Public Eye: Maddie Finkle, 18, LGBT canvasser

An advocate for LGBT issues explains why sidewalk canvassers deserve some sympathy
By Jake Malooley |

Maddie Finkle, 18
Michigan Avenue and Huron Street

What’s up? I’m a canvasser for an LGBT social cause. I have to make $480 today or I’m fired. That’s more than I’ve ever made in a day, so basically I’m out of a job. Like, $380 is the highest I've made in a day. My daily quota is $205. I’m behind this week and I was behind last week, so I’m gonna quit before they fire me. I’m good at this, but it’s just been sooo cold outside and people don’t want to stop. I think they should give me a break because of the weather.

Have you ever been tempted to put in your own money—to, basically, buy your employment?
Yeah. I actually tried to get some family members to donate today. I don’t think I’m getting any help.

How did you get involved in advocating for LGBT issues? Well, I’m transgender. I’ve been living as a woman for four years. I’m also homeless right now and I needed a job. I’m from Oak Park, but my parents don’t want me there. My step mom really hates me and it was kind of me or her. Right now, I’m crashing with my human sexuality professor from last semester, but that’s temporary. She’s really nice and has an extra room. She calls it “the house for wayward queers.” [Laughs]

Do you understand why people get annoyed at canvassers?
I do. But understand: We are working for a good cause. My organization is trying to get a bill passed that will end employment discrimination for transgender people. I was fired when I transitioned on a job. They were really weirded out by my transition, but I wasn’t going to stop. I’ve been on testosterone blockers and estrogen for four months and it’s great. When I was first transitioning, I would often get jumped and harrassed. Now I carry three self-defense weapons: pepper spray, a knife and a police-style club.

But, obviously, transitioning is worth the danger. I’m following what I want to do. It doesn’t matter what people say to me. I blow it off. I’m accepting myself and I feel a lot better now that I can be the person I want to be.