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Canada Won't Let Gender Variance Fly

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A bizarre section of the Identity Screening Regulations used in airports throughout Canada has sparked an Internet uproar. The section appears to ban gender-nonconforming and transgender people from boarding airplanes if their gender presentation does not match the one listed on their identification.

Despite the rumors, this does not mean all transgender people are banned from flight.

The regulations 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;

According to Canadian writer Christin Scarlett Milloy, the regulation came into effect July 27, 2011 but had not yet come to the attention of concerned citizens in and outside Canada. Also, to be clear, these regulations are not legislation. Right now, they are a set of rules implemented unilaterally by Canada's Ministry of Transportation as part of the fairly ambiguous "Passenger Protect," which is Canada's version of a "no-fly" list.

"I'm Canadian, and I've definitely gotten searched more thoroughly," said Will, a transgender writer from Cape Breton. "But I've not been refused. At least, not inside Canada."

So, what does this particular rule mean for gender-variant folks from the U.S. traveling in and out of Canada?

Well, in order to change the gender designation on a U.S. passport, a person must present a physician's note to prove that they are currently undergoing or have already undergone gender reassignment. So, for any gender-variant people who would prefer not have their gender reassigned, people who are not pursuing treatment for "gender identity disorder," and those androgynous-presenting folks who like it that way, there is no method to obtain proper travel documentation -- particularly for those of us living outside the binary.

I will actually be traveling through Canada at the end of the month, and in the light of these regulations, I've opted to drive.

To support the Canadian group against the ban, visit their Facebook group.

This piece was originally posted on Wild Gender.