Christin Milloy:

Rise up and seize equality

Transport Canada Caught in Misinformation — Response to Media Contained Embarrassing Error

Transport Canada responded on January 31st to inquiries made by XTRA reporter Andrea Houston regarding the Trans Flight Ban.

In their response, Transport Canada attempted to justify the regulation by claiming it was part of the international standards set by ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organisation).

The relevant portion of their response reads as follows:

The security of passengers and their baggage is a priority for the Government of Canada. The regulations are the same as before, since they are those of the International Civil Aviation Organization that are in place in all countries.

That response was signed by Maryse Durette, Senior Advisor, Media Relations, Transport Canada. XTRA published this response, along with others received from Transport Canada, in an article on their website.

Note that XTRA used a third-party online document sharing service called ‘Scribd’ to host the response docs from Transport Canada, before posting them on the XTRA site (it works just like embedding a YouTube video).

Some time later, Transport Canada rescinded their response (!) by rather quirky means. The Ministry filed a copyright notice with Scribd, in order to get their own PR department’s response documents removed from the internet.

Scribd decided to honour the copyright complaint, and removed the files (perhaps not considering that publicly released documents which are the product of a federal government ministry are probably in the public domain). Because of the nature of the embedding process, this caused the documents to dissappear simultaneously from the XTRA website. Luckily, XTRA had already copied and has since reposted the letters.

What could Transport Canada’s motivation be for this bizarre attempt to “undo” the release of their initial response, which emphasized ICAO standards?

Could it be because there is no mention whatsoever in ICAO standards about comparing the appearance of a passenger’s gender presentation with the ‘sex’ designation on their ID?

Could it be because the ICAO standard, to which Transport Canada claims adherence is paramount, actually offers a third sex option, “X” for “unspecified,” as laid out in ICAO document 9303 Volume 3, Machine Readable Travel Documents, the standard for passports throughout most of the world? This is also confirmed on the Wikipedia page for Machine Readable Passports.

Some countries, like Australia, are compliant with this standard, offering options of “M,” “F,” and “X.” Canada offers no such option, and is therefore not compliant.

So much for keeping Canada in line with international standards, Mr. Transport Minister.


  1. Thursday, 2012.02.02 at 03:26


    • Legit
      Monday, 2014.08.18 at 00:16

      What’s the big deal? Just act like the god damned sex you were born and get on the fucking plane. You don’t have to go full drag-queen every fuckin place you go.

      • Jon
        Wednesday, 2014.08.20 at 12:08

        It doesn’t work that way, champ. In my country, I can’t change the designated sex marker on my passport until I get surgery to remove my ovaries. So, even though no sane person would even accidentally mistake me for a woman – my passport says “F.”

        The only way I could present myself as the sex on my passport would be to wear full drag, and it would be… unconvincing. Not to mention humiliating.

  2. Struan
    Thursday, 2012.02.02 at 04:13

    This is Good. ^_^

  3. Natalie Murray
    Thursday, 2012.02.02 at 09:21

    I don’t think I’d want a third option. That would be an instant flag for discrimination, if you ask me, much like the Jewish Star or the Pink Triangle as used by the Nazis. How about an option for NO gender marker?

    • Christin
      Thursday, 2012.02.02 at 11:10

      Hi Natalie,

      That’s what the “unspecified” should be for. Even cisgender (non-transgender) should be able to ask for it too, so it’s optional for everyone.


    • Shaed
      Thursday, 2012.02.02 at 19:58

      You needn’t get one, but for those of us for whom either present option would be a lie, it would be a huge improvement.

  4. Thursday, 2012.02.02 at 18:32

    Why am I not surprised by Ottawa rewording things to suit their agenda? Wasn’t it Jason Kenney who attempted to have all references to homosexuality removed from the newcomer’s guide to Canada?

    I for one would welcome the chance to have my passport (and any other government document) changed to “unspecified”.

  5. Colleen Hillerup
    Friday, 2012.02.03 at 07:35

    I don’t know you well, Chris (just from Polaris) but I’m proud to know you.

  6. Friday, 2012.02.03 at 15:35

    I think this incident helps to illustrate the point that ultimately the real solution is that gender markers should be removed from ID entirely. Really, they only serve to complicate things in some cases, no other purpose.

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