Published on February 6th, 2012 | by Wild Gender0
Repeal Floated in Response to Canada’s No Fly Rule on Gender Variance
Last week, members of the Canadian parliament contacted us regarding our article called “Canada Won’t Let Gender Variance Fly,” about a bizarre section of the Identity Screening Regulations used in airports throughout Canada that appears to ban gender-nonconforming and transgender people from boarding airplanes if their gender presentation does not match the one listed on their identification.
According to an aid in the Canadian Parliamentarian office, Olivia Chow, Member of the Canadian Parliament and Canada’s New Democrats Party (NDP), has drafted a motion that would repeal the problematic portion of the Identity Screening Regulations. The motion will be addressed at Canada’s next House of Commons Transport Committee meeting, likely to take place this week.The full text of Chow’s motion reads:
“That the Government repeals Section 5.2 (1) 3 (c) of the Identity Screening Regulations under the Aeronautics Act which were introduced in August 2011 and which states that “An air carrier shall not transport a passenger: [...] 3. C) if the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents;” as this is a severe discrimination against transgender and transsexual Canadians and a violation of their fundamental right, the freedom of movement, and that this motion be reported back to the House.”
An anonymous source who identifies themselves as a transgender Canadian Federal government employee involved with the regulations and how it applies to trans people, feels that Chow’s motion is “great but the conservative majority will most likely quash it,” they said.
For the purpose of this article, our source will be referred to as Jesse.
“In the end if you are trans and your gender differs from your perceived gender (perceived by a CBSA officer) then a medical letter is required confirming you are trans,” Jesse said. “In theory, butch lesbians or genderqueer people, or others who do not prescribe to norms would not have this medical letter (and not all trans people would either). That is the policy, but it’s not always enforced and CBSA agents would still most likely let any of these groups pass after an ‘investigation.’ Border officers are legally mandated to act with their own discretion so, that being said, people are people. Some officers are decent. Some are asshats.”
According to Jesse, the CBSA is only involved if a Canadian leaves or re-enters the country or when a foreign national enters the country. The real world application of these regulations is delegated (in some instances) to Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), the Canadian equivalent of the TSA. And CATSA in turn, for the most part, delegates their authority at each airport to a private security firm which independently hires employees who in effect are not really federal employees at all.
But Ms. Chow and her parliamentary constituents hope to iron out all these issues, while restoring rights to gender variant individuals in their newly drafted motion.
Unfortunately, according to Jesse, Canadian trans rights legislation has a history of being quashed by the conservative party. Bill C 389 which would have created charter of rights and freedoms for trans people made it through parliament but died in the Canadian senate.
“Bills or motions must pass 3 levels of reading in parliament,” said Jesse. “Once they do this, the bill goes to the unelected senate. In the end, the bill died in the senate not because of NDP’s ineffectiveness but because the conservative party called an election.”
“Two bills have been reintroduced to enshrine trans rights,” they continued. “But are most likely never going to be heard because the conservative government will vote against them.”
Olivia Chow’s motion to repeal article (c) of paragraph 5.2(1) (the transgender flight ban) was defeated in a vote of 6 to 5.
In response to her the open letter I sent Committee members, blogger Christin Scarlett Milloy received this response from MP Olivia Chow’s office:
Thank you the message to the Conservative members of the TRAN committee. Maybe you were following today’s meeting via the Parliament’s live stream: sadly, the Conservatives defeated the motion in a recorded vote. But the fight is not over. Olivia Chow and Randall Garrison, the NDP Transport and LGBT critics are discussing the next steps, including a petition to repeal this discriminatory measure.