Air Transat Denies Boarding to Transgender Passenger
My name is Ari Bianca. I am a dual citizen of the Italian Republic and the Republic of Argentina. 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.
When asked for documentation, I provided all three documents (two passports and affidavit) to an Air Transat representative. They spoke to a representative of the Canadian High Commission in the United Kingdom and told me that I can only travel on my Argentinean passport, but I wouldn't be travelling today as I 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.