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Transgender and transsexual people prohibited from flying in Canada

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Montréal, January 30, 2012


Hon. Denis Lebel

Minister of Transport

Transport Canada

330 Sparks Street

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0N5


RE: Transgender and transsexual people prohibited from flying in Canada


Dear Minister Lebel,


The Conseil québécois des gais et lesbiennes (CQGL) must inform you that youand your government adopted last summer a new regulation on identity checks inair travel that violates the rights of a significant number of transgender andtranssexual people to travel freely in Canada, under article 6 on freedom ofmovement in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


Adopted on July 29, 2011,regulation SOR/2011-156 entitled Regulations Amending the Designated Provisions Regulations and the Identity Screening Regulations, a regulationunder the Aeronautics Act, violates the right of numerous transgenderand transsexual people to travel in the country, through article 5.2 (1), which reads as follows: “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.”


Please be aware that numerous transgender and transsexual people do not have identification that corresponds to their gender identity, because it is impossible in Canada to change one’s legal sex without undergoing surgery. All provinces require sex reassignment surgery in order to change legal sex, and this surgery is often inaccessible for multiple reasons, including financial, medical, personal, and other reasons.


The Conseil québécois des gais et lesbiennes believes that no person should bediscriminated against on the basis of their sex, gender identity, or gender expression. Furthermore, on the legal front, a paper by legal scholars Jean-Sébastien Sauvé and Marie-France Bureau has demonstrated that the notion of legal sex is highly arbitrary and archaic.1


Given that most Conservatives opposed Bill C-389, An Act to amend the CanadianHuman Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression), which died on the order paper when the last election was called, you will understand why we are concerned about the attitude your government seems to be taking toward transgender and transsexual citizens.


We are all the more concerned because the adoption of this discriminatory regulation against transgender and transsexual people requires airline companies to treat them as if they were suspected terrorists.


However,we trust that you will be sensitive to this issue and immediately change the regulation, removing this provision that infringes on the rights and freedoms of thousands of transgender and transsexual Canadians, and demonstrating that they are full citizens with equal protection under law.


Verytruly yours,



Chief Executive Officer

Conseil québécois des gais et lesbiennes



CC :


Rt.Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister

Ms.Nycole Turmel, Leader of the Opposition

Mr.Bob Rae, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

Mr.Daniel Paillé, leader of the Bloc Québécois

Ms.Élisabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada


(1) Sauvé, Jean-Sébastien, and Marie-France Bureau, 2011. “Changement de la mention du sexe et état civil au Québec Critique d'une approche législative archaïque.” Revue de droit de l’Université de Sherbrooke, vol. 41, no. 1.




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