Ms Elliot responds by saying it was a “personal and private matter”.
“Are you questioning my gender identity — for your own curiosity — and involving several councillors to witness this discussion?”
“I certainly hope this isn’t the case as I would find that very distressing, humiliating.
“I would never seek to interrogate anyone else on such a personal and highly irrelevant issue, especially in a group setting.”
‘It hurts’: Councillor questions queer attitudes
Councillor Fox said on Saturday that the email was an obvious indication of where Ms Elliot’s stands on transgender and queer issues.
“Obviously, [to Ms Elliot], we are not people who are deserving of the same level of respect as cisgender and heterosexual members of society, which is obviously incredibly offensive,” they said.
“Having seen the consequences of these kinds of views firsthand to people that I care about and know, it hurts.”
When asked about her initial reaction to the sign-off Ms Sherlock said she was “extremely shocked”.
“At the time that the incident occurred, I didn’t know that the candidate was standing for the top job, and also to represent the community,” she said.
“The reason why I’m bringing this to light is that transparency matters, human decency matters and community matters.
“If you’re seeking to represent the community, one of the cornerstones, the core values of that is to actually represent everyone in the community.”
‘Everyone is equal’
Ms Elliot did not deny sending the emails, but said “the context is important”.
“I recall being very frustrated by the ongoing cruel, divisive and unfair labelling coming from Cr Jax [Fox] which prompted me to email them after yet another of these offensive remarks,” she said.
“I don’t recall my thought process around my specific choice of words given it was over two years ago.
“I do note, however, that I did not call anyone names or make horrible statements about others, unlike Cr Fox.”
Ms Elliot also pointed out that the email is over two years old.
“It’s clear that some councillors are worried about losing their seat and are scraping the bottom of the barrel to try and discredit me and bring attention to themselves,” she said.
Ms Elliot also rejected Councillor Fox’s suggestion that she didn’t believe transgender people were equal.
“I strongly believe that everyone is equal, regardless of their gender, sex, sexual orientation or any other attribute,” she said.
“We all deserve to live in a welcoming, safe and fair world.”