by Donalee Moulton
Originally published: September 13, 2017
When Kael McKenzie was named to the Manitoba provincial court in 2015 his appointment was reported by CBC News, The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and numerous other media outlets. What made the seemingly routine announcement so newsworthy: McKenzie was Canada’s first self-identified transgender member of the judiciary.
While his appointment is historic, it is not what defines Judge McKenzie’s tenure on the bench. Indeed, he told The Lawyer’s Daily he cannot be a voice for the transgender community across the country. “There’s a pressure for me to be a role model, but I am a judge first. I wear the robes 24/7.”
Judge McKenzie, a member of the Manitoba Métis Nation, has known he wanted to be a lawyer since at least grade 8 when he shared his career hopes in the class yearbook. That path veered slightly as Judge McKenzie hit his teens and working with the military took centre stage. But some things never changed, he noted. “I was always interested in justice. I was always interested in fairness and equality.”