Montréal, January 30, 2012
Hon. Denis Lebel
Minister of Transport
330 Sparks Street
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.
Chief Executive Officer
Conseil québécois des gais et lesbiennes
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.