You are more than “M” or “F” on your ID

Is it surprising to anyone that the Conservative government passed a bill infringing on human rights without much fanfare?

In July 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government agreed to regulatory changes in the Aeronautics Act that, intended or not, would forbid transsexuals from boarding airplanes.

Some may argue that this is a deliberate misinterpretation from the bill, which 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.”

However, it is difficult to read this in any way that does not discriminate against transgendered people, particularly both pre and non-operation.

For those unfamiliar with the process of transitions, while a trans person may complete somewhat of a physical transition by dressing differently, wearing makeup, commencing hormone therapy (which can and will cause those born female to grow facial hair, among other things) and even undergoing “top surgery,” until that person receives full gender reassignment surgery they will always have their assigned-at-birth gender marked on their government ID.

A trans person can change it only if they can prove that gender reassignment surgery will occur in the next year.

Some do not realize that not all trans people undergo gender reassignment surgery. The surgery is costly and complex, and many simply decide not to undergo it. This results in one very small section of the body determining the government’s classification of whether you are “M” or “F.”

There is a very simple solution for this problem: take gender off of government identification.

What is truly the point of being classified as male or female? If your photo matches, your height matches, and you can rattle off your postal code at the drop of a hat, why should any discrepancy with your gender see you denied service?

The claim is that this is a “security measure” taken. In the eyes of the government, someone who’s identification classifies them as a man but presents herself as a woman could potentially be smuggling something in those extra curves under her T-shirt.

Never mind that both women and men would have just as easy a time smuggling dangerous weapons on their bodies. If it’s truly a security measure, why do we not mark our weights on ID cards? Both weight and gender can change; like weight, gender is fluid and exists on a spectrum. This is not a novel concept (except for anyone in government).

In fact, this law creates an even larger headache for the androgynous and gender-queer, not to mention intersexed individuals. Not everything is a dichotomy, despite what our government identification would have you to believe.

I have no doubt that the LGBT community in Canada, as well as their fierce and friendly allies, will feel motivated to change this. Petitions and polite-but-strongly-worded letters are the way to go. The spreading of information is key here. Read about the issue and formulate a response. But for those who do decide to join the fight, I strongly encourage you to not just stop at “let trans people on airplanes.” Demand that our genders be stricken from the record.

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