Hello Canada. I think this one is probably a false alarm, but I’d appreciate some feedback all the same.
It began this morning when I found an alarming note in my Twitter feed about the Canadian government banning trans people from flying into or out of the country. These days, of course, I am way too suspicious to take any alarms on Twitter at face value, so I researched the story. As far as I can see, this is largely a question of sloppily worded regulations and, given that they have been in force for 5 months now, if they were being implemented in a problematic way then I think we’d have heard about it. At the very least, Mercedes Allen would have written about the issue. But all is quiet, so I’m guessing that Canadian officials are being sensible about the whole thing.
The regulations in question are those pertaining to identity screening at airports. You can read the whole thing on the Department of Justice website, but the salient sections are as follows:
5.2 (1) An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if
(c) the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents;
I don’t think that this was deliberately drafted to target trans people. I suspect it is a product of that fashionable Western conservative paranoia about those Muslim women with the all-encompassing clothing actually being male terrorists in disguise. Because that’s totally what they’d do in a James Bond movie, or an episode of 24, right? Quite why any sane terrorist would dress as a woman and then present his own passport is a mystery me to, but there you go.
I note also that, under the regulations, airlines should deny boarding to anyone who doesn’t look like they do in their passport. So Canadian women, be very wary about getting your hair re-styled or colored. And men, try not to go bald in a hurry. (Yes, I know I’ve just been gender essentialist there. Please add suitable exceptions.)
The problem, as I’m sure that you are all aware, is that people undergoing gender transition, people who have transitioned but elected not to have surgery, and people who are not binary-identified, can appear of indeterminate gender, or of a different gender to that of their passport. And with the new fashion for perv scanners and security groping such people are liable to be detected even if their outward gender presentation matches their ID. As there haven’t been any high profile cases, I suspect that the authorities are being understanding.
The main reason I took an interest is that, as I have a pile of frequent flier points left, I am hoping to go to Toronto for World Fantasy this year. I don’t want to end up being denied permission to board. Given that I’m post-op, hopelessly girly, and have both a passport and a birth certificate stating that I’m female, I don’t think I’ll have a problem. But I’m writing about the issue anyway, partly to highlight how thoughtlessly such regulations get drafted, and partly just in case things are worse and I just haven’t heard about them.
Update: As if by magic, Mercedes posted today. She’s likely to be the best source of information on this issue.