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February 11, 2014 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Comedian, Mefi's own, and transgender woman Avery Edison is currently being held in a men's jail in Ontario on immigration charges, separated from the general population. Avery tweeted about her detention last night.
posted by Apropos of Something (284 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Her partner (wife? I've seen her referred to both ways), Romy Sugden, said on Twitter that she's "holding up like a fucking champ" and being treated well, aside from being misgendered.

Better than the other way around, I guess.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:51 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


This storify is updated (scroll to the bottom) with her partner's tweets following up, and visiting her at the prison.

She has F on her official ID and she still got sent to a men's prison. This is horrifying, but not surprising; business as usual for trans women engaging with authorities.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:52 PM on February 11 [21 favorites]


My "favorite" part:
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”.
posted by muddgirl at 12:52 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I've been following this on my Facebook feed; the twitter hashtag is #FreeAvery for those of you who want to watch it trend and develop there. The NDP party has gotten awind of the news pretty quickly - Peggy Nash of the NDP Party (the official opposition finance critic) is apparently working with Randall Garrison of the same party to get an immediate transfer, and then later on policy to change the extraordinarily outdated and intrusive Canadian law that bases detention upon genitals.

The one thing I've noticed that kind of irritates me is that like half of the people on my feed keep referring to Avery as a trans* woman instead of a trans woman. I mean it's not the worst of things but ughhhhh it's like the asterisk doesn't mean anything anymore.
posted by Conspire at 1:01 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Yikes, I'll have to avoid Canadian connections in the future then (and for what are now quite apparent, practical reasons).
posted by Slackermagee at 1:02 PM on February 11


Reference on MPs Peggy Nash / Randall Garrison
posted by Apropos of Something at 1:06 PM on February 11


For fuck's sake....
posted by odinsdream at 1:06 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


For us non-Canadians, how frequent is it for the Canadian government to detain an English-speaking immigrant over visa issues?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:09 PM on February 11


Any details on the visa infraction? The story doesn't elaborate but I find it strange that she would be sent to prison on (re)entry into Canada for overstaying a student visa. Why not just refuse entry and send her home?
posted by rocket88 at 1:09 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


The story doesn't elaborate but I find it strange that she would be sent to prison on (re)entry into Canada for overstaying a student visa. Why not just refuse entry and send her home?

I'm going with "tough new approach to immigration!1!!11!!!"
posted by Hoopo at 1:13 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


You mean there might actually be some sort of equality and rights issue for which the United States doesn't actually come out looking like complete Nazis when compared to Canada?

The story doesn't elaborate but I find it strange that she would be sent to prison on (re)entry into Canada for overstaying a student visa. Why not just refuse entry and send her home?

Not prison, a detention center, this is likely a temporary facility until a removal hearing and subsequent "removal".
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:13 PM on February 11


She overstayed her visa and then left. This is her first return to Canada since then. They're keeping her in detention pending a hearing, but some genius decided that the only place capable of housing a dangerous comedian until said hearing is an all-male prison.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:13 PM on February 11 [14 favorites]


i'm seconding what rocket88 says, that's really quite the overreach. Is it just a detention center? Perhaps they thought/decided the ID listing her as female was fraudulent and turned it into a fake-passport issue?

... on preview, it's a detention center.
posted by dabitch at 1:13 PM on February 11


Oh good, I was going to post this here. I am glad someone did. I'm just gobsmacked about this whole thing. This is insane, intrusive, offensive, and awful.

That law needs to be eliminated immediately.
posted by Kitteh at 1:15 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


So it's the normal routine when a an overstay attempts a re-entry to Canada is to detain and wait for a hearing? Most places just send you straight back on the next flight and ask you to sort stuff out at the home countries embassy.
posted by dabitch at 1:15 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


but some genius decided that the only place capable of housing a dangerous comedian until said hearing is an all-male prison.

Some genius shouldn't be deciding anything. There should be an established protocol for this. Right? It can't be the first time this has happened.
posted by three blind mice at 1:16 PM on February 11


... on preview, it's a detention center.

No, they apparently decided to hold her at a men's jail instead of a detention center. It's documented in the Storify.
posted by muddgirl at 1:16 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Maplehurst Correctional Complex is, according to Avery herself and her girlfriend, the men's prison she has been 'detained' in.
posted by emmtee at 1:17 PM on February 11


Maplehurst is a 10 minute drive from me. It's a prison used for sentences less than 2 years, and a temporary facility used for longer sentences awaiting transfer.
posted by rocket88 at 1:17 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Why not just refuse entry and send her home?

Incidentally, this is how that happens, well, often how that happens, outside of the whole issue of the search and such. In the US where there are way more removals than detention cells, she likely would have been "paroled" and/or permitted to get on a plane voluntarily after the hearing or after waiving the hearing.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:17 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Unless I'm missing something, Maplehurst comes up as a correctional facility, which doesn't sound like a detention center to me, unless Canadians term prisons differently.

Upon edit, what everyone above me said.
posted by Kitteh at 1:18 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


@lauradilabio was also visiting Avery today...
posted by paulshannon at 1:18 PM on February 11


This is terrifying and should not be happening. I would love to know what she is being held for, and why they think they can misgender her.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:19 PM on February 11


I misread what Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish said. Detained in a real prison = all kinds of bad. Is that the norm for people with visa issues in Canada?
posted by dabitch at 1:20 PM on February 11


It appears to be a catch-all facility. Prison, transfer facility, local jail, and detention center.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:20 PM on February 11


In one of the tweets she says she was offered a flight back if someone would buy her a ticket (air transat doesn't fly back till Thursday) but she elected to be detained in order to have visiting hours with two people that had been waiting for hours at arrivals at Pearson. As to getting into Canada, yes, they are strict on overstaying visa as well as other "infractions" (for instance, DUI automatically excludes you from Canada, no exceptions).
posted by saucysault at 1:20 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


What I gather so far, roomthreeseventeen, is that she overstayed a visa yoinks ago, went back home to the UK, then returned with a plane ticket that showed she was headed back to the UK, in order to pack up and finish up some stuff in Toronto from a previous relationship. Aside from the visa issue, I have no idea why she is being treated so fucking horribly.
posted by Kitteh at 1:21 PM on February 11


Thanks for that storify link, AoK. This is so horrifying and infuriating. I've had trans* friends go through pretty shit treatment with TSA, but none of them ended up misgendered into the wrong prison.

Is there a place to send emails of outrage?
posted by gingerbeer at 1:21 PM on February 11


(for instance, DUI automatically excludes you from Canada, no exceptions).

Sort of true, but you have to undergo rehabilitation (not actual rehab rehab) before you can be admitted in Canada. I know. I had to do it for an infraction from my 20s.

/end of derail
posted by Kitteh at 1:22 PM on February 11


This is just...What the fuck.
posted by rtha at 1:24 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Part of it is a remand centre, which is where people go when awaiting trial. Just because there is a prison there doesn't mean Avery is in prison.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:24 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Come back from jail avery we need you.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:24 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


I found a document about Canadian border detentions here, for people with questions. I also note this:
The detention review process is also public, so media or members of the public may attend or report on the proceedings.
I have heard there is a protest on Saturday, but the review should be tomorrow or Thursday, and hopefully her friends/supporters can find out the time and show up.
posted by muddgirl at 1:25 PM on February 11


Here's a timeline of events so far (along with suggestions of people to contact). There's a rally planned at Queen's Park on Saturday at 2 p.m.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 1:25 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Forgive me for my ignorance, but if her passport says female then how did they know she was trans in the first place? Do they check everybody, or go around regularly "suspecting" people?
posted by Thing at 1:26 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


Charmingly, the Toronto Sun article has a bit where you can vote on whether you think it's right that she was sent to a men's prison.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:26 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Charmingly, the Toronto Sun article has a bit where you can vote on whether you think it's right that she was sent to a men's prison.

Glorious and free indeed.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:29 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Here's a timeline of events so far (along with suggestions of people to contact).

I wonder why she won't get a hearing until at least Monday, besides "reasons."
posted by muddgirl at 1:30 PM on February 11


I wonder why she won't get a hearing until at least Monday, besides "reasons."

Bureaucracy.
posted by josher71 at 1:30 PM on February 11


Forgive me for my ignorance, but if her passport says female then how did they know she was trans in the first place? Do they check everybody, or go around regularly "suspecting" people?

The article says that assignment in Canada is based on genitals, so I assume they check when you're arrested. I mean that's awful and humiliating, but one assumes that that's what they do.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:31 PM on February 11


On her profile, here is a comment on a previous thread about being detained.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:31 PM on February 11


Just one anecdata point, but as an upstate NY resident who has crossed the US/CAN border more times than I can remember, I've always found the Canadian border agents much more intimidating than the US ones, no matter the supposed political reputations of each country, and I can confirm what someone above said about strictness about DUI offenders: I was once with a group of friends who wanted to drive to Ottawa for a weekend of sightseeing and it turned out one of the people in our group had had a DUI years before. All of us spent 6+ hours at the border station being periodically questioned, and finally we got our IDs back (this was pre-9/11 so no passports) and told our friend was banned from Canada, though the rest of us could enter if we still wanted. Let's just say our enthusiam had waned, even if it hadn't meant stranding him in the middle of nowhere.
posted by aught at 1:32 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


This, of course, is still fairly tame. I’ve seen ESL people HUMILIATED today, and I’m sure I’ll see worse in the detention centre.

Also sad.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:32 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Maplehurst is a 10 minute drive from me. It's a prison used for sentences less than 2 years, and a temporary facility used for longer sentences awaiting transfer.

Oh can you visit? We can send care packages, letters of protest. Vote #1 rocket88!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:34 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I'm sorry, but if her passport says F, there is no fucking reason for them to be looking down her pants. Do they do that to everyone regardless of whether or not they "look trans*". Such bullshit.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:34 PM on February 11 [24 favorites]


Maybe they don't take visitors, of course. Plus you may be busy!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:35 PM on February 11


the quidnunc kid: "Oh can you visit? We can send care packages, letters of protest. Vote #1 rocket88!"

I think she's passed her quota of visitors now, until Monday.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:37 PM on February 11


This, of course, is still fairly tame. I’ve seen ESL people HUMILIATED today, and I’m sure I’ll see worse in the detention centre.

Also sad.


Better humiliated than tased to death, I guess.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:37 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Sophie1 - It's standard to perform a strip search before putting anyone into a prison or detention facility. There's really no way to make sure that someone doesn't have a weapon without exposing their genitals, "suspected trans" or otherwise.
posted by telegraph at 1:38 PM on February 11 [15 favorites]


Conspire: "The one thing I've noticed that kind of irritates me is that like half of the people on my feed keep referring to Avery as a trans* woman instead of a trans woman. I mean it's not the worst of things but ughhhhh it's like the asterisk doesn't mean anything anymore."

What did the asterisk used to mean, in this context?
posted by IAmBroom at 1:38 PM on February 11


Just one anecdata point, but as an upstate NY resident who has crossed the US/CAN border more times than I can remember, I've always found the Canadian border agents much more intimidating than the US ones, no matter the supposed political reputations of each country

I have the opposite problem. As an American living in Canada, I have watched US border guards treat my Canadian friends pretty shittily, but I have never encountered a rude Canadian border guard. YMMV.

In any case, this is not the issue at hand.
posted by Kitteh at 1:39 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


I would love to know what she is being held for, and why they think they can misgender her.

She has been pretty clear on why she's being held (prior visa violation). The outrage here is the misgendering, not so much the detention itself. I'm sort of puzzled why she didn't seem to at least have an inkling that this would be one possible result. She clearly knew (non-refundable tickets, lease, etc.) that she had an outstanding visa "problem".

The lesson here is: get a lawyer and get your visa issues sorted out before you get on the flight. Always.

Maybe I'm just a grouchy old cynic -- and I have no doubt that the wrath of Metafilter (tm) will descend on me for saying this -- but there are much bigger immigration related outrages going on every single day than one female comedian who is being held in safe segregation inside a detention facility for male inmates, especially considering she knew full well she was flying into a country where she could possibly be denied entry.

I really, really wish we could summon up this much internet outrage, twitter campaigns, special hashtags, and organized protest for those people. I'm pretty sure she'll be ok. It's the people who don't have anyone to advocate for them that could really use your help.
posted by anastasiav at 1:40 PM on February 11 [43 favorites]


Oh ok. Thanks, ArmyOfKittens.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:40 PM on February 11


Telegraph - she was still at the airport - it's not like she had been booked.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:40 PM on February 11


IAmBroom: "What did the asterisk used to mean, in this context?"

Nominally, inclusion of non-binary and other gender-variant people under the trans umbrella. You can say trans* people--although I don't--to talk about us as a community, but no-one I know calls themselves a trans* woman.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:41 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I don't see the point of coming into a thread and telling people that they're not spending their time/attention properly. Be the Metafilter you want to see in the world.
posted by muddgirl at 1:41 PM on February 11 [38 favorites]


I think it's important to note that the detention policy, at least on paper, isn't the issue - there's plenty of reasons why a detention hearing as opposed to immediate deportation is more just especially when dealing with refuge cases, and the policy sets a 48-hour time limit for detention (in policy, if not in practice) before a hearing must be had. Additionally, you can waive your right to a hearing and return immediately - which Avery has not chosen to do so. While Canadian border patrol is known for being extremely strict, they generally do need an actual reason to detain you - and in this circumstance, they had one.

