Sarahjanus's Blog

January 14, 2011

A new dress but not for flying

This blog is going to cover a serious issue for those in the cross-dressing community, the federal regulations that prohibit a passenger from embarking an aircraft if their gender of appearance doesn’t match their gender of identification.

I read a post from a writer in Forum. She cited the newspaper article about the student from Hong Kong who used a disguise to get on board an aircraft for Canada and then changed en route before claiming refugee status when he arrived here. The Hong Kong authorities have arrested eight people at their airport for complicity in the offence. The offender remains in custody in Canada pending a refugee hearing. However, of significance to cross-dressers, transvestites, transgender and transsexual people is the statement by Air Canada that they must refuse to allow anyone to board who does not appear to match their identification, which includes appearance, age and gender. So I wrote to Air Canada, Canada Border Services and Passport Canada to ask them specifically about me, a cross-dressing male. Anyone who reads my blog knows I’m a closet cross-dresser with only two public outings to my credit, so the chances of me being the trail-blazing pioneer at the boarding gate are slim to nil. However, I can ask the question and I did. I’ve include my message to Air Canada so that it is clear to every-one how I framed the question. I apologize to the more strident and militant members of the community for the “apologetic tone” of the message. First, that’s me, low-key and not wanting to offend, that’s my personality.  Second, I didn’t want an aggressive, threatening message to begin the exchange. Here’s my message;

—— Original Message ——
Sent: 12/01/2011 10:37 AM
Subject: Transgender/Transsexual
Subject : Transgender/Transsexual
Message : In a recent conversation with some American friends, triggered by the news article about the student from Hong Kong in the “old man” mask; they took note of the comments about the airlines’ responsibility to ensure that the bearer of a boarding pass was the same as the person in any identification offered. For transgender/transsexuals, this is a concern if they are not travelling as the gender of their identification. Apparently, in the United States it is not particularly difficult to identify yourself to the airline and T.S.A. as a transgender/transsexual and be processed smoothly even if your gender of appearance is not the same as your gender of identification.
I said I didn’t know the answers to the questions, I’ve always travelled as the gender of my identification, but I would try and find out. The question is then, specifically; I am physically a male but prefer to present as a woman, how do I approach the security and airline personnel at the airport and what can I expect in response?
I know it’s probably an unusual request. The community isn’t that large and many prefer not to cause themselves any unnecessary difficulty, but should one choose to travel dressed according to mental rather than physical state, it would be nice to know what to expect. Thanks.

And here is the response;

Dear Ms. Janus,
Thank you for your email.
We have had this same question a few times in the past year or so. We have researched the issue with our Legal Department who advised the following:
“Air Canada is bound by federal law and as such we are complying with the regulations that if a passenger’s face or gender does not match the government-issued photo identification, we are prohibited from carrying that passenger. If you have a concern regarding this, you can address your concerns with Transport Canada.”
We trust this information is of assistance to you.

I’ll be sending the same question to Transport Canada and I’ll let you know the answer. To be sure that I don’t run afoul of Air Canada in the meantime, I will clarify; the issue isn’t with Air Canada, it is with the regulations provided by Transport Canada that Air Canada must operate within. The airline is just the starting point of the enquiry.





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