Thursday, February 16, 2012

MP's Response to Discrimination Against Trans People

A couple weeks ago, I tweeted about this story, which calls attention to an unbelievable section within Canada's Ministry of Transportation's Identity Screening Regulations that reads 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;

As a queer woman and partner of a trans woman, it really scares me that these regulations are in effect. I'm not okay with trans people being denied the ability to board a flight in Canada, so in addition to signing the petition that was circulating at the time I also wrote to my Liberal Member of Parliament. Despite a cacophony of voices wanting to be heard, she got back to me in good time.

I share her response here:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Ministry of Transportation’s Identity Screening Regulations, which prohibit airlines from allowing a person to board an airplane in Canada if their appearance does not match the gender on their identification. This could, as you rightly mention, lead to transgender people being banned from boarding airplanes in Canada.

This new rule is extremely alarming to me and my Liberal colleagues, and MP Justin Trudeau raised it in the House of Commons during Question Period on February 1, 2012. I am sure you will agree that the Minister’s reply was not sufficient or acceptable. Here is a transcript of the exchange:

Mr. Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, since the election, this government's lack of tolerance for our minorities has grown. A new rule prohibits airlines from allowing a person to board a plane if their appearance does not match the gender on their identification, unless they have a medical certificate. This is a direct affront to the transsexual and transgendered community, which is outraged by this minister who has introduced discrimination under the guise of security.

Why is this government obsessed with the gender of an individual, when it is their identity that matters?

Hon. Denis Lebel (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier, the security of Canada's airports is extremely important to our government. We believe that it is standard procedure for every individual who wishes to board a plane to be identified by the people at security screening. Since September 11, many screening measures have been improved, and I believe that it is normal for people checking the identification of those boarding the plane to be able to recognize them. We do not believe in half measures when it comes to air security. That is very important.

Thank you again for writing. Please rest assured that we will continue to raise this issue in the Commons and elsewhere.


If you're Canadian and you care about this (or any) issue, make your voice heard. We're stronger together.



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