So the question really is the conditions of treatment in detention and the fairness of the hearing. And for Avery's situation, the first has clearly been violated by being sent to a men's detention facility.

So I mean, yeah, there's a lot to be said about racism and transmisogyny in the border patrol process and how minorities are held to stricter standards - and also a lot about the policies of Harper in the development of further issues with border patrol along this axis - but I think it's too early to abandon all ship and declare Canadian borders entirely corrupt. So ultimately I have to say, yeah, I don't really get the panic that I'm seeing from a lot of cis white people on this issue - this isn't something you need to be concerned about as a personal principle of safety.
posted by Conspire at 1:42 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


anastasiav: " there are much bigger immigration related outrages going on every single day than one female comedian who is being held in safe segregation inside a detention facility for male inmates, especially considering she knew full well she was flying into a country where she could possibly be denied entry. "

Being detailed in the wrong-gender prison is a violation of human rights, it's dangerous, it's humiliating, it's cruel and unusual; it doesn't happen to cis people, though, so I guess we shouldn't make a fuss?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:43 PM on February 11 [50 favorites]


I really, really wish we could summon up this much internet outrage, twitter campaigns, special hashtags, and organized protest for those people. I'm pretty sure she'll be ok. It's the people who don't have anyone to advocate for them that could really use your help.

I don't disagree with you. I think the fact that Avery is a Mefite is a big factor here.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:43 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Do they check everybody, or go around regularly "suspecting" people?

One can make a lot of guesses, but it could be there is information in the paperwork regarding the earlier infraction that indicates her previous gender status, and they took it from there.

Also, once the decision has been made to move someone to a detention facility, isn't everyone stripped and searched thoroughly before being given inmate clothing? At that point, the pre-op status would presumably come to the attention of her handlers.
posted by aught at 1:43 PM on February 11


Avery was going to Canada in part to meet with her lawyer. So clearly she knew that the visa violation was going to be an issue. I'd worry about the lawyer's qualifications if he/she couldn't see this coming, though.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:44 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry, but if her passport says F, there is no fucking reason for them to be looking down her pants. Do they do that to everyone regardless of whether or not they "look trans*". Such bullshit.

There are many elements of this situation that are wrong but someone going into detention better be searched thoroughly enough that genitals would be noticed or they are being very careless with the safety of everyone in the facility.
posted by srboisvert at 1:45 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


Again, she was misgendered and it was determined that she would go to the men's facility while she was still at the airport. You strip search after you get booked, not in detention. So, again, who decided that she would be going to the men's facility despite having an F on her passport?
posted by Sophie1 at 1:46 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


[Folks, really really do not continue with the "let's talk about the unrelated things people should be talking about instead of the topic of the thread" derail on either side, please.]
posted by cortex at 1:47 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


tbh, the attitude that a trans woman being treated appallingly solely because she is trans is an unimportant thing in the great scheme of things is kind of what supports that appalling behaviour in the first place.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:48 PM on February 11 [33 favorites]


Being detailed in the wrong-gender prison is a violation of human rights, it's dangerous, it's humiliating

To be fair, she's by herself - at the men's facility, yes, not the women's, and there is injustice there, but being in solitary is probably not particularly dangerous, and, at least to me, is probably preferable, safety and other-wise, to being in a group detention situation.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:49 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Of course to clarify, I don't mean to say that cis people shouldn't be worried about this - just don't extrapolate it to mean that you will have issues personally with the border control because of what this incident illustrates. The issue here is transmisogyny - and I feel weird when that gets overlooked by cis people to declare that the border process is unsafe for them personally because of this incident.
posted by Conspire at 1:50 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


To be fair, she's by herself - at the men's facility, yes, not the women's, and there is injustice there, but being in solitary is probably not particularly dangerous, and, at least to me, is probably preferable, safety and other-wise, than being in a group detention situation.

The Dangers of Solitary Confinement for Transgender Prisoners and Detainees
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:51 PM on February 11 [22 favorites]


Her safety is very much a Big Fucking Deal to me at least, because I work extensively in the local correctional/remand/2a-1d facility here and the violence I see perpetrated on short stay inmates is horrifying.

The remand inmates are frequently worse than the inmates there on sentence because the sentenced inmates are there for lesser crimes but a remand inmate might be there for any God damned reason at all. Rapists, murderers, whatever you got, that's remand, and there's only so much room in seg/SHU. Mix that up with the need to keep gang member movements separate and it's incredibly easy to have a remand inmate in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I just want her out safe and back home and never mind whether her or her lawyer or whoever else ought to have known better. Also the presence or absence of any given kind of genital oughtn't be the sole deciding factor in where you wind up when you are institutionalized, but I sadly don't expect that to change anytime soon.
posted by Sternmeyer at 1:52 PM on February 11 [18 favorites]


Visa "issues" are no joke. Although it's not a felony to overstay, don't expect to be allowed to reenter the country again without going through a lot of red tape. In fact, if her1 hearing determines that she violated federal statute (such as the IRPA) and results in an Official Deportation, she may become inadmissible to Canada, subject to the procedures for criminal rehabilitation if she ever wants to return.

I've always found the Canadian border agents much more intimidating than the US ones, no matter the supposed political reputations of each country,

My impression is that "foreign" border agencies are always more intimidating / treat travellers worse than domestic ones. I don't see anything about her treatment (searching the phone, detention, gender issues) that would surprise me if it were happening to someone attempting to enter the US with an immigration violation on their record.

1 (Is "her" the right pronoun here? I'm very sorry if that's incorrect. I went with the pronoun everyone else seems to be using.)
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:53 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I've been really impressed with the attention this has gotten. Trans women getting put in men's prisons is not a new thing, and still happens all the damn time — especially to poor women and women of color (who are more likely to be incarcerated in the first place) and often without a whole lot of outcry. Cece McDonald's case eventually got some attention, for instance, but it took a while to get rolling and there were some community leaders putting pretty serious effort behind it.

The flap over Edison's case seems to have blown up pretty much spontaneously on Twitter, and it's getting more concentrated attention from people I follow than McDonald's case ever did.

I'm sure it helps that she's white, and that she's in for a pretty "relatable" nonviolent middle-class-type offense: overstaying a visa, not stabbing someone in self-defense. I'm sure it helps that she livetweeted the whole thing, and that she was well connected online to begin with. (MeFi's own!) I'm sure it helps that this is Current! Breaking! News! and not the tail end of a long tiring slog through the legal system, so nobody's got outrage fatigue yet.

I don't even know if I've got a coherent conclusion here. It sucks that it happened, I'm thrilled to see it getting attention, I'm unsurprised-but-not-totally-thrilled that it's getting this attention when other similar cases didn't, and I really hope that all this brouhaha translates into better treatment not just for Edison herself but for other less-well-connected trans inmates in the future. Guess that about covers it...
posted by this is a thing at 1:53 PM on February 11 [13 favorites]


Avery was placed (fully segregated) in a male detention facility (not a prison), whereas she should have been placed (fully segregated) in a female detention facility.

The comments scare quotes about "suspecting", being targetted, about being unjustly imprisoned, are just noise. Avery wanted a hearing, and did not want to immediately leave the country.

You can stop worrying about her safety, and about the general breakdown of the rule of law at the CBSA.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:55 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


(Is "her" the right pronoun here? I'm very sorry if that's incorrect. I went with the pronoun everyone else seems to be using.)

Yup. Good for you for asking, since you weren't sure — but you did guess right. Trans women are women, and "her" is the right pronoun to use here.
posted by this is a thing at 1:58 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


ceribus peribus - yup, you're good.
posted by rtha at 1:59 PM on February 11


It's Tuesday, and Avery reports that she is well-cared for. Her friends also report that she will not be allowed any more visitors until Monday. I think saying that she is not in danger and that we should, I guess, stop worrying is incredibly premature. A lot can happen in a week with no contact with friends/family.

While it is sad and predictable that a pretty white comedian with a large online presence gets more attention than less sympathetic cases, it seems to me like there are a lot of people out there thinking about Canadian/US detention procedures who may have been privileged enough to be ignorant before.

Avery was placed (fully segregated) in a male detention facility (not a prison)

Maplehurst is both a prison and a detention center. It is not incorrect to call it a prison.
posted by muddgirl at 2:00 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


muddgirl: "While it is sad and predictable that a pretty white comedian with a large online presence gets more attention than less sympathetic cases, it seems to me like there are a lot of people out there thinking about Canadian/US detention procedures who may have been privileged enough to be ignorant before."

The online presence helps in alerting those of us outside the US/Canada to her situation, too.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:03 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


This has been getting a lot of attention because Avery is awesome and talented and popular.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:03 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


"You mean there might actually be some sort of equality and rights issue for which the United States doesn't actually come out looking like complete Nazis when compared to Canada?"

Yeah, except on trans* prison issues we still look like total Nazis compared to Canada. They fucked up this time; we fuck up pretty much as a matter of policy.
posted by klangklangston at 2:04 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


It seems the core issue here is a simple one: many institutions have not developed processes for trans* people -- and in the case of prisons, this lack of recognition clearly has some substantial danger attached to it. This is a long time coming -- I swear it was a plot point on Oz at some juncture, although I could be remembering wrong. I see it happening in fits and spurts over the next years, but anything to accelerate seems like a step in the right direction.

Irrelevant AEdison story -- followed her on Twitter, enjoyed it, went full-on and signed up for the PDF publication. Had some issue with Amazon payments or whatever was used, sent email to Avery saying "this is not intentional, I am not trying to stop payment or cancel" and she responded by blocking me on Twitter. Unexpected. Which led me to re-read my email in the Sent box to see if I had somehow implied a gender or something. Still no idea what triggered the reaction. It's a story I have never told until now but thanks to MeFi, everything finds a purpose.
posted by Vcholerae at 2:05 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


It seems like this case is a matter of policy, though. Which is why it's important to talk about this no matter how well Avery is segregated or how well she is treated. I don't think it's helpful to have a "Which country has a worse record on trans rights?" contest.
posted by muddgirl at 2:08 PM on February 11 [12 favorites]


The Dangers of Solitary Confinement for Transgender Prisoners and Detainees

Which is a startling report focusing on long-term solitary confinement in US prisons, not short term solitary confinement in Canadian ones.


The news reports say that the law is for prisoners to be assigned by genitals not gender, the Ontario Human Rights Commission seems to be under a different impression...
In correctional institutions, the sex segregation of facilities is a concern for transgendered inmates, particularly when the person is pre-operative male to female transsexual. The Ministry of Correctional Services has no written policy to address this type of situation. Pre-operative male to female transsexuals may be subject to solitary confinement not because they are a threat to others but for their own protection. While this is obviously a systemic disadvantage, it is not clear what the alternatives are available in light of some of the safety issues.
(Section 4 ii in this report; underline is mine.) Does this differ between the provinces and the feds perhaps? Is this an on-the-fly made up idiocy from the ignoramuses involved in this case?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 2:11 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Which is a startling report focusing on long-term solitary confinement in US prisons, not short term solitary confinement in Canadian ones.

I totally get what you're saying. My point was that being in solitary is no picnic.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:16 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Now, I'm not in the habit of traveling with overstayed visa-issues, without first consulting the embassy in my home country, and I would opt for "next flight home" if I was detained and given that option... But if I, like Avery, had spent my last dosh on a non-refundable ticket and couldn't do that would I be tossed into a prison for a week waiting for a hearing? Hanging around with the general population? I doubt I'd do too well with that, and thank goodness Avery is placed in solitary where she's safer from - for example - violent criminals and gangs. That's good.
posted by dabitch at 2:16 PM on February 11


Maplehurst is both a prison and a detention center. It is not incorrect to call it a prison.

People read "prison" and they think, like, Oz. Maplehurst is a sprawling facility with various buildings. The part Avery is in is not the prison.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:16 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


The Dangers of Solitary Confinement for Transgender Prisoners and Detainees

That testimony is really interesting, and I really don't doubt the long-term affects of solitary on anyone, let alone trans people who are in greater danger of abuse by guards and the like and mistreatment in general. And I can certainly see where separating them can make them a target. I do feel, however, that being placed in long-term solitary for a criminal offense is a different sort of thing from waiting a week to get your visa situation worked out? I don't know. In any case, thanks for the link; I found that quite interesting and enlightening.

I guess I'm partially confused because the question, it seems, is not whether she should be detained - that was sort of her choice, as I understand it, right? So what is the sort of desired action here? To just have her moved to the general population quarters at the women's detainment center? Or separated but at the women's center?

No excuse though for immigration people being jerks about it. Could have been handled in a way that didn't needlessly upset everyone, and it wasn't.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:17 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Interestingly, this has gotten at least one Canadian MP talking about broader policy changes, though who knows how serious he is or whether he'll follow through.

But I think that's a nice example of why this sort of flap can be a Good Thing — even when other people clearly have it much worse. A sympathetic victim can drum up a lot of publicity. And that publicity can lead to changes that will be helpful to a lot of other people as well.
posted by this is a thing at 2:18 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


As much as the brutality and injustice of detention and immigration law absolutely needs more attention, and is denied that attention due largely to the race and class of its victims, it's worth noting that this isn't a case solely about the personal safety of one woman in solitary detention.

