NDP Motion Urges End of Government-Imposed Discrimination Against Transgender Air Passengers
February 2, 2012
OTTAWA – Going to the airport and showing a driver’s license or passport to board a plane is something completely normal for millions of Canadian air travellers every year. But no longer for transgender and transsexual citizens. A recent change to Canada’s airport security screening regulations is putting their freedom to travel at risk, forcing them to produce medical certificates, undergo surgery or forgo air travel. The reason: a new rule that forces airlines to deny boarding to any passenger that “does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents”.
Regrettably, the government did not bother to consult civil rights experts or LGBT groups during the drafting of the regulation. The result is punitive and discriminatory, many observers agree: “Transport Canada allows transsexual and transgendered people to travel if they arrive with a medical certificate,” said Randy Garrison, New Democrat Critic for LGBT questions. “This Conservative government is so disconnected from reality that they don’t understand that for many trans people, surgery is either unwanted or too expensive. In these cases, a medical certificate is not an option.”
Olivia Chow, who has been a long-time advocate for LGBT rights, is calling on Minister Lebel to stop this clear violation of fundamental mobility rights under the Charter. As the NDP Transport Critic, she has drafted a motion together with opposition colleagues that calls for an immediate end to the disgraceful legal situation which the ministry has caused. Scheduled to be voted upon during the next House of Commons Transport Committee meeting, the initiative aims to end the “severe discrimination against transgender and transsexual Canadians” and restore fairness and freedom of movement for transgender individuals.