Over the last few years, I’ve seen Canada as being something of a beacon of hope in the western world. I knew it wasn’t perfect – nowhere is – but I thought of it as a progressive nation that combined the best parts of the U.S. with the best of U.K. and Europe, while having few of the bad bits. It was a country I wanted to visit (I have relatives and friends there whom I’ve never met), and have, on more than one occasion considered emigrating there. A good record for human rights, friendly people, lots of space all made it a kind of wonderland. I saw it through the same kind of tinted lenses that draws people from Eastern Europe to the U.K., or from Central America to the U.S.A. Obviously, I was wrong, as Palpatine† would have put it, about a great many things.
Because yesterday I saw something that should never have been, and I have to write, even if it’ll only be read by a few. I saw that a young British comedian Avery Edison had been detained at Toronto airport, and saw how it progressed. Now first let me clarify, being detained wasn’t the problem. She’d over-stayed on a student visa in the past, and should have expected trouble while trying to return. Generally what happens in these circumstances is that the immigration staff say nope, and put them on the next flight home. This however, isn’t what happened.
Avery was able to tweet from the airport while they were deciding what to do with her, and so through the method of a link to local newspaper Toronto Life (and twitter) this is what went down…
“Transgender comedian Avery Edison held at Toronto airport, tweets her way through” — Toronto Life
What’s interesting and let’s be honest, downright scary here is that her passport clearly says female, and yet they still sent her to a men-only facility.
I was, last night prepared to rant on this, but I’d been out and had rather a lot of wine, so I thought I’d leave it for today, and when I woke up I learned that Avery has been moved to a female facility to await her hearing. I’ll let the Canadian National Post take up the story…
“Transgender woman moved to Ontario female correction facility after Internet uproar” — National Post
And for now, that’s all. The full live-tweet feet is available on Storify, here. And I am adding Canada to a growing list of “no visit” countries with an woeful lack of human rights (I know, I know, I live in another of them, but I can’t very well not visit the place I live in, can I?). At least until after surgery anyway, or until the world wakes up and realises that trans people are not a threat.
In closing then, good luck Avery. I hope everything gets sorted out quickly for you.
I note that BBC News hasn’t mentioned it at all at this time.
† Some people are geeks, get over it.