The response is in larger part to the fact this is a state actor, and a supposedly relatively progressive one at that, being seen to endorse the assignment of gender based on genitals even in contradiction to a person's passport and legal status, and being seen to nominate a men's facility as the appropriate accommodation for a transgender woman. That has potential ramifications for transgender people reaching far beyond Canada's borders.
posted by emmtee at 2:20 PM on February 11 [22 favorites]


The part Avery is in is not the prison.

She can't leave, all her communications are restricted and controlled, and she has to say "How high?" if a guard says "Jump." The distinction seems academic.
posted by rtha at 2:22 PM on February 11 [21 favorites]


They fucked up this time; we fuck up pretty much as a matter of policy.

Yeah, unfortunately this is our policy. Honestly, though I feel as if it won't be our policy for long. The basic laws are in place, Ontario and Federal courts have been quite clear that trans women are, well, women, and I doubt this reg would survive a challenge. I'm also positive that the CBSA/prison lawyers know that and won't fight hard to keep it.

The (federal) trans protection law is currently in second reading up at the Senate - it's going to happen, just blerg bureaucracy.

Much like a lot of people, I think this is bad but not as bad as it could be. Detention for the visa is fine (like, I don't love it but it's pretty standard procedure, given that there's a hearing soon), she absolutely should be in a women's facility (segregated or not as determined by their own procedures, I dunno) - but the difference between segregated men's and segregated women's is more of an issue for long-term stays, when you have to factor in things like access to services/etc.

Also: Interestingly, this has gotten at least one Canadian MP talking about broader policy changes, though who knows how serious he is or whether he'll follow through.

Heh, Garrison is the MP who introduced the trans* protection bill in Parliament. We can safely assume that he is serious, thankfully.
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:24 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I'm sorry if I've missed this, but are there specific people we should be contacting to demand Avery be moved to a women's facility?
posted by scody at 2:26 PM on February 11


And somehow we let Conrad Fucking Black back in without any sort of inconvenience to his august person.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:28 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


scody: "I'm sorry if I've missed this, but are there specific people we should be contacting to demand Avery be moved to a women's facility?"

"CALL Paul Vrbanac Director, Enforcement and Intelligence, CBSA 905-612-6070 to demand freedom for avery. status and release, being moved to women’s facility NOW"
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:30 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Last night I drove home from the Lego movie (it was awesome!) and looked at the Milton Hilton (as the locals call Maplehurst) as I always do. So awful that we have a Superjail, or the need for one. I am absolutely no expert on the Maplehurst Complex (especially since the renovations and merging with the Vanier Prison for women) but I thought Maplehurst was the name of the wing of the male correctional famility, Vanier was for women and the Maplehurst Complex shared the hospital and segregation facilities (so no separate women's segregation facilities but they are named Maplehurst). I could be wrong but I thought that was the plan in the name of efficiency and the use of the name Maplehurst didn't necessarily imply that all of the facility was for men anymore.

I completely support trans rights but putting her in segregation may have been the best option; the last thing she needs is to be doing trans 101 workshops on a female roommate who may or may not care.

It was not very smart to try to come to Canada with known visa problems (echoing others, what the heck was her lawyer doing letting her come without clearing it up first?) and dealing with immigration and detention is humiliating and demeaning to everyone at the short end of the stick. I hope she is released soon to go back home and get everything sorted out.
posted by saucysault at 2:48 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Thanks, AoK. Done and passed the word on.
posted by scody at 2:49 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Avery was going to Canada in part to meet with her lawyer. So clearly she knew that the visa violation was going to be an issue

As an aside, I'll lay this out here. NEVER DO THAT. If you have a visa violation or other possible bar to entry, you fix that with that country's embassy/consulate while you are at home, then travel.

Flying in and hoping to fix it never works, and often gets you stuck with a very expensive immediate return ticket, a multiple day detention, both, or if you're really unlucky, vastly worse things like actual time in prison for immigration violations, etc.

Seriously. If you overstayed, when you get home, you need to not go back to that country until that country's consulate has told you that yes, you are once again welcome to enter. Until they do so, you are not welcome to reenter, and nobody at the border is going to overlook it. You will be detained.

Also: Seriously, don't overstay a visa. If it's a situation where you might overstay because of some real life issue, you call that countries immigration authorities *before* your visa expires and work with them. Most countries will be happy to reissue or modify a visa in such cases, but you have to tell them while you have a valid visa. Many countries, in fact, will auto forgive a short overstay as long as you are honest about it (Forex, UK less than 28 days is not an auto-bar to entry.) But your life is vastly easier if you depart on time, even if that means changing the visa.

So, seriously. Don't do it, and if you did, don't go back until you clear it with the embassy.
posted by eriko at 2:51 PM on February 11 [29 favorites]


I understand and agree that it's a travesty to misgender Avery, but it seems the argument is really hinging on the fact that the male criminals in a detention facility are more dangerous than female criminals. That men are more transphobic than women.

That seems problematic.
posted by politikitty at 3:11 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


It's based on a proven history of violence against trans women in men's prisons.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:13 PM on February 11 [26 favorites]


"Apparently she will be moved to a women's prison/facility either tonight or tomorrow AM. Unfortunately, her visitor quota is up for the wk.." (from her partner's twitter)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:16 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


One other thing about her being held with the women. Maplehurst has detention custody (DC) and correctional custody (CC), segregated by sex obviously. People in CC have been sentenced, have tonnes of paperwork, and generally have a history with the correctional service, and are usually acting in a way that the parole board would look on favorably. So they are known qualities. DC is everyone else being held prior to trial, sentencing, deportation. They could be anyone - from someone accused of domestic assault, to property damage, immigration, or driving without a licence etc. They are generally much less known by the guards and a lot more unpredictable. They may have an undiagnosed (or undisclosed) mental illness, and they can be more rebellious against a system they haven't yet acclimatised to.

When deciding where to put Avery the officers had to decide what would be safest for her and for anyone else already in the facility (because they don't know her, either). Maybe, in looking at the population that was already in DC they felt she would be unsafe/harassed/accidentally incite others if she was kept with women, and realised she would be completely unsafe with men and so segregation was the safest option. But there absolutely are people in immigration, police, and correctional services that are complete transphobic assholes and I am not minimising that.
posted by saucysault at 3:16 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


saucysault, given that almost everyone involved was misgendering her from start to finish, I'm not sure you can really give them the benefit of the doubt.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:18 PM on February 11 [15 favorites]


Not only is this story unpleasant with misgendering and the whole threat that imposes, we get the special experience of watching people doubt every part of her story and blame her for her situation -- when she is a MeFite and has every chance of reading this. That's a great community action!
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:25 PM on February 11 [22 favorites]


Men might not be more "transphobic" in general than women, and that's kind of an impossible metric to quantitate anyway - but we can certainly look at sexual violence as a metric for the safety of trans women instead. And you're putting a group of women who are disproportionately subject to and victimized by sexual violence, together with no protection against men, who are by far the greatest perpetrators of sexual violence against all genders. That doesn't strike you as an issue and a very good reason to not put trans women in jails for men?
posted by Conspire at 3:26 PM on February 11 [20 favorites]


and blame her for her situation

Ummm... this was a completely foreseeable consequence of violating immigration law and then returning to the country where you committed that violation. Plus, they offered her deportation and she chose to take the hearing instead. Her detention was not a random event. I'm not sure that pointing that out is in any way the same as "blaming" her. Adults take responsibility for actions that have known possible consequences, and it's very clear from her Twitter that she was aware she had an issue and then chose detention vs. immediate deportation. As this continues to play out, my biggest surprise has been that she didn't do this on purpose or foresee that this might be the way it ended up; I would have been far less surprised if she decided to get detained in order to highlight the issues facing trans* people and immigration and/or the penal system.

Also, please point to anyone here who has doubted any part of her story. Indeed, people are pointing directly to her story to correct misinformation that is appearing (ie: the idea that she was somehow detained because she was trans).
posted by anastasiav at 3:38 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


If you read the tweets, she takes complete responsibility for the immigration violation. The breaking point is the handling of her gender status.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:41 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


"Apparently she will be moved to a women's prison/facility either tonight or tomorrow AM. Unfortunately, her visitor quota is up for the wk.." (from her partner's twitter)

That is good news!
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:41 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


As this continues to play out, my biggest surprise has been that she didn't do this on purpose or foresee that this might be the way it ended up; I would have been far less surprised if she decided to get detained in order to highlight the issues facing trans* people and immigration and/or the penal system.

Let me get this straight: you are saying it would have been more plausible that she did this in order to be humiliated and possibly physically and/or sexually assaulted to make a political point?
posted by scody at 3:43 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


Ummm... this was a completely foreseeable consequence of violating immigration law and then returning to the country where you committed that violation.

Detaining a woman in a men's facility is not okay no matter how foreseeable the possibilities of dealing with a visa overstay.
posted by rtha at 3:44 PM on February 11 [24 favorites]


Ummm... this was a completely foreseeable consequence of violating immigration law and then returning to the country where you committed that violation.

Yes, but that's not the story, really, is it? aedison returned to Canada (and insisted on a hearing) for her own reasons, and she seems to be taking responsibility for it. The story is how she has been treated as a trans* person, and trying to turn the discussion off that point is sort of an aggressive derail. As for doubting her story, I am seeing a lot of comments suggesting that her being sent to a male prison isn't that big of a deal. Which is pretty doubtful, in several senses of the word.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:48 PM on February 11 [16 favorites]


we get the special experience of watching people doubt every part of her story

I missed where her story was being doubted. Can you given an example?

am seeing a lot of comments suggesting that her being sent to a male prison isn't that big of a deal. Which is pretty doubtful, in several senses of the word.

That's not doubting her story, that's disagreeing with her opinion. Not remotely the same.
posted by spaltavian at 3:51 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I mean, wouldn't it be nice to see a thread about harassment that didn't have a comment asserting that it's not a big deal?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:52 PM on February 11 [18 favorites]


When it comes to segregation/isolation, is there any such thing as men's/women's facilities? How and why would they differ—aren't these going to be cells with no view to other cells, containing a cot and a toilet, absolutely identical to one another, with the detainee/prisoner never seeing anyone other than a couple guards? The only difference I might expect is that maybe women would be handled by female guards… but I doubt that's the case.

I'm looking forward to Avery's explanation for choosing detainment over sorting out her visa issues before traveling.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:55 PM on February 11


you are saying it would have been more plausible that she did this in order to be humiliated and possibly physically and/or sexually assaulted to make a political point?

More plausible that her apparent complete surprise that she was being detained? Yes.

People get arrested and possibly humiliated and risk being exposed to personal violence for their political or social beliefs all the time. If "segregate by genitals not gender" is really Canada's official policy (and reports do differ on that) then she can't be the first trans person to be incarcerated in a facility of the opposite gender. Therefore, even cursory research would have probably revealed that if she was detained then being detained in the men's facility was one possible outcome.
posted by anastasiav at 3:56 PM on February 11


OK, so let's grant that Avery is the dumbest, most short-sighted person ever born. Does that justify her being subject to mis-gendering by the Canadian immigration and corrections systems? If that doesn't justify it, then why do we need to talk about how dumb and short-sighted she is?
posted by muddgirl at 4:00 PM on February 11 [22 favorites]


More plausible that her apparent complete surprise that she was being detained? Yes.

The issue is not that she was detained, which may or may not have been a foreseeable outcome to her decision to return to Canada. The issue is that she has been detained in a facility that is at odds with her gender, which violates her human rights.
posted by scody at 4:01 PM on February 11 [13 favorites]


I'm looking forward to Avery's explanation for choosing detainment over sorting out her visa issues before traveling.

I'm sure she'll be interested to hear that she owes you an explanation. Do you expect similar explanations from all other visa violators?
posted by scody at 4:02 PM on February 11 [20 favorites]


When it comes to segregation/isolation, is there any such thing as men's/women's facilities? How and why would they differ—aren't these going to be cells with no view to other cells, containing a cot and a toilet, absolutely identical to one another, with the detainee/prisoner never seeing anyone other than a couple guards? The only difference I might expect is that maybe women would be handled by female guards… but I doubt that's the case.

Female guards is a definite possibility. In a short-term detention centre, there are going to be fewer differences. If she was in prison, then there would be a lot of issues that come up, off the top of my head the big one is access to programs (rehabilitory, vocational, medical), for which she would be getting. That's part of why this is important in general.

If anyone has specifics on issues that arise in short-term detention, I would love to know.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:02 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


The issue is that she has been detained in a facility that is at odds with her gender, which violates her human rights.

