Transgender woman says she was outed by airline employee

Transgender woman says she was outed by airline employee

Lenore Herrem was flying from Calgary to Saskatoon last week on WestJet and came face to face with a gate agent who appeared “upset and confused” when she handed over her ID and boarding pass, she told CBC News.

“She got upset and said, ‘They don’t match,’ but her colleague said, ‘Yes, they do, it’s fine, go ahead,’” Herrem recalled.

Herrem’s gender on her Quebec health care card is marked as male and the ID photo is five years old, from when she still presented as male.

“So I 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,’” she said.

About 10 minutes later — when Herrem was sitting aboard the plane — both gate agents barged on, with the one who’d been confused demanding to see the ID again, claiming the name on the card and the one on the computer didn’t match.

“She rolled her eyes at me and said, ‘Are you sure it wasn’t your girl name that was on the computer?’” Herrem recalled.

“She outed me in front of the whole airplane.”

The agent’s abrasive demeanor left Herrem feeling “unsafe, vulnerable and belittled,” she said.

“It was quite traumatizing having someone, especially the way she did it so loudly and in front of everyone, it was really unprofessional,” Herrem said.

Herrem relies on “passing” as female in unfamiliar places or when she’s alone so that she can stay safe from harassment, but the gate agent took that away, she said.