Even though I’m a little late on finding out about this, details concerning this story are a bit sketchy at the moment, and my google fu is sadly failing me to be able to find much (if any) reporting on the subject, but it appears that recent amendments to the Canadian Aeronautics Act, the laws and regulations regarding aviation in Canada, have added a regulation that permits discrimination against transgender passengers, entitling airline employees to refuse them permission to board. Specifically, this one:
Sec 5.2(1)(c) of the ID screening regs of Aeronautics Act: “An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents.”
Oh hell no, Harper.
Why is this a problem?
Well… remember all that stuff I discussed recently in regards to the problems with Sweden’s sterilization law? Canada (and the United States) aren’t a whole lot better. In order to obtain a passport with a gender marker indicating one’s identified sex, a transsexual Canadian needs to obtain an updated birth certificate. In order to obtain the updated birth certificate, you need have undergone sexual reassignment surgery (as defined, ambiguously, by the Department Of Vital Statistics for whatever province you were born in. Some provinces make this more difficult than others.)
Let’s remember again an important consideration: not all transgender people desire SRS, are able to undergo SRS, or can afford SRS.
(many Canadian provinces provide coverage for SRS under their health plan, but not all of them, and regardless there are many related expenses which are not covered, and the time off work, at the very least, is something not everyone is able to afford)
And here’s something fun: Canada’s only surgeon who performs vaginoplasty, Dr. Brassard, is located in Montreal. Meaning most of us need to fly in to have our surgery.
For domestic flights, in which a passport is not necessary, one could present a driver’s license or other form of identification card. The laws pertaining to gender markers on these forms of identification are typically not as stringent, but that is not always the case, and regardless are typically a bureaucratic nightmare.
This is all to say nothing of transgender individuals who identify outside the binary spectrum, who are going to be screwed by this no matter what.
It’s also very much worth noting that the regulation, as presently phrased, makes absolutely no definition as to what constitutes “appearing to be” a given gender. This would allow Canadian airport and airline employees to boot you off a flight even if your gender marker was updated to match your presentation just because that employee doesn’t think you pass well enough.
We would not even be able to object against such treatment on grounds of discrimination because presently, gender identity, gender expression and transgenderism are not protected statuses under Canadian human rights law. The Conservative victory during the election last May put a halt to the bill that would have introduced us to the list of protected minorities (unsurprisingly, this got virtually no coverage in the Canadian media, just like this update to the aeronautics act is being ignored).
So you know what? Fuck this law.
I can think of absolutely no reason why it needed to be included in the updated regulations anyway. No good reason except for giving the cis majority another opportunity to drive their boots deeper into our neck.
I don’t believe that was the actual intent. I don’t think the lawmakers were sitting around twirling their mustaches and going “nyahaha, how can we make things even worse for trans people!?” …instead they probably just thoughtlessly included the clause as something they thought important to the issue of people posing as other people. But that they would consider the existence of cross-dressing terrorists, but not bother considering how the law would impact real life trans citizens (or just not caring), is a glaring oversight and example of cisnormative, privileged blindness to the existence and needs of our community.
I am beyond disgusted with what Stephen Harper and his party have done to my country. And I really don’t like it when he fucks with me personally and makes my life more difficult.
Here’s a petition you can sign to make your objection known:
You can also review the regulations pertaining to passenger identity in total.
Also please, talk about this. Let it be heard. Make sure people know about it. Don’t let it be swept under the rug, like so many abuses of trans rights have been in the past.