I think you are arguing with me despite my being on your side.
posted by anastasiav at 4:04 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


This kind of appalling story with the visibility it has gotten should end up being a big lesson for Canadian immigration and help them rewrite policies going forward. My hope is it filters over into the American system as well, but I doubt it.
posted by mathowie at 4:05 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Your "side" being that Avery deliberately violated Canadian immigration laws to make a stand, despite any evidence to this effect except, "No one is that stupid?"
posted by muddgirl at 4:05 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Avery herself has said this is her fault; it is totally understandable that she thought she had enough proof that she wasn't going to overstay again and clearly her lawyer didn't advise her how serious immigration takes overstaying on a visa in the past when someone lands at Pearson. She also accepted detention over paying for another flight home, which is understandable if she didn't have the money and she wanted to see her friends again after a long absence. She is absolutely not to blame for deplorable treatment by immigration staff that can't get her pronoun right. If they were having issues with deciding where to put her while in detention they should have been professional and had those discussions privately and discretely by themselves. It doesn't sound like immigration staff were insulting or harassing her though; more that they were using the wrong pronoun (out of ignorance? - why else would the same person keep switching pronouns?) and then sending her to the men's prison because a binary bureaucracy still doesn't know how to sensitively deal with people in transition. The good news is that apparently trans people in Ontario are completely law abiding because this has never happened before? Seriously? I hope this creates change immediately so no one else has to be treated this way. Her Charter rights are protected as a woman so she certainly has a strong case.

I do think that being sent to a male prison is a big deal - but that isn't clear that is what is happening here. Maplehurst was a male facility that is now called Maplehurst Complex and it is co-ed, but a lot of people think of it as a male correctional facility still (even in police services and immigration) since it is a recent change of Vanier moving cities and merging with Maplehurst (they should have renamed it to prevent this confusion). She is not being held with a general male population that I have read anywhere, have you? My understanding was she was in the co-ed segregated area of the Maplehurst complex. Halton has co-ed single prisioner holding cells so that is not unusual and in my opinion preferable to sharing a cell. I saw she tweeted it was a request for a male wet cell so I am not sure if that was changed.

As far as I am aware, Maplehurst has male and female guards working in both the male and female units, including segregation. The police she will be dealing with are also both male and female. It is a co-ed facility with shared staff.
posted by saucysault at 4:05 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


I do think that being sent to a male prison is a big deal - but that isn't clear that is what is happening here

Every tweet from Avery and from her friends states that she is being detained in a male correctional facility. She is referred to as a man (IE, willfully misgendered) by the guards at this facility. Recent tweets are saying that she will now be moved to a female facility. Don't really know how much more evidence is possible...
posted by muddgirl at 4:09 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


I'm looking forward to Avery's explanation for choosing detainment over sorting out her visa issues before traveling.

My guess is a) choosing to "voluntarily withdraw your application for admission" [I think that's what the official term is], still carries the consequence of having been denied entry to Canada, which will definitely influence future attempts to enter the country, whereas maybe she was hoping that at the hearing they would decide to admit her?, and b) no one started working on where she would be detained pending hearing until she had already made her decision, so I bet it was too late to change her mind once she found out what kind of facilities they were sending her to.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:14 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Expecting prison guards to be sensitive to trans* pronoun usage is, in a word, Quixotic. Prison guards don't do sensitive. At all.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:18 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


I think you are arguing with me despite my being on your side.

Not to continue to argue, but I don't really need anyone on my side here. The skepticism being leveled at Avery (not just from you but from several participants in this thread) does not strike me as particularly lining up with being on her side, which is the only side I actually care about.
posted by scody at 4:18 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


Your "side" being that Avery deliberately violated Canadian immigration laws to make a stand, despite any evidence to this effect except, "No one is that stupid?"

Umm. No. Go back and read what I wrote again. I never said that. I said that -- to me -- the most surprising thing about the story was that she didn't anticipate that this was a likely outcome.

Just as I am surprised that so many people here are apparently learning for the first time that the entire North American immigration system is broken and dehumanizing and completely fucked up -- for all people, regardless of race or gender status or nationality or a million other things.

muddgirl, I don't quite know why what I'm writing is making you angry, but understand that the place I'm coming from is that the entire system needs reform. This one incident is a symptom of a much larger systematic problem. While her situation is bad, it is better than many (largely because of her strong media presence) and is, truthfully, more or less par for the course for most. Here in the US it's pretty easy for the powers that be to sweep "immigration problems" out of the spotlight, as they are happening to "known criminals". I imagine (but don't know for sure) that it's the same in Canada. It takes public incidents like this to cast a spotlight on the ugly, dark corners of the system. I absolutely want to see this particular problem (misgendering) addressed, but the best thing would be if the entire system were to be reformed in order to be more respectful of basic human rights for all people caught up in it.
posted by anastasiav at 4:20 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


five fresh fish: "Expecting prison guards to be sensitive to trans* pronoun usage is, in a word, Quixotic. Prison guards don't do sensitive. At all."

It's not "trans*" pronoun usage. Everyone is entitled to be referred to by the appropriate pronouns, trans or cis.
posted by hoyland at 4:20 PM on February 11 [15 favorites]


muddgirl, I don't quite know why what I'm writing is making you angry, but understand that the place I'm coming from is that the entire system needs reform.

You keep telling us how she should have known better and is oh so silly for having tried to enter Canada. Not the issue here.
posted by hoyland at 4:21 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


Expecting prison guards to be sensitive to trans* pronoun usage is, in a word, Quixotic. Prison guards don't do sensitive. At all.

Well, why not? Why is it so great for us to continue to enable an abusive prison culture - especially when it's not even convicted criminals who we're talking about here, but detainees who range from people who made an honest mistake in overstaying their visas to refugees with a history of suffering under this exact type of bullshit power-complex?

Maybe instead of telling people they should be tempering their reactions to and expectations of undue abuse, we shouldn't be abusing them in the first place?
posted by Conspire at 4:23 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Although Canada's reputation for recognizing homosexual rights is pretty good, efforts to recognize transgendered rights are still very much a work in progress here. Bill C-279, for example, about amending the Human Rights Act and Criminal Code with respect to gender identity issues, is still stuck in the senate and hasn't passed into law yet.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:25 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


You keep telling us how she should have known better and is oh so silly for having tried to enter Canada. Not the issue here.

Is it your position that she should not have reasonably anticipated that this was one possible outcome of her attempt to enter Canada?
posted by anastasiav at 4:26 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I'm sure she'll be interested to hear that she owes you an explanation. Do you expect similar explanations from all other visa violators?

If they're using social media to whip up a storm of upset over the well-known consequences of visa violation, yes. Yes, I do expect a cogent explanation as to why they chose to get themselves incarcerated, instead of playing by the rules.

Not that their rationale will make any difference in the end: border security isn't going to care one whit.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:27 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


being referred to by the appropriate pronouns is basic human decency, and the swiftness with which people will make excuses that certain sub-groups of people just can't be expected to treat others with human decency might be arguably "better" than swiftly insisting that certain groups don't deserve to be treated with human decency, but it is still really gross to me every single time it comes up

"we can't expect people to treat each other decently" is just such a gross and defeatist and... idk. gross. it's a gross idea. i think we absolutely CAN expect decent behavior from everyone, in fact we SHOULD EXPECT everyone to behave decently. it's realistic that not everyone will actually behave but we SHOULD EXPECT people to behave and continue to be disappointed or even upset when those expectations aren't met because WE ARE society, what we expect BECOMES what society expects, and that is how you change society for the better, not by going "oh well you can't really expect people to actually not behave like shitty assholes" and shrugging while you walk away because oh what could anyone possibly do
posted by titus n. owl at 4:28 PM on February 11 [17 favorites]


I wonder if the free travel of the EU has made everyone so casually used to the idea, that younger generation simply don't know the common sense eriko laid out. Heck, when I was a wee lass I had to apply for a tourist visa to France (I'm Swedish). Do not try to re-enter a country where you've overstayed a visa, without first sorting the paperwork out at home. I'm surprised that people are surprised by this, and that the system is called "broken" when there are embassies in every country and most have online application systems so it's only a requirement to travel to the embassy once for the all-important passport stamp. If Avery's Canadian lawyers mislead her, that's terrible, and the blame should be placed with that lawyer first.

I miss passport stamping at European borders. That stuff was fun.
posted by dabitch at 4:28 PM on February 11


Is it your position that she should not have reasonably anticipated that this was one possible outcome of her attempt to enter Canada?

My position is that it's irrelevant whether trying to enter Canada was advisable. I'm not sure what comes of insisting that it is relevant other than blaming trans people for being victimised by systemic discrimination.
posted by hoyland at 4:30 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


This is like a poster child for how not to have a poster child for your movement. There is a lot that needs to be done with jails and prisons, and the treatment of trans* people in jails and prisons, but she isn't sympathetic to me. She chose to be detained, and the authorities are doing so safely before her hearing. Physically and mentally, she will leave this in good shape unless a guard decides to abuse her. Other prisoners will not be so lucky.

It's amazing how minor celebrity and facility online have made this into a minor news story, rather than the suffering and mistreatment of other trans* people.
posted by jsturgill at 4:31 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I don't think Avery has asked to be anyone's poster child.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:32 PM on February 11 [17 favorites]


She chose to be detained,

She did not choose to be misgendered. That's the issue -- and the immediate injustice -- at stake.
posted by scody at 4:34 PM on February 11 [22 favorites]


Perfection is the enemy of progress.

While it would be swell if prison guards respected one's pronoun, absolute reality is that other prison guards issues — like raping prisoners, beating the shit out of prisoners, looking the other way as prisoners getting shanked, etc — need to be solved looong before pronoun use even gets on the list of things to be changed.

Of all the vast many things wrong with prisons, this is the hill you're gonna die on? Absurd.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:35 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Of all the vast many things wrong with prisons, this is the hill you're gonna die on? Absurd.

You don't have to choose hills. There are lots of hills.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:37 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


no one is dying on any hills and some people can be mad about multiple things at once

the existence of worse things does not magically make a bad thing okay
posted by titus n. owl at 4:38 PM on February 11 [53 favorites]


Of all the vast many things wrong with prisons, this is the hill you're gonna die on? Absurd.

Well, no, people who agitate for rights of trans* prisoners to be respected generally agitate for prison reform generally. I'll go tell any trans people I know that they deserve to be at the back of the line.
posted by hoyland at 4:38 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Is it your position that she should not have reasonably anticipated that this was one possible outcome of her attempt to enter Canada?


I'll bite! Keep in mind that I can't actually speak to what she did or didn't anticipate.
Canada has a human rights act, which includes protection on grounds that include gender identity. It applies to all those on Canadian soil.

Therefore,
If she anticipated that all government employees who she interacted with would refrain from misgendering her, that is reasonable.

If she anticipated that, if detained, she would be detained in a woman's centre, that is reasonable.

Both of those are, in my view, obligations of the government based on settled human rights law. It is reasonable to expect the government and its agents to follow the law.

As it turns out, those possible anticipations were wrong. But they were still reasonable.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:42 PM on February 11 [20 favorites]


While it would be swell if prison guards respected one's pronoun, absolute reality is that other prison guards issues — like raping prisoners, beating the shit out of prisoners, looking the other way as prisoners getting shanked, etc — need to be solved looong before pronoun use even gets on the list of things to be changed.

First off, as others have said, you don't have to choose between injustices to care about.

Secondly, a trans man or woman who is imprisoned is at heightened risk of everything (rape, being beaten, not being kept safe from other prisoners) that you argue is somehow more important, especially if he or she has been misgendered and is therefore in the wrong facility. Or are those issues only relevant when cis women and men face them?
posted by scody at 4:43 PM on February 11 [15 favorites]


Of all the vast many things wrong with prisons, this is the hill you're gonna die on? Absurd.

Wait, we are in a thread that is specifically about misgendering and poor treatment of trans* people, and you are getting all insistent that the thread should be about prison reform generally? Is it that absurd to care about the special concerns of trans* people in prison?

There are probably dozens of stories that would make up an FPP about general prison issues; we have had them before. I don't think this is that thread, though....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:47 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


I don't suppose a sense of proportionality might be considered? Being called "he" by the thugs hired as prison guards while one is kept safely segregated from the general population of cis-men and cis-women who would gladly stab you dead for not fitting their binary world view is sure as shit better than not.

I think I've a decent record of supporting trans* causes on MeFi. What I'm seeing in this thread is a lot of hyperbolic upset over what has thus far been a safe, temporary inconvenience in an environment that would normally be a lot worse.

Avery isn't being shanked by a sociopath. Be thankful for that, because if you get your way, it just might happen. Isolation in what might be a men's lockup is better than release into the women's general population.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:48 PM on February 11


I think I've a decent record of supporting trans* causes on MeFi.

It's not some credit you stockpile that allows you to avoid being called out.
posted by hoyland at 4:51 PM on February 11 [34 favorites]


five fresh fish: "What I'm seeing in this thread is a lot of hyperbolic upset"

Look deeper.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:55 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


Being called "he" by the thugs hired as prison guards while one is kept safely segregated from the general population of cis-men and cis-women who would gladly stab you dead for not fitting their binary world view is sure as shit better than not.

Do you not get that misgendering people in a situation with this power dynamic is all too often part of a spectrum of disrespectful, negligent, hostile, or outright violent behavior that can easily escalate into serious danger?
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:04 PM on February 11 [12 favorites]


It's not some credit you stockpile that allows you to avoid being called out.

No, it's encouragement to not dismiss me as a malicious transphobe, and to maybe give a couple seconds thought towards what I'm trying to express.

But fuck me that I'm happy that in the big picture, typically untrustworthy thugs have chosen an imperfect safe solution over one that could get her killed.

