Canada Is Changing Its Airport Screening Rules To Accommodate Transgender Passengers

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In an internal operations bulletin obtained by CBC, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) detailed their new procedures for accommodating transgender passengers who receive physical searches during security. The changes include a trans passenger's freedom to choose the gender of the officer searching them, including the option to request a "split search," in which different-gendered officers search different halves of the passenger's body.

The bulletin, released late September 2016, instructs officers to be aware of and sensitive towards the needs of a trans person's security.

"Never ask if someone is transgender or transexual," the bulletin reads. "Instead, when a physical search is required and you are unsure about a person's gender status, ask them if they would prefer that the search be conducted by a male or female screening officer."

In addition to these changes, the new procedures also give passengers the option to have the physical search conducted privately.

When making these changes, CBC reports that CATSA reached out to Egale Canada Human Rights Trust to ensure accuracy, but executive director Helen Kennedy is still cautious. As far as she knows, the changes have yet to implemented, and she stressed the importance of officers not just going through the motions, but thoroughly understanding the nuances.

"It's important to have policies and have them accurate and authentic, but it's something completely different to have the staff on the ground doing this understand what it actually means," she told CBC. "I want to respect the fact that they have taken this initiative, but at the same time, if you want to do it authentically you have to do it right."

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