Air Transat denied trans woman Ari Bianca passage on flight to Canada, despite having the requisite documents to prove her passport’s validity
Ari Bianca, a trans woman who previously lived in Dublin, was travelling to Canada with the airline Air Transat. However, despite having two passports, notarised legal document to indicate their authenticity and that she was who she said she was, she was not permitted to travel to Canada by the airline.
Ari holds dual citizenship, which allows her to have two passports. One is Italian, and one is Argentinian. The difference here is her older Italian passport marks Ari’s gender as male, while the Argentinian one marks her as female.
On Saturday 25 June, Ari took to Twitter to explain the situation fully.
“My name is Ari Bianca. I am a dual citizen of the Italian Republic and the Republic of Argentina,” Ari begins. “Today, Air Transat has denied me boarding a flight bound to Toronto, Canada from Glasgow, Scotland.”
“I am a transgender woman. My Italian documentation was made before transition and uses the first name ‘Ariel’, shows an older photo, and a gender marker ‘M’. However, I have used it consistently to travel for the last 8 years, both within Europe, to the United States, and to South America, with no issue. This is the first time I have been denied boarding a flight.”
“I travel with supporting documentation because I have been questioned about my passport photo before. This documentation includes my Argentinean passport with the correct gender (and a recent photo), and a notarized sworn affidavit with a legalized translation. This affidavit is a binding document of the Argentine Republic declaring my change of name from Ariel to Ari Bianca, and declaring my change of gender.”
No Visa, No Travel
Ari explains that even though she had the passports and the affidavit, Air Transat told her that she wouldn’t be travelling because she didn’t have a visa.
“I did not apply for a visa because it was not needed with my Italian passport.”
“The Air Transat representative called ‘Emma’, refused to give me her last name but phoned the High commission representative for me. The High Commission representative kindly explained this was a decision made by the airline at their discretion.
“In other words Air Transat made the decision to deny my flight, today, despite my carrying two legal documents, simply because I don’t look the same way as I did 8 years ago, before I began taking hormones.”
“I have not managed to obtain a new Italian passport yet due to the complex nature of gender recognition procedures through Italian bureaucracy. However, this decision is illegal under anti-discrimination UK law; it refuses to accept my legal Italian documentation, thus breaking Canada-Italy travel treaties; and it fails to recognise my sworn affidavit and its connection to my Italian passport as valid.
“All because of a simple photo. A photo which, when provided with supporting documents, has never caused any airlines (Ryanair, American Airlines, British Airways, EasyJet, to name a few) from ever preventing me from boarding a flight. Today, Air Transat has broken the law.”
Travel As Male
Ari goes on to explain that Air Transat suggested she “travel as male” in order to receive the protections and rights which her Italian citizenship grant her, which she rightly counters that she is not.
they said 'if you traveled as a male'. Which I'm not.
— aka m33n4h (@ab_silvera) June 25, 2016
This is an unacceptable level of ignorance of trans issues for Air Transat and indicative of the lack of education amongst corporations around trans issues. The Italian bureaucratic system which Ari explains is arduous when it comes to dealing with changing gender legally is also an issue that needs to be tackled.
In Ireland, it is now possible for trans people to legally change their gender without a prerequisite medical diagnosis.
Blogger Aoife O’Riardain explains that Air Transat “took issue with Ari Bianca’s transness. They refused to let her fly because she is trans and because her documentation made that clear.”
It indeed appears that Air Transat are refusing to acknowledge the validity of Ari’s Italian passport, and the fact that an Italian citizen does not require a visa, shifting the blame to ‘Canadian authorities.’
While Air Transat does not seem to be budging on it’s initial decision, Aoife O’Riardain is suggesting that people “tweet @AirTransat and let them know that they can’t do this and sweep it under the carpet- and please keep it firm but civil.
“Air Transat want to make this go away. Don’t let them,“ Aoife finishes.
So if you want to make a difference for trans people, to help Ari get an apology, take to Twitter and contact Air Transat, but remember to keep it civilised.
© 2016 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.