I'm out of here. You guys have fun tilting at windmills.

Just don't push so hard that the thugs exact revenge by removing her safety.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:05 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Just don't push so hard that the thugs exact revenge by removing her safety.

Oh, so if she gets assaulted, it's actually Metafilter's fault?

Nice.
posted by scody at 5:06 PM on February 11 [14 favorites]


>It's not some credit you stockpile that allows you to avoid being called out.

You know, I don't always agree with fff, but dammit do we have to subscribe to some sort of groupthink here on MeFi?

Unfortunately, Edison overstayed her visa last time. As Canadians know, CBSA are dicks. I was thoroughly humiliated the last time I returned to Canada because I filled out a customs form the wrong way.

Reading through the Adovcate's take on what happened, and the various Twitter messages, it seems that Edison's treatment is a result of ignorance rather than overt malice, and that, in a clumsy way, efforts are kind of being made to accommodate her needs.

It seems to be symptomatic of the status of transgender folks in Canadian society.

The CBSA is not a particularly pleasant organization. Besides sponsoring reality television programs about "illegals" (where CBSA plays a starring role), the agency also lets detainees commit suicide while in custody.

I can't understand what Edison was thinking when she decided to return to Canada without consulting the High Commission in London first.

But it's just a mistake, and no one, illegal or not, deserves to be locked up. Period.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:07 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


[Folks, I know it's a hard subject; maybe just cool it a little bit in general if possible.]
posted by cortex at 5:08 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure what comes of insisting that it is relevant other than blaming trans people for being victimised by systemic discrimination.

I am certainly not blaming trans people for anything. I think that I stated pretty clearly above that the system is broken for all people, and I'm not going to rehash that, except to say that I don't think the rights of trans people are less or more important than the rights of anyone else. Everyone has the same basic right to be treated with dignity and to have, as the old canard puts it "freedom from fear". Everyone. And I look forward to the day when it is no longer surprising that people held in custody are treated in dehumanizing and dangerous ways, but I'm not holding my breath.

Now I'm going to go put my kid to bed, so you are welcome to pillory me in absentia should you so desire.
posted by anastasiav at 5:13 PM on February 11


Just so it's absolutely clear, this post is here because I wanted to make it, not because Avery asked me to post it (or asked me to do anything, for that matter - we follow each other on Twitter and have interacted a handful of times, but that's it). I did it mostly because I thought this was a story that people here would want to know about, especially because she's relatively known around these parts.

She discussed what was happening in real time on Twitter to people who chose to follow her, which is what people do on social media. The press stuff seems to be a combination of media people who follow her getting interested or people who follow her driving attention at people in the CBC, Jezebel, etc. At the very least, if it was wrong to make a big deal out of this case, blame us, but don't blame her.
posted by Apropos of Something at 5:42 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


OK, so let's grant that Avery is the dumbest, most short-sighted person ever born. Does that justify her being subject to mis-gendering by the Canadian immigration and corrections systems? If that doesn't justify it, then why do we need to talk about how dumb and short-sighted she is?

Is she being misgendered because she's in a correctional facility that handles men? I don't know if that is obvious.

She's being held in isolation, for less than 48 hours. She's being protected from cis inmates, both male and female, who would be likely to hassle her were she in the general population. Literally any reason, like it's 5 minutes closer than the female facility, or it means one less stop by the bus, or whatever, is a good reason to place her there. That would be the case if she were a cis woman as well. Another good reason to place her there would be that there isn't a policy in place, and some actual person had to make a decision in a situation that is complicated and nuanced that they weren't prepared for or trained to handle.

Whoever that person is, they should probably get a gold star and a raise. They made the right decision. They're keeping her safe. No other prisoner in the facility has that luxury unless they too are isolated and a short-term prisoner. Literally no one, or at least that would be the case in the US. Isolation for extended time periods is detrimental; the general population is at least somewhat dangerous even for cisgendered inmates.

She is privileged here even as she is being oppressed, mistreated, and deprived of her liberty. The system recognizes that she has special needs, and they are accommodating those needs.

I totally get that this can be an anger-inducing reminder of the problems trans* people face. The internet isn't going to run out of room anytime soon, so it's fine to be angry about it online--not that anyone needs my permission to do anything.

But as someone who cares about how prisoners are treated, it does tweak me some to see people talk about protesting because of this situation. They won't go out and protest the daily horrors inflicted on unknown masses, but this... this is simply a step too far?
posted by jsturgill at 5:43 PM on February 11 [12 favorites]


They won't go out and protest the daily horrors inflicted on unknown masses, but this... this is simply a step too far?

How do you know what they do and don't protest? I know there are people in this very thread who have worked in many ways for prisoners rights, against the death penalty, etc.
posted by scody at 5:51 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


Whoever that person is, they should probably get a gold star and a raise. They made the right decision.

No they did not. That is why the MP who introduced the trans rights bill into Parliament did what he could to get her transferred; that's why the Human Rights Commission's most recent ruling on the issue, that deciding where to put an inmate needs to be on a case-by-case basis, has as a practical matter generally resulted in a person going where their stated gender should go1; and why she has, in fact, been moved already.

I am not saying this is the worst thing that has happened or currently happens in correctional facilities, or to trans people , but it is something that should not have happened.

1: According to a friend who studied trans rights in law school, I just pinged him to see if he still has sources.

posted by Lemurrhea at 5:56 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


They won't go out and protest the daily horrors inflicted on unknown masses, but this... this is simply a step too far?

Half my fb feed these days is taken up by an intersectional crew of labor, prisoners' rights, lgbtq rights, advocates from and for sex workers, drug users, victims of police violence etc. and this story is among those showing up. You may have sample bias.
posted by rtha at 5:57 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


On not-editing: my bad, the case-by-case rule has generally only put people in their stated place when there's bottom surgery, otherwise they go to segregated spaces like so. But the law does seem to be case-by-case.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:58 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of tired of other people telling trans women where they should be (for example, solitary confinement), how they should feel about it (for example, thankful that they aren't being "shanked by a sociopath"), and how bad certain things are or aren't (for example, that being repeatedly misgendered even despite having jumped through all mandated hoops to have accurate documentation of their gender is some kind of fair tradeoff/not that bad/etc.).
posted by Corinth at 6:05 PM on February 11 [27 favorites]


Well, not to state the blindingly obvious, but there is a lot of nudity behind bars. Public showers, public strip searches, people walking around half-clothed. People in prisons, guards and prisoners alike, aren't generally given a crash course in gender studies. If you're nude in a male prison and you have a penis, people are going to see you as male. If you are in a female prison, they're going to see a male in a female prison.

If you run a prison or a jail, your main goal is to see that the prisoners don't act out. Your primary mission is to restrain, control, and keep order. A prisoners feelings do not, in any way, factor into this. They simply do.not.care.

Put a non-gender conforming person in a situation where that non-conformity is, er, on display, and people will act out. Ergo - from the prison's perspective, the simplest answer is to put people with penises with the other people that have them, and put the people without the penises with the people that don't have them.

It's not about being sensitive, it's about control.

Is it a shitty situation? Yeah. But then again, so is being detained, illegally or otherwise. I'm glad they're moving her (for her own safety and because it's the right thing to do.

Source: I've been to jail some. How those prison guards are acting is exactly how I expect them to act: insensitively and without any regard for her feelings. Because that's what they do to keep the place running as smoothly as possible.
posted by disclaimer at 6:07 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


How those prison guards are acting is exactly how I expect them to act: insensitively and without any regard for her feelings. Because that's what they do to keep the place running as smoothly as possible.

As as sidenote, I recall hearing or reading an interview sometime in the past year where this assumption was challenged by having inmates and guards actually discuss their conflicts in a more neutral setting (I think this was a low- or medium-security prison). And the effect of creating a situation where they both had to interact with each other as human beings with feelings actually lowered the level of conflict between them. Does this ring a bell with anyone else?

posted by scody at 6:15 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


So... she was moved, yes?

I wonder how that came about: was it because she complained while in custody at the airport and it had to go up the chain for someone to decide what to do, or did she have to wait until she arrived at Maplehurst and complain to someone there, or did her partner bring the matter to a politician who stepped in? Perhaps we'll find out tomorrow, after her hearing.
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:18 PM on February 11


Yes; "… Edison is in good health and was moved to the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, Ont., Tuesday night."
posted by scruss at 6:27 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


Sorry for multi-posting, but I found the cases I was talking about, thought I'd link them:

Trans women in prison. Note this is from 2001, so it's going to be a little...outdated. In it, the Tribunal said that "pre-operative transsexual inmates" should not categorically be placed with people who share their "anatomical structures". It turned into a case-by-case that usually ended up with them in such a place, anyways, with bottom surgery being the default turning point.

However, this case from two years ago (in Ontario, whereas the CBSA is federal, so it's not perfect but still) makes very clear that requiring bottom surgery to change the gender on a birth certificate is discriminatory. They mention ideas like guarantors or doctors' letters, but leave it to the ministry to decide just how to fix things (which is standard). That gives me a strong hunch that requiring bottom surgery, even if just in practice, in order to house a trans woman in a woman's facility, would also be discriminatory, for similar reasons.

Just wanted to have them here for posterity's sake.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:30 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Human attentional biases being what they are, we often ignore problems until they affect People Like Us. So thank goodness for Avery and her bad decision: it gives us a shot at fixing a stupid system.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:36 PM on February 11


> She's being protected from cis inmates, both male and female, who would be likely to hassle her were she in the general population. Literally any reason, like it's 5 minutes closer than the female facility, or it means one less stop by the bus, or whatever, is a good reason to place her there. That would be the case if she were a cis woman as well.

If it's deemed necessary to her safety to hold her in isolation, the proper place to do this is the women's prison. How is "literally any reason," no matter how trivial, a good reason to hold any woman (whether cis or trans) within the men's prison instead of the women's prison? What?
posted by desuetude at 6:42 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


You can care about trans people's rights/treatment in the prison system as well as be outraged at the prison system. This isn't a zero-sum game.
posted by Kitteh at 6:43 PM on February 11 [19 favorites]


In this encounter, Avery was first and consistently misgendered by Toronto Airport's Border Service Agents, not "thugs hired as prison guards". The decision about where she should be remanded before her hearing isn't made by guards, either - it's made by Provincial Government Corrections authorities. (Also there is no such thing as the "North American immigration system" - there's half a dozen separate countries, each of which has its own border control system and laws. Canada's immigration system is fucked up in a completely different way from Mexico's or Bermuda's.)

Moreover, on the topic of her "decision to be detained" - she had no access to counsel. I don't think you can really say she chose to be detained so much as she chose to try to see her partner and her lawyer, and to avoid trying to find a friend willing and able to lend her thousands of dollars at short notice.
posted by gingerest at 7:31 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


Put a non-gender conforming person in a situation where that non-conformity is, er, on display, and people will act out. Ergo - from the prison's perspective, the simplest answer is to put people with penises with the other people that have them, and put the people without the penises with the people that don't have them.

Okay, serious question. Let's say you have someone who is XX-chromosomed, who identifies as female, who has been raised as female, who has never "transitioned" to have to be identified as transgender, but who has genitals that are some degree of obviously nonconforming. Should that person be put into a men's prison? Be refused any kind of social contact with others because of nonconformity? The thing is that nobody else gets subject to this kind of scrutiny in placement.

If you have a system such that one person having nonconforming genitals is going to cause some sort of serious problem in the population, you need to start looking at whether the proper response here is, say, instead of deliberately classifying certain detainees as the wrong gender, to actually accord detainees some kind of privacy when bathing. Or whatever. The systemic solution is not to endanger the already marginalized for the sake of maintaining order in the larger population. I say this not because Avery was in huge amounts of danger, perhaps, but because plenty of other trans women in the incarcerated population are. Especially in the US--Canada's got us beat in protections by a long shot, and this still happened. It's terrifying. Getting treated with civility should not depend on what any of your body parts are shaped like. Ever.
posted by Sequence at 7:43 PM on February 11 [12 favorites]


Sequence, I'm not sure I understand your question, are you talking about someone who has Klinefelter syndrome or something else?
posted by dabitch at 9:02 PM on February 11


If it's deemed necessary to her safety to hold her in isolation, the proper place to do this is the women's prison. How is "literally any reason," no matter how trivial, a good reason to hold any woman (whether cis or trans) within the men's prison instead of the women's prison? What?

For 48 hours of isolation before a hearing, I think you should be able to put anyone of any gender in any safe place. With the caveat, of course, that there are appropriate safeguards for health and safety (tampons, medical supervision, whatever).

You don't get points for the words on the sign outside.

I'm kind of tired of other people telling trans women where they should be (for example, solitary confinement), how they should feel about it (for example, thankful that they aren't being "shanked by a sociopath"), and how bad certain things are or aren't (for example, that being repeatedly misgendered even despite having jumped through all mandated hoops to have accurate documentation of their gender is some kind of fair tradeoff/not that bad/etc.).

I'm reporting how I feel; I'm not trying to tell her how she should feel. I'm sure that if I were in her place, I'd have all sorts of anger directed in many directions. I understand the frustration you're speaking about, though only through parallel rather than directly equivalent experiences.

