Skip to main content

Canadian Airport Anti-trans Laws

If Sweden's recent anti-person legislation is yet more proof that Sweden is not, regardless of what some self-proclaimed US "socialist" commentators imagine, a socialist paradise, then similar (but clearly less bio-fascist) legislation in Canada should be more than enough proof that this country is also far from socialist.  Not that any Canadian leftist worth hir salt has ever imagined that "our home and 'native' land" is anywhere close to socialism––our own experience with the brutal truth of Canadian colonial-capitalism has taught us otherwise––and we have always been rather bemused when US activists have tried to claim otherwise.  Yes, we have a better welfare capitalism, and only better for some, but the Canadian left's basis of organization, and whatever theory it has produced, begins by accepting that it lives within a context that is colonial, imperialist, and ultimately capitalist.

(Side point: Please, please, please… Can all of you yankee socialists stop referring to Canadian capitalism as "socialist"?  While I agree that it is better to live under a capitalism with free medicare and better welfare reforms than the armageddon capitalism you have, we're still capitalism [and colonial and imperialist capitalism at that] up here!  It's also something of an insult to Canadian leftists, many of whom have spent their lives struggling against this nation's capitalist nightmare, to act as if we are living in some sort of socialist utopia.  It's like telling all of us that we're stupid, should stop struggling, and that you know our social context better than we know it––you don't, stop pretending as if we're a model of your utopian fantasies.)

Indeed, there is so much legislation that proves that Canada is nothing more than a repressive state: colonial laws, "anti-terrorist" measures, the control of crime that often happens on a racist terrain, legislation that makes the most exploitative migrant labour fundamental to Canadian surplus-value, and really the entire continuing division between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat… All reasons for an organized revolutionary movement.  But the legislation I'm specifically complaining about in this entry––that is really nothing more than a logical super-structural product of a racist and patriarchal capitalism, that is co-extensive with all "cultural" and "lifestyle" laws intended to maintain the culture of this specific arrangement of capitalism––is the most recent anti-trans legislation.  (Legislation that I heard about a few days ago, but then was reminded of by a blog-comrade––hearing about it from several sources necessitates, in my mind, a blog entry!)

Okay, so we aren't demanding that transpersons should be sterilized: we're much more "polite" in Canada, and our ruling class understands the fact that acting like historical fascism might (an emphasis, here, on might) raise a few eyebrows.  Sterilization is so yesterday!  Better to create other laws that produce the same effect but without appearing to be as offensive… Such as the law to prevent any trans-identified individual from getting on an airplane.  Put in place by a conservative official, in defiance of the Charter, these laws have just recently become public.  And though there has been a public outcry against their existence, and they will probably be repealed because they're technically against Canadian "bourgeois" law, we must remember that the Conservatives have been trying to pass similar laws, at multiple levels, even going so far as to argue for an exclusion of trans-identified subjects from the Charter.  Hell, on a city level local reactionaries have been doing the same… And this is symptomatic of a rightward drift that has effected every bourgeois party––a symptom of a capitalism the left in Canada has failed to challenge for a very long time, especially since it continues to endorse a protracted parliamentary struggle rather than revolutionary politics.

the fascists watching you on airplanes

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that this airport anti-trans law exists.  One of the pro-trans political demands has always been the transformation of gender categories in bureaucratic forms, and passport gender categories are particularly problematic.  This anti-trans law is, in many ways, simply the logical conclusion of two premises: a) the need to police bodies moving across borders; b) the desire to police gender categories.  Combine the "anti-terrorism" measures with patriarchal gender-binary measures and this piece of anti-trans legislation makes sense, following a brutal logic.

Sure, this legislation can be explained away as not being "anti-trans" because, hey, "if you're really a trans-person then you should have already transitioned and look like your picture"… But, then, a very similar logic is being used for the Swedish sterilization legislation: "if you've transitioned then you don't want to be like the male or female that you used to be."  Both instances rely on strict gender categories. (And here we must remember that the only nation that has tried to break from this categorical gender binary in a bureaucratic sense is Nepal, at the height of the now declining revolution––this is a very important fact.)

What is most important about recognizing this anti-trans travel law, however, is the fact that Canadian capitalism has often justified its existence according to liberal notions of permissiveness.  Capitalism isn't bad, we are told, because it allows for queer and trans rights whereas the "barbarian nations"––the nations of terrorists, of "backwards people" who are opposed to "civilization"––would never permit these things.  Imperialist interventions, the persistence of colonial states such as Israel, are justified according to feminism, pro-queer, and pro-trans ideology.  Liberal capitalism is supposed to permit these "lifestyle choices" because we are meant to believe it is not a form of totalitarianism.  And yes, capitalism can and has permitted these transformations (though always because of struggle), and we must accept that the extraction of surplus-value can continue even if queer and trans rights are endorsed.  

The fact of the matter, however, is that the current capitalist ruling class of Canada is still challenging these rights, and that any right under capitalism is never permanent.  Abortion rights are also still under attack, immigration laws are always becoming stricter, welfare reforms and unions rights are constantly shifting, and even Canadian "socialized" medicine is always being challenged (both by the Conservatives and the Liberals)… None of our supposed rights under capitalism are certain.


  1. Amazing post. Just a side-thought, I think the anti-trans travel laws could also act as a camouflage to the anti-burka hence anti-Muslim- potentially-terrorist-woman tendencies of 'homeland securities'. Because this law would perfectly allow an officer to say-- "hey, how do I know you are an F if I can't even see your face, get into the booth and let me patrol you, eh" and things like that so I guess this legislation hits two birds with one stone, unless the subject traveling is a trans burka-wearing person, and that would be the ideal case for the immigrationers i think.

    1. Thanks for the comments. I never considered this possibility, but the intersection between this anti-trans legislation and Islamophobia, as you suggest in this regard, does make sense.


Post a Comment