In recent weeks, there have been reported instances of LGBT+ travellers not finding the skies so friendly including recent news from Canada where a trans woman was very publicly outed by employees at WestJet Airlines.
Lenore Herrem was travelling to Saskatoon when a gate agent had problems with her ID. Herrem presents as female but her Canadian health care card states her gender is male while the photo contained also presents as male due to it being over five years old. The gate agent was apparently “upset” by this, stating: “They don’t match”. A colleague immediately jumped in to tell the gate agent that it was fine, to let Here go ahead.
Herrem “gently and discreetly expressed to her, ‘It’s because I’m transgender, that’s why they don’t match up. But my face is the same and my ID matches the name on my boarding pass’.”
All seemed to be well, with Herrem being allowed to board and take her seat. Within ten minutes, however, both agents followed her onto the flight asking to see her ID again. “Loudly and in front of everyone” the first agent said: “Oh, that’s not the name I remember seeing on the computer when I looked at it.”
Herren described how the agent then “started spouting off different, other women’s names that were not mine,” before rolling her eyes and saying: “Are you sure it wasn’t your girl name that was on the computer?”
“She outed me in front of the whole aeroplane,” Herrem said. “I was in shock, it was quite traumatising, especially the way she did it… it was really unprofessional.”
WestJet contacted Ms Herrem to apologise for an experience that left her feeling “unsafe, vulnerable, belittled”. They released a statement which said they are “reviewing the matter as we are continuously assessing and evolving our practices and policies to maximise inclusiveness and celebrate diversity.”
Herrem accepted their apology but highlighted the fact that being able to pass as female in unfamiliar places is something she relies on in order to avoid harassment and the gate agent “took that away from me”.
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