But since I'm me, my thoughts and feelings are lingering more on the effects of her celebrity and internet savvy. Those assets allowed her to generate an uproar over her situation, which was one of physical safety and limited emotional duress, unlike every other inmate in isolation or the general population.

As as sidenote, I recall hearing or reading an interview sometime in the past year where this assumption was challenged by having inmates and guards actually discuss their conflicts in a more neutral setting (I think this was a low- or medium-security prison). And the effect of creating a situation where they both had to interact with each other as human beings with feelings actually lowered the level of conflict between them. Does this ring a bell with anyone else?

This American Life?

How do you know what they do and don't protest? I know there are people in this very thread who have worked in many ways for prisoners rights, against the death penalty, etc.

Most stories about prisons that bubble up into MetaFilter are about much greater abuses and/or people who were not actually guilty of their crimes. This is a very different kind of story.

There may be people who protest some sort of prison atrocity every week, and this is just the most current item on the agenda. If so, that's great. But if these are people who only protest six things a year, say, or one or two, then it feels to me (and yes, this is a totally subjective thing that no one has to agree with) that using one of those slots to make noise for this situation would be a very poor use of your time.
posted by jsturgill at 9:05 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Given the increasingly mean treatment on the part of Canadian immigration officials I've seen at BC's borders,* I'm not really that surprised that she got misgendered by the immigration folk as a first step. It used to be that it was the US side that I dreaded; now I dread re-entering Canada because the experience is so unpleasant and hostile. I figure that there's some limited pool of border guard politeness that means that once one side gets pleasanter (as the US people in Vancouver have), the other side must get worse.

*Including recently seeing an elderly Chinese woman shouted at by a border guard for ten minutes because she didn't understand their questions before they went into the back office to get an interpreter - who was clearly on standby given their instantaneous appearance.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:26 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


dabitch, there are honestly a whole host of things that can result in people designed as either sex at birth having genitals that by adulthood look all sorts of ways, whether what's happened was congenital, environmental, accidental, intentional body modification. Nobody else gets misgendered because their genital appearance might disturb someone else, because that would be inhuman. It's just as inhuman in this case.
posted by Sequence at 9:35 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


If being trans is going to increase the penalties of prison through forced solitary confinement, trans people's sentences should be reduced proportionately. (Edison is not serving a sentence, but with people tossing around the "trans people should be in solitary for their own good all the time no matter what because they're weird" shit, that seems like fair request if we're going to be required to move cis boss's dirt out of cis boss's hole anyway.)

jsturgill: "Those assets allowed her to generate an uproar over her situation, which was one of physical safety and limited emotional duress, unlike every other inmate in isolation or the general population."

Hey, jsturgill? That thing I called people out for? That you said you weren't doing? You're still doing it. Maybe don't say how much duress you're sure she is not experiencing. Just because she's not CeCe McDonald doesn't mean you get to cissplain away her poor treatment. I know pretty well how much duress I'd be feeling in her place, and your saying otherwise wouldn't lessen it.

I'm a trans person who occasionally flies, and this story is like a sharknado of my TSA and justice system fears mashed together. I'm sorry if I am using my time poorly, but the thing you don't seem to understand is that I worry about these things whether or not someone I can relate to is currently living part of that nightmare. I don't have a choice not to worry about them, because, as you can see, they happen. I wish that there were a limit on the things I could worry about and protest - whether it would be six things a year, say, or one or two, it would still be a great relief - but there is not. Pretty much every time I come in contact with an institution with the power to crush me with ignorant bigotry I have to worry about it. It sucks. I wish I could worry and protest less to make the internet a better place for you (or did you want me to worry and protest more, to earn the right to worry and protest about this? - you weren't super clear), but I can't. I'm sorry.

Seriously, it is fucking terrifying handing your passport to someone in a foreign airport and them asking you twice if it is you because you and your passport don't match up anymore and they don't quite get it. I am flying with updated documentation next month and it's almost more scary to think about because now a lot more rides on them gendering me correctly initially and I can't fall back on male privilege and acting indignant to smooth out trouble.
posted by Corinth at 10:17 PM on February 11 [31 favorites]


"trans people should be in solitary for their own good all the time no matter what because they're weird"

Nobody here has said that, and it is uncharitable in the extreme to mischaracterize what people are saying by using quotation marks as if those words had ever been said. Which they weren't.

Either way, I'm calling my MP and MPP tomorrow and giving them an earful.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:40 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Speaking generally (IE: I don't know Avery Edison and my comment isn't about her particular circumstance) and not to say that a trans woman should be held in anything but a female facility where segregated facilities exist: I wonder how a trans woman detained in a woman's prison effects the cis women in the facility. I got to thinking along these lines due to the recent thread on the underwear clad statue. In that thread several commenters stated that because the statue was on the grounds of a women's university a male statue could be triggering or at least more frightening compared to a female statue. That many women's initial reaction would be fear and in some cases extreme reactions to that fear just from seeing what they perceived to be a man in his underwear where they didn't expect it. Obviously that shouldn't impact the detention of the trans person but it's a bit of personal growth for me because I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have been my viewpoint 20 years ago.

I sure am glad I don't run a corrections system. It seems like nothing but wall to wall difficult decisions all revolving around keeping inmates from harming each other (and themselves) while also not putting the entire population in solitary.
posted by Mitheral at 11:01 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


I sure am glad I don't run a corrections system. It seems like nothing but wall to wall difficult decisions all revolving around keeping inmates from harming each other (and themselves) while also not putting the entire population in solitary.

I think if prisons were more humane places then a lot of these problems would be reduced: if we assume that prison violence is inescapable then some prisoners simply must be segregated for their own protection or the protection of others. But we don't make that assumption outside prison - why can't prisoners have a reasonable amount of space and privacy, enough so they can enjoy freedom of association? Surely the detention of Avery Edison shows how silly the situation is: there's no reason to think she's any more dangerous than her fellow passengers. I presume she's being incarcerated to make sure she doesn't flee, but why does she need to be locked up? Put her in a hotel with a tracking device (and a webcam?). It will be cheaper for everyone concerned, and she'll almost certainly be a good deal safer.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:25 PM on February 11


We do make that assumption outside of prison. That is why some people are in prison: because we want to keep them from harming others.

I don't think anyone thinks Avery Edison would be a danger to others rather she is being held in solitary for her protection. Though the policy probably has a bit of protection of other inmates that tied up in it. IE: a trans woman with male features is somehow for some unexamined reason more likely to assault other women in a women's facility. And that a trans man is more likely to be a victim of sexual assault in a men's facility.
posted by Mitheral at 11:49 PM on February 11


Do you have a citation for for that claim? I am having trouble finding information specifically on trans women in women's prisons, but available evidence makes your assertion that trans women are more likely to assault cis women than vice versa seem pretty unlikely.

"A new report by the DOJ in May confirmed that LGBT people face shocking rates of sexual abuse; an analysis of that report by the NCTE shows that more than one in three transgender former inmates was sexually abused. Studies have shown that trans women are 13 times more likely than others to be sexually assaulted while incarcerated."
...

"In a survey of trans people in Washington, DC, 59% of trans women reported being verbally harassed in bathrooms. This included being “told they were in the wrong facility, told to leave the facility, questioned about their gender, ridiculed or made fun of, verbally threatened”, as well as having the police called or being followed after they left. 17% of trans women were denied access to restrooms outright, and 14% were physically assaulted in restrooms."
...

"Statistics on trans people are sparse; one study found that 55% of FtMs and 68% of MtFs have been forced to have sex in their lifetime."
...

"In a study of [trans women] in San Francisco, 59% of the participants (n = 392) experienced forced sex or rape."
...

"70% of trans* people who participated in the survey experienced some form of issue (be it harassment, denial of service, assault, etc) when attempting to use the bathroom. 70% of trans* people. That means almost THREE out of every FOUR trans* people will have some form of issue using the bathroom.

“Fifty-four percent of respondents reported having some sort of physical problem from trying to avoid using public bathrooms, all of whom reported that they “held it” to avoid public restrooms.” Over half of the trans* people in the survey experienced MEDICAL ISSUES due to not being able to access bathrooms. Unsurprisingly, people of color were more likely to experience verbal and physical violence when trying to access the bathrooms. While trans men and non-binary people who are FAAB seem to be more likely to experience being verbally assaulted, yelled at, and so on, trans women were almost three times more likely to be physically assaulted (14% compared to 5% for trans men) and 5% more likely to be assaulted than non-binary FAAB people (14% compared to 9%).

The study does not state which bathrooms these trans* people were trying to enter."

...

"Trans* women who are forced to live in men’s prisons also have to face the humiliation of having to pretend to be the wrong gender. In many prisons, trans* women are forced to cut their hair and are not allowed any gender appropriate clothes. For many trans* women who already might suffer from depression and/or dysphoria, this is another burden they are forced to bear. Report after report has found that trans* people suffer higher rates of harassment, bullying and assault than other inmates, and this especially true of trans* women that are forced to live in men’s prisons."

We have data that shows that trans people are more likely to be harassed or assaulted than cis people in prison, and we have data that shows that trans people are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of harassment and assault in bathrooms. I do not specifically have something that directly contradicts your claim about trans women in women's prison, but it seems really shaky at best and irresponsible at worst to suggest that trans women with or without "male features" are more likely to assault other women in a women's prison.
posted by Corinth at 12:32 AM on February 12 [10 favorites]


I forgot the obvious National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Prison stats start on page 158. They show outsized rates of violence against trans people, but do not specifically mention trans women in women's prisons.
posted by Corinth at 1:09 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Corinth: "available evidence makes your assertion that trans women are more likely to assault cis women than vice versa seem pretty unlikely"

I am not asserting it. Not in any way. And I have no data to support it because I'm not asserting it. I don't have an opinion one way or the other. I'm saying that the people who made the policy (note: Not Me) on how to assign trans individuals probably had that thought as a consideration when setting policy either explicitly or sub-consciously. And no I don't have a cite for that either; I just think it is a reasonable guess at one of many factors that was considered when policy was set considering, IMO, they set the policy wrong.

And personally I think that all bathrooms should be unisexual; gender segregated bathrooms are old fashioned and cause more problems then they solve IMO (no cite for that either).

PS: linking entire paragraphs of text makes the text really hard to read.

Corinth: "it seems really shaky at best and irresponsible at worst to suggest that trans women with or without "male features" are more likely to assault other women in a women's prison."

I really want to emphasize that I wasn't trying to suggest this.
posted by Mitheral at 1:22 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I will say that that's how I initially read Mitheral's post, too, but I'm glad to see that's not how it was intended. In that context, yes, I'm sure that's how somebody justifies it to themselves, but those are also usually the same somebodies who think that trans women are just plain not actually women, and so I don't think the specifics really require examining all that closely.
posted by Sequence at 2:03 AM on February 12


I really want to emphasize that I wasn't trying to suggest this.

That's good, but it's worth knowing that "trans* women represent a serious threat of assault for cis women" is a pretty common theme in transphobic rhetoric, so a little pushback is unsurprising.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:18 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


"You mean there might actually be some sort of equality and rights issue for which the United States doesn't actually come out looking like complete Nazis when compared to Canada?"

Yeah, except on trans* prison issues we still look like total Nazis compared to Canada. They fucked up this time; we fuck up pretty much as a matter of policy.


Oh, I'm totally with you, thus the surprise, but quite strangely enough, in this rare and very particular instance of transgendered people in immigration detention we actually have some very new policies that are miraculously on the moral and ethical side of things for once! It's like the one tiny ray of light (like a tiny little LED flicker) in an otherwise truly barbarous track record.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:56 AM on February 12


Corinth: We have data that shows that trans people are more likely to be harassed or assaulted than cis people in prison, and we have data that shows that trans people are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of harassment and assault in bathrooms

So is temporary holding in isolation a resonable attempt to protect Edison or a heinous act of discrimination?
posted by spaltavian at 5:29 AM on February 12


So is temporary holding in isolation a resonable attempt to protect Edison or a heinous act of discrimination?

Yes.

Seriously, it could go either way depending on context. It is a way to hold her in a safer environment and it is also a way to give her harsher treatment. I hope of course for her sake that she is getting this treatment for the right reasons, and I suspect that given the publicity surrounding her detention at this point that she is receiving the best treatment possible under the circumstances short of "parole". The Canadian authorities have already given their PR people plenty to do with their ham handedness, I don't think they want anything to happen to her in their custody. Canada isn't exactly a place where you would likely receive worse treatment for embarrasing the regime like say Iran or Egypt, so continued action by us on the outside to publicise what's happening is a good thing in her case.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:46 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


"(for instance, DUI automatically excludes you from Canada, no exceptions)"

A point of information. This is not true. It depends on the amount of time that has passed since the offense - five years as I recall. I'm an American who had a DUI in 1987 and was married to a Canadian and resided in Canada for more than two years and crossed the border numerous times.
posted by vapidave at 5:52 AM on February 12


The DUI offense is now 10 years from when the offense occurred. If you plan on residing in Canada for any amount of time, you have to go through rebabilitation. (Married to a Canadian and a PR residing in Quebec here, so yeah, we spent a lot of money doing that because they were not going to let me in otherwise.)

/end of derail
posted by Kitteh at 6:19 AM on February 12


you have to go through rebabilitation

I'm picturing a dimly lit meeting in a Church basment somewhere in northern New Hampshire...

"Hi, I'm Carl and I'm a guy that stupidly drank too much one time back in college and drove and is now married to a Canadian."

"Hi, Carl!"
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:28 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


God, I wish. It's mostly endless paperwork, money, background security checks, fingerprints, and more or less a promise THAT YOU WILL NEVER EVER DO THAT AGAIN.
posted by Kitteh at 7:05 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Hey, jsturgill? That thing I called people out for? That you said you weren't doing? You're still doing it. Maybe don't say how much duress you're sure she is not experiencing. Just because she's not CeCe McDonald doesn't mean you get to cissplain away her poor treatment. I know pretty well how much duress I'd be feeling in her place, and your saying otherwise wouldn't lessen it.

She's physically safe except from the guards. The well documented psychological and emotional stress of solitary confinement does not apply in this situation, which is short-term, for a clearly understood reason, with a hard deadline for ending, and with people who care about her who know where she is and in contact with her.

You're being detained against your will. That is stressful and involves duress for everyone, cis or trans*. I'm not saying at all that it's not stressful, or that it's wrong to be frustrated at systems of power that, yet again, don't handle you with dignity and respect, through no fault of your own.

What I am saying is that simply having real safety places her in a rare position when being detained. For someone who has lost the right to control where their body is going to be placed, she has it as good as anyone ever does outside of a civilized country like, say, Norway. She's safe, physically and mentally, in a way that no one else in that facility is. That is the facility's mandate (rehabilitation not being relevant for this detention), and she is probably the only person there that they are actually meeting that mandate for.

She is also a white, attractive, educated minor celebrity who understands the levers of power and has managed to create an uproar online to improve her situation. Turning the story of her detainment into a story of oppression by a system that refuses to recognize her as a human being seems factually wrong at a basic level, given that no one disputes why she is being detained or that she is being detained safely (you don't dispute that, do you?).

What do I gain from trying to share my perspective here? Not much. In fact, she's probably going to read this thread at some point, and I'm not 100% comfortable with that. She seems like a smart and nice person who has to deal with lots of crap because of her gender, through no fault of her own.

Hopefully when she's out she can get more calls in to more representatives for more problems than the problem of which wing of the facility she's going to be held in isolation for the next 12 hours.
posted by jsturgill at 8:23 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


There may be people who protest some sort of prison atrocity every week, and this is just the most current item on the agenda. If so, that's great. But if these are people who only protest six things a year, say, or one or two, then it feels to me (and yes, this is a totally subjective thing that no one has to agree with) that using one of those slots to make noise for this situation would be a very poor use of your time.

I don't understand this at all. If someone is only going to protest six things, this should not be one of the six things? Even if it's a thing they care about? That people should only protest this particular thing if they're Serious Prisoners' Rights activists, and if they're not, they should....go someplace else and not care? I'm really not understanding your point. This reads to me very much like an activist version of "I liked this band before they were cool, and other people like them for the wrong reasons in the wrong way."

Everyone starts somewhere. Every activist had their first OMG THIS IS TERRIBLE moment or issue that made them start being an activist. What's happening to Avery may well be that for a lot of people, and I'm having a hard time saying that's a bad thing, even if some or many drift off after this specific incident is resolved.
posted by rtha at 8:40 AM on February 12 [8 favorites]


I don't understand this at all. If someone is only going to protest six things, this should not be one of the six things? Even if it's a thing they care about? That people should only protest this particular thing if they're Serious Prisoners' Rights activists, and if they're not, they should....go someplace else and not care? I'm really not understanding your point. This reads to me very much like an activist version of "I liked this band before they were cool, and other people like them for the wrong reasons in the wrong way."

Everyone starts somewhere. Every activist had their first OMG THIS IS TERRIBLE moment or issue that made them start being an activist. What's happening to Avery may well be that for a lot of people, and I'm having a hard time saying that's a bad thing, even if some or many drift off after this specific incident is resolved.


That sentence was, I admit, a terrible attempt to communicate on my part. If someone is encouraged from this incident to be more politically active and aware, then it will be totally worth it forever and ever amen.

Let me try to restate my thought with more clarity.

We live in a world of tragedies and horrors, and I find it disconcerting to see which horrors get traction and which don't. This particular problem is being experienced by someone with many different kinds of privilege who also belongs to an unprivileged class. It's frustrating to see those privileges being used to resolve her problem, when even if left alone the problem would resolve itself in no more than 48 hours. This is in marked contrast to many problems being experienced by many people who do not have those privileges.

White people problems, first world problems, rich people problems--these are all destructive and divisive ideas. But they exist as concepts because they reflect an underlying desire for proportionality that is very human and, if directed properly, may not be a bad thing.

To the extent that this diverts energy that could be directed towards other problems, I find it problematic. To the extent that this reflects the different systems of justice experienced by the white, the educated, the well known, and the internet savvy, I find it problematic.

To the extent that it is a springboard for larger change within prisons in general, or change to how trans* people are treated in prisons, I find it awesome. To the extent that it introduces people to activism and is a gateway to further agitation on all sorts of issues, I find it awesome.

I don't begrudge her using any and all tools at her disposal to improve her situation.
posted by jsturgill at 8:58 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


I came at this not as a trans person in the wrong prison, but as a wrongful immigration detention thing before I read through the Storify where Avery lays out the reasons for detention quite clearly and takes responsibility for having put herself in that predicament. She also notes that being questioned by immigration is no picknick at all for ESL people.

"This, of course, is still fairly tame. I’ve seen ESL people HUMILIATED today, and I’m sure I’ll see worse in the detention centre."

Hearing that she's in solitary, heck even reading her own gallows humor tweets about a "wet room", and seeing comments in this thread shows that Avery is safe and doing OK. She's much much more privileged than others who are being processed through the same system if putting people "In prison" is the norm for visa-infractions as it does indeed seem to be. Families possibly detained in separate facilities with children in one and parents in two others, for example, and just the idea of detaining a possible immigrant without all their papers in order together with someone who was just arrested for a violent crime is scary to me.

I hope she doesn't get too bored now that her visit quota has been used, and safe travels in the future. All things considered, she's kind of lucky to get her "like a hotel" room, even though I'm sure it's not very hotel like at all.
I hope this doesn't come off as callous, I'm just happy she's OK and concerned about the big picture of incarnating immigrants with criminals here...
posted by dabitch at 9:27 AM on February 12


> For 48 hours of isolation before a hearing, I think you should be able to put anyone of any gender in any safe place.

But this contradicts the whole point of gender-segregated facilities.

The system is not set up as a) one facility for male inmates plus isolation for any gender, and then b) another facility for the general population of female inmates plus isolation for any gender. There's no established practice of using the men's isolation cells for female prisoners or vice-versa as a matter of convenience.
posted by desuetude at 9:30 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I take your nuanced point, Jsturgill, and I agree with you.

just the idea of detaining a possible immigrant without all their papers in order together with someone who was just arrested for a violent crime is scary to me.

Agreed. It's mostly a question of budget, resources, and priority. It is far from ideal but it's unlikely to gain tractioned opposition because it only affects a small proportion of people who are almost entirely non-constituents. As long as these people are offered at least a pro forma opportunity to turn around and leave immediately rather than being detained, I don't think you'll see any groundswell.
posted by cribcage at 9:49 AM on February 12


To the extent that this diverts energy that could be directed towards other problems, I find it problematic.

This presumes two things I find problematic: That people who weren't activists at all before this, but now care about what happens to Avery, would have directed their energies elsewhere anyway; and, that people who are sending emails to Canadian officials about Avery aren't also doing things about other terrible situations.

And....there's always going to be a More Terrible Problem (according to someone). I can guarantee that there are people out there who think attention and time and energy given to CeCe McDonald's situation should have been pointed to Even Worse Thing. There's a mefite who's been disappeared in the Iranian prison system since 2008, and I'd bet money that there are people on this site who had never before given much thought to Iranian political prisoners who now care because a fellow mefite is one, and who may have carried that caring over into political prisoners in general, regardless of their status as mefites. And I'd bet money that yet other mefites want that energy and caring to go someplace they think is more important.

Basically, you're never going to win by telling people they're Doing Activism Wrong by focusing on something that's not "important" - because they think it's important (or they wouldn't be doing it). That will not get them to focus their attention elsewhere. In my experience, it's a longer, more difficult, and more nuanced process to get people to go from [caring about particular thing] to [caring about context that created particular thing], and people don't go there when they're told to stop caring about minor thing because they're just wasting their energy. They just get defensive and irritated.
posted by rtha at 9:58 AM on February 12 [13 favorites]


I don't begrudge her using any and all tools at her disposal to improve her situation.

Just to hit my point above again: she (Avery) hasn't done anything. Her partner has done several things. Lots of people have done a lot to spread awareness on this stuff. I have posted to Metafilter. But other than using Twitter for the perfectly normal practice of describing her life during a period of duress, Avery has been unable to communicate publicly with the outside world in a way that suggests she's drumming up any kind of campaign.
posted by Apropos of Something at 9:59 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


Is this tragedy on par with, oh, say, the tens of thousands of people being displaced by maurading Christian militias in the Central African Republic? No, not really, and I wouldn't really think that many people outside of Avery's immediate circle would find it even close (and maybe even Avery herself). Does that mean that it isn't worth sharing in a tweet to draw attention to her crappy situation? No. Does that mean that folks in Ontario shouldn't shoot an email to their MP? Nope. There are different levels of involvement to deal with the myriad horrors of modern life. In this particular case, the best course of action for the majority of people outside the immediate circle of folks involved is to publicize the situation, lend support, and follow-up with trying to educate ourselves and others about the kinds of injustices and oppression faced by transgendered people all over the world.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:14 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Just to hit my point above again: she (Avery) hasn't done anything. Her partner has done several things. Lots of people have done a lot to spread awareness on this stuff. I have posted to Metafilter. But other than using Twitter for the perfectly normal practice of describing her life during a period of duress, Avery has been unable to communicate publicly with the outside world in a way that suggests she's drumming up any kind of campaign.

Just to clarify my point, Avery's loving partner, the lots of people spreading awareness about her situation, and your post to metafilter, are all examples of resources she has that others don't.
posted by jsturgill at 10:15 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Hey, Mitheral - sorry. GenjiandProust had the right of it. That's such a common trope that I kind of automatically refute it, whether it's for the person saying it or any number of people reading along at home. It can be hard to tell how it's meant.

The NTDS linked above makes the following policy recommendation, among others:
Jail and prison systems need written policies on transgender and gender non-conforming inmates, to ensure they are housed according to their gender identity, unless their safety is jeopardized by this classification; however, this does not mean transgender and gender non-conforming inmates should be held in solitary confinement or administrative segregation or otherwise have their privileges reduced in a misguided attempt to keep them safe.
I don't feel that it is sound policy to say that trans people's safety is always jeopardized by being housed among other similarly-gendered inmates and therefore all trans people go immediately to solitary without passing Go and collecting $200. This is apparently not how it works, but I'd have expected Edison to be held in a relatively non-prisony light security complex along with other people who had committed similarly nonviolent technical immigration violations that are typically resolved quickly. I would not expect to be institutionally misgendered and treated like some confusing enigma while ignorant cis people with authority "debate" what should be done with me.


jsturgill: "For someone who has lost the right to control where their body is going to be placed, she has it as good as anyone ever does outside of a civilized country like, say, Norway. She's safe, physically and mentally, in a way that no one else in that facility is."

dabitch: "I hope she doesn't get too bored now that her visit quota has been used, and safe travels in the future. All things considered, she's kind of lucky to get her "like a hotel" room, even though I'm sure it's not very hotel like at all. I hope this doesn't come off as callous, I'm just happy she's OK and concerned about the big picture of incarnating immigrants with criminals here..."

Hey, just a heads up, but that absolutely does come off as callous. You seem to be under the impression that being trans in Avery's situation is a magic ticket to a uniquely safe and lucky incarceration experience. For one, you're completely ignoring how much being misgendered, especially by people with power and governments, hurts. Furthermore, this utopic experience you say she's privileged to have is overwhelmingly not the norm for trans people in the justice system. If I had the choice of dealing with it as a cis person or a trans person, I would choose cis person every time.
posted by Corinth at 10:15 AM on February 12 [13 favorites]


To the extent that this diverts energy that could be directed towards other problems, I find it problematic

If we are seriously competing in the "I Have Correctly Identified the Most Pressing Matter Facing Humanity" Olympics, I'm pretty sure the winners aren't the people writing Metafilter comments about how other people's Metafilter comments aren't an optimal use of time.

This comment, on the other hand...
posted by leopard at 10:16 AM on February 12 [9 favorites]


You seem to be under the impression that being trans in Avery's situation is a magic ticket to a uniquely safe and lucky incarceration experience. For one, you're completely ignoring how much being misgendered, especially by people with power and governments, hurts. Furthermore, this utopic experience you say she's privileged to have is overwhelmingly not the norm for trans people in the justice system. If I had the choice of dealing with it as a cis person or a trans person, I would choose cis person every time.

I don't think I expressed any sentiment that her experience was magical, utopic, or even particularly lucky. If I did, wow. What a jerk thing for me to say. I do think she is safe right now, and that her situation would be a really sucky thing to have to go through.

I completely agree that it is better to be incarcerated as a cis person than a trans person. There's a huge list of reasons why posted earlier in this thread by someone you are very close to (yourself!). Thankfully the risks were recognized by the system and she was not put in a dangerous situation.
posted by jsturgill at 10:20 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Institutional discrimination: it's for your own good!
posted by Corinth at 10:30 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, I would add that in this particular case, the folks posting here have perhams more ability through the use of this forum and media to influence the outcome of the events. Well placed communications to provincial and Canadian Federal officials by voters are way more influential in a case like this than a larger, more distant situation. The best outcome in this case is a policy change that is more fair and equitable to people in every gender category and immigration status in Canada. The outcome in other, more serious, situations is what? Well placed emails, MeFi posts, and tweets aren't going to bring people back from the dead in Syria or topple the Ukrainian oligarchs or, closer to the gender issues, make the thugs in Russia suddenly stop beating up LGBTI folks on the streets, but they could actually do some good in this case.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:31 AM on February 12


Institutional discrimination: it's for your own good!

I do think being in isolation was for her own good. Perhaps being in general detention with female prisoners being detained for nonviolent crimes would be better? That's a real question. You posted a ton of information suggesting otherwise.

Is she being held in isolation at the new prison as well, or is she in with the general population? Does it matter? Is the isolation part of the outcry, or just the location of the cell?

I'm happy that she was able to get the problem resolved. I'm happy that it raised awareness.

I continue to think it's problematic that attractive, white, educated celebrities with internet savvy are listened to, their needs are met, their problems are validated, they are supported. Politicians respond. Changes are made. Errors are corrected--for her.

It's not a zero-sum game. You don't need to solve all the problems at once. I think I expressed that previously, if you read what I wrote. But helping attractive people who look like you, talk like you, think like you, and experience problems you can relate to is an easy thing to do. It's a dynamic as old as the hills, and it's easy to stop after you've won that one fight. Meanwhile, there's still work to be done once they've moved on. Lots and lots of ugly, pressing problems that need attention very few want to give.
posted by jsturgill at 10:48 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


helping attractive people who look like you, talk like you, think like you, and experience problems you can relate to is an easy thing to do.

Especially when you are in a position to help them as opposed to some distant victim of horrors that you throw some money at under the fiction that you are "doing something" and really just solve your own issues of guilt. But hey, at least once you've Freed Tibet and Saved Darfur you can make some heroic posts about it and put people doing anything in their local area in their lowly place because those First World Problems are but trivial wastes of time.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:20 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot, I believe I've been polite when I've talked about my thoughts and feelings in this thread and fair when I've characterized others' views. I also genuinely believe that selective engagement with easy issues, driven by the privilege of the sufferer rather than need of the sufferer, is a real problem that is complicated and interesting and important.

Do I really deserve to be engaged with the way you're choosing to with that last comment? Is that really an accurate characterization of my words?
posted by jsturgill at 11:31 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


You only need to go read the comments on this story anywhere else on the internet if you're truly worried that Edison is absorbing too much of people's empathy or activism energy. I assure you that trans women (even "attractive, white, educated" ones) are getting their hate allotment properly filled from this incident, and that many commenters want her thrown in a men's prison forever and her female documentation revoked. I assure you that these people are unlikely to redirect their progressive efforts away from causes you care about to Avery Edison and the treatment of trans inmates in Canada.
posted by Corinth at 11:47 AM on February 12 [12 favorites]


...and the treatment of trans inmates in Canada

Did anything I write indicate I'm unconcerned about the treatment of trans inmates in Canada, or that it would be a bad thing to focus energy towards that cause?

I did not intend to do so. If there's anything I intended to do, it was to spend a little bit of time discussing how this story came to be a story at all, how that reflects Avery Edison's privillege, and the ramifications of that on others who need help but don't have that privillege.
posted by jsturgill at 11:59 AM on February 12


You think it's fair to characterize people who are pissed about this as caring about it just because it's easy, since they* are white and attractive, like Avery?

*Which is to say, we, here in this thread. We are among those you are characterizing in this way. And I don't understand why you think that could possibly be a fair or accurate characterization.
posted by rtha at 12:02 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Just speaking for someone who works at an LGBT civil rights org, our fundraising comes almost entirely from attractive people in relatable problems, and then we funnel that money toward ugly weirdos who have ugly weird problems, e.g. we still get money for marriage stuff even though that's pretty well solved in California, so we use that for trans youth and prison advocacy and AIDS policy and weird-ass tax law and census stuff…

So I have a hard time getting all het up about only helping the attractive folks since it's just a daily reality. If you can think of a way to change that, I'm all ears.
posted by klangklangston at 12:08 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


jsturgill --

You keep doubling down on all of us because we are Still Not Paying Attention to Other Problems the Way You Want Us To. Despite the fact the majority of us do and have. You bring up the same points over and over again about how we're only paying attention to Avery Edison's plight because she is an white woman who happened to tweet the horrible thing happening to her even though other posters keep telling you that this is not a zero-sum game. You're measuring us against your weird yardstick and cissplaining and yeah, there's bound to be some pushback. I honestly think you are no longer participating in this thread in good faith.
posted by Kitteh at 12:14 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Update from her partner's twitter: she's being sent back to the UK on a flight tomorrow, fortunately without an exclusion order.

[So, it looks like it was a departure order, which really is the best kind of removal order among the possible outcomes]
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:17 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


then we funnel that money toward ugly weirdos who have ugly weird problems

Lord have mercy, how can I get on THAT gravy train?!?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:18 PM on February 12 [10 favorites]


You keep doubling down on all of us because we are Still Not Paying Attention to Other Problems the Way You Want Us To. Despite the fact the majority of us do and have. You bring up the same points over and over again about how we're only paying attention to Avery Edison's plight because she is an white woman who happened to tweet the horrible thing happening to her even though other posters keep telling you that this is not a zero-sum game. You're measuring us against your weird yardstick and cissplaining and yeah, there's bound to be some pushback. I honestly think you are no longer participating in this thread in good faith.

Those bits in itallics that keep cropping up in my comments? Those are things other people have said. A good portion of them are mischaracterizations of what I've written.

Since I've been mischaracterized again and again, I've clarified again and again. And I've done so politely, striving for clarity and assuming good faith. I don't think I've been given the same charity. Cissplaining is not a neutral term, nor is it neutral to sarcastically assume the worst possible interpretation of someone else's position rather than the best.

Genuinely hurts to hear you say that I'm not participating in good faith. I've been trying pretty damn hard to present my perspective without shitting up the thread.
posted by jsturgill at 12:28 PM on February 12 [10 favorites]


Avery's partner reports that Avery will be flown home to the UK tomorrow night with no exclusionary notice on visiting Canada in the future. "Apart from being able to take her home & let the visit proceed as planned, this is the best possible outcome. I'm thrilled."
posted by Apropos of Something at 12:42 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Just to clarify my point, Avery's loving partner, the lots of people spreading awareness about her situation, and your post to metafilter, are all examples of resources she has that others don't.

As general practice, I express concern when something unfortunate happens to someone who has been kind to me in the past. I'm still not positive how I should have behaved differently.
posted by Apropos of Something at 12:46 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I think the case to contrast with Avery's treatment would be the treatment of Lucia Vega Jimenez at the hands of the CBSA just a month ago. So to capture my reading of jsturgill's points, I think there is honestly a lot to be said about privilege here - and even Avery admitted this herself in her tweets comparing her situation to that of ESL workers. Thus, I don't think the characterization of jsturgill's comments as "you should be caring about this instead" is entirely fair - I think we can acknowledge how Avery was discriminated against in the system because she was a trans woman, yes, but at the same time we can also have a discussion about her privilege as a white, middle-class and conventionally attractive woman in the larger context of migrant and refuge abuse.

Harsha Walia, the founder of the Vancouver Chapter of No One is Illegal, posted this on her facebook yesterday:
    super messed up and deeply transmisogynist that a transgendered woman was placed into a men's provincial prison by CBSA. though reading her twitter, she seems to be getting (relatively of course) unique treatment by prison guards and CBSA officials - who are seemingly shocked she is detained at all, who are allowing her free calls on cell phones (usually you have to call collect to a landline), immediate access to call legal counsel and to have visitors, and being able to tweet so far into it (apparently in plain sight) until being put into jail. so yeah let's acknowledge white privilege/western passport privilege/liberal outroar (MP's all of a sudden speaking about CBSA - um Lucia any of you?) obviously no one should be detained or in prison and i am overall of course glad that she is getting lots of support - as she should - and that the horrific oppressive practices of the CBSA (and prison/detention centers in general) is getting out to those otherwise unaware/shielded from it, but shit i just gotta say, i'm sure every migrant and refugee of colour would be lucky to get one free call out. i know i would have been.
To expand on Walia's concerns, here's what I'm concerned about: are we now setting up Avery as the symbol/spokeswoman of trans prison justice, without her consent?

I see several cases where this argument could be made. For instance, the fact that "Free Avery" was immediately set up as the slogan of the entire issue. But that feels bizarrely appropriative, in the lines of "Free Cece" or "Free Marissa". But Avery is being detained for reasons that even she admits to be valid. Furthermore, she is free to go at any time if she waives her hearing - and not even financially bound because multiple people have offered to pay for her airfare. She's under the public eye, under the shelter of political parties with virtually no political controversy to speak of, and being treated with tremendous amount of care. She was given prison visits; she was given calls from her cellphone; allowed to tweet in front of officers.

And now, there's multiple protests set up on Facebook rallying around "Free Avery" across Canada, some of which are occurring today even. Even after the news of her being moved to a women's facility. Even after the news of MPs drafting policies. Even after the news of her getting a plane ticket back with no exclusionary notice.

So if we have set her up to be the symbol of trans prison justice, we couldn't have chosen a more inappropriate person to rally behind. Why did we choose a white, middle-class, conventionally attractive, young, English-speaking person? Why did we choose to rally behind someone who wasn't even incarnated - and could step away (abet with some repercussions) at any time? Someone who had the full force of politicians behind her - and no political controversy to speak of? Someone who admits to have been treated well, who acknowledged the relative privilege she had over people of color in the process, who acknowledged that she was at fault for breaking the law and had a right to be detained even if it was traumatic - to the point that it doesn't even seem consensual in how we've elevated her to this position?

I feel like this incident, and our choice in making Avery a symbol of trans prison justice - and indeed, for many, the symbol of trans prison justice - says more about our movements and our privilege than it does about hers.
posted by Conspire at 12:49 PM on February 12 [19 favorites]


But helping attractive people who look like you, talk like you, think like you, and experience problems you can relate to is an easy thing to do.

At this point, this thread is turning rather into one member vs the rest, but it seems germane to note that it is demonstrably the case that trans people don't get an easy ride even on MetaFilter - there are fairly regular MetaTalk threads about the treatment of trans issues and trans people on MetaFilter. And MetaFilter is probably, despite these problems, still by and large on the fluffy end of general society on trans issues.

(See the recent Caleb Hannan/Ann Vanderbilt issue, where the white, middle-class, educated, broadly liberal bien pensant staff of Grantand had to be told, at some length, that outing a trans woman was not actually cool, and can still represent that action, and the subsequent suicide of the woman in question, as a tough situation for a young, cisgender, male writer to have to confront rather than, say, a catastrophic failure of institutional controls.)

I don't think it's a given that any general audience believes universally that trans people look/talk/think/experience problems "like us" - and it's possible to acknowledge that while also acknowledging that other vulnerable groups are vulnerable in other ways.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:01 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


Conspire, if her case leads to a change in policy then it's good, right? You take the win, even if a win under different circumstances would have been more morally virtuous. If I can repurpose a Latin tag: victoria non olet.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:10 PM on February 12


Avery's partner on Twitter:
.@aedison Now this is over, next goal is making sure this can never happen again to any other trans men or women. #FreeAvery #AverysFree
I don't know who this "we" is that is making Avery a symbol of anything. Far be it from me to make that call.

But what makes me really sad is that, no matter what anyone says, she's going to read this. A member of our (supposed) community is going to come into a thread that says paying attention to what happened to her was inappropriate, that she was stupid because she tried to visit some people she loved, and that any trans* person who does anything will ultimately be judged by how well their tally of privilege contributes to the broader movement. Talk about missing the trees for the forest.

Because she'll see that, I now recognize this post was a mistake. This site's worse because I gave that a platform. But, wow, if that's what happens when I make a post about a member of this community, our community, being arrested and having a hard time? Well, I don't know how much I can trust this community anymore.

I'm sure she'll get a real boost, though, because jsturgill thinks she's attractive. That'll definitely make up for things.
posted by Apropos of Something at 1:29 PM on February 12 [19 favorites]


paying attention to what happened to her was inappropriate

Didn't say that or imply it.

that she was stupid because she tried to visit some people she loved

Didn't say that or imply it.

any trans* person who does anything will ultimately be judged by how well their tally of privilege contributes to the broader movemen

Didn't say that or imply it.

I'm sure she'll get a real boost, though, because jsturgill thinks she's attractive. That'll definitely make up for things.

Deeply unfair way to characterize what I've posted.
posted by jