By Parker Marie Molloy
Originally published on Advocate.com February 11 2014 12:11 PM ET
Transgender comedian Avery Edison was detained by the Canada Border Services Agency at Toronto Pearson International Airport Monday after border agents detemined a student visa she held had lapsed. Edison, who lives in the United Kingdom, was planning to visit friends in Canada for three weeks.
Edison managed to live-tweet her experience, highlighting fears and struggles experienced by transgender travelers. As she stated over a series of tweets, she understands that she wasn't detained as a result of her transgender status, but rather, her trans status simply made her experience worse than it would have been had she not been transgender.
According to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, individuals may be detained if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person is unlikely to appear for a hearing or is a danger to the public. Additionally, individuals may be detained if they have been deemed inadmissible for security reasons, or for violating human or international rights, serious criminality, or organized criminality.
Edison has a right to a detention review within 48 hours of being taken into custody, where she will either be released or held for seven additional days.
A complete transcript of Edison's tweets can be found on the next page.
So I think I’m in the process of getting denied entry at Toronto airport. So. That’s happening. So if I’m friends with the Prime Minister without realizing, now would be a great time for him to pull some strings.
Customs guy violated my privacy by searching through my phone, and even worse, he lost my place in Twitter. I am being detained. I am going to be deemed inadmissible, but first they’re making me wait, and going through all my stuff.
Been stuck here in customs limbo for six hours now, almost definitely getting sent home.
In addition to being merely inconvenient, this is a humiliating experience that makes me feel like a criminal. [I’m having] very dark thoughts at the moment.
For those asking, I overstayed my student visa last time I was here, which is why I came today with a non-refundable return flight and the lease for my place in the UK. I wanted to be here for three weeks to see my girlfriend, cars, friends, and pick up things I left behind. This is 100% my fault, but it still sucks. I feel so helpless and trapped.
This is a very large immigration waiting/processing room. Others have come and gone. I have lasted longest. In many ways, I am a queen. My case is being referred to a hearing, and I am being taken to an immigration detention center. [I’ve] just been read my rights. I’m in a washroom, crying.
Pretty sure there won’t be internet in detention. Will try to keep you all updated. I love you all, thank you so much.
Received word I may be kept in solitary because I am pre-operative MTF. Predictable, but still fucking terrifying. Waiting to be transferred.
There is a TV room, apparently, and also ‘plenty of families.’ I shouldn’t have to worry too much about attacks, apparently, because there are guards. But it’s not jail, it’s ‘like a hotel.’
[I’m] honestly surprised they haven’t stopped me tweeting. Still in the airport where there is free wifi, typing in full view. Credit to them? This, of course, is still fairly tame. I’ve seen English as a second language people HUMILIATED today, and I’m sure I’ll see worse in the detention center.
‘I have one male for pick-up, and it’s for a wet cell.’ - officer talking to detention center about me on the phone.
‘Wet cell’ is a fantastic term, by the way. It really lets the imagination run wild. This should all make for some good stand-up, eh? Apparently, a ‘wet cell’ is one with toilet and sink. The luxury! Finally something good about being a potential target for sex attacks.
The initial interviewing officer is telling another about my depression, keeps switching between ‘he’ and ‘she.’ MY PASSPORT IS FEMALE.
Feel free to retweet/spread the word, but with the proviso that this isn’t the end of the world -- I’m white, speak English, I’ll be pretty okay.
In case anybody is mistaken, I was NOT denied entry because I’m trans. I am not a credible visitor for reasons besides gender.
Congrats to Canada for topping the awful experience I had with US Customs asking me about ‘all your surgeries.’ For what it’s worth, I asked to be sent home, but that is apparently not possible.
So… (at 11:06pm) I was just offered food for the first time since 3pm EST. Tim Hortons, because they have a gift card. Ugh, this is taking too long. I just wanna get in my cell and cry in private.
Ugh, this is ruining my happy-go-lucky brand. The followers I get tonight are gonna be disappointed when I go back to jokes all the time instead of being arrested -- sorry -- ‘detained.’
Security is here for me. See you all soon!
Whoa! Last minute change of plan -- I will be taken to a women’s detention center in Milton. TOMORROW. In the meantime, I will sleep here in the waiting/interview area, bedding down in a nook by the vending machine (power outlet).
My ticket home was a non-refundable for March 3rd. Thought non-refund would help prove my intent to leave. I can leave tonight/tomorrow, if a friend buys me a ticket on a different airline (as AirTransat doesn’t fly until Thursday), BUT I want to go to the detention center so I can get visiting hours with the two people who waiting in arrivals for me all day. And because I would like to fight this, because this is wrong. Yes, I messed up, but my treatment has been deplorable.
I took a photo of the cool bed I made on the floor from assorted clothes from my luggage, but airport wifi won’t tweet it. The fact that I haven’t been approached by officers about these tweets is a stunning indictment of their lack of Google-fu. Like, c’mon guys, maybe take a break from misgendering me, and search my name and realize I’m telling everyone how awful you are.
By the way, they’ve taken my passport from me, of course. That was a super cool part of being read my rights. This morning I thought I’d be able to see my kitties. Now I’m trying not to cry as I sleep on an airport floor and await detention.
Change of plan AGAIN. Will be moved, soon, to Maplehurst correctional facility and assessed by a nurse before being placed in male or female cell. Literally going to jail. Actual jail. Because they don’t know what to do about my junk.
I have a right to counsel at my hearing (yet to be scheduled) but not sure if before then. G/f will be figuring things out tomorrow.
They for real keep leaving me along with my phone and airport wifi. What do you think I’m doing tapping away, dummies? Phone SIM is UK, so I will not have data once I leave the airport.
I’m incredibly grateful for everyone’s support. I’m alternating between furious and unable-to-stop-crying. Your messages are amazing.
Shout out to the immigration inspector who smiled and said, ‘have a great time!’ as she handed me my marked-up customs form 11 hours ago.
Please keep Toronto Airport customs/immigration officials in your thoughts, as this is apparently their first time meeting a trans person. Okay, my ride’s here.