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Update 2: Tabatha Southey, writing for the Globe and Mail, has put together a really insightful editorial on this issue.

In the last line of the articles she states

Let’s allow a transgender woman, for example, regardless of which private medical procedures she has undergone, to mark her passport “F,” and go on.

She is exactly right, given the present system that we work under. However I have to point out that ultimately I think the real solution is that gender markers should be removed from identification entirely. Otherwise, I think that problems like this will always arise, somehow or other.

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Update: So it seems there are some scattered reports showing up of trans people facing hassle based on these regulations. I want to emphasize that the regulations should definitely go. I think it would be helpful though if we had all those stories together about people being hassled before taking everything public.

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Yesterday a story suddenly broke in Toronto’s trans community: pre-op and non-op trans people would be immediately banned from flying! Indeed there is a quite troubling passage of Canada’s Identity Screening Regulations that reads

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;

When this came to light, social media went ablaze with stories that trans people would be immediately banned from flying. However, it turns out that this problematic section of the regulations was apparently added July 29th, 2011. Personally, I am a non-op trans woman and I have boarded multiple international flights from Canada since that time with no problem.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these regulations should not be challenged; in fact, we must challenge them. However, before making dramatic over-statements about the issue or drafting petitions over it, let’s take a moment and think about what’s really going on here.

For one thing, let’s think about what demographic most often gets banned from planes in North America. Here’s a hint: it’s not usually trans people. *

Air Canada flight: approach with cautionI called the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) [1 888 294 2202] to ask about the regulations. The person with whom I spoke stated that CATSA checks an individual’s boarding pass and that the boarding pass does not have a gender marker on it, which is certainly true.

My suspicion about this type of regulation is that probably it’s the kind of thing that rarely gets enforced when a privileged white trans person like myself visits the airport. That of course does not mean that we should not fight it; on the contrary, if gender non-conforming individuals from vulnerable racialized communities are targeted under this law, then we should push back with everything we’ve got. The thing is, we don’t know much about how this law is being enforced at present. Maybe it’s not being enforced at all, I have no idea. And before we respond to it, maybe we should figure out what it actually is first and who it actually impacts.

Just a thought.

*okay, unless they’re Muslim too, fair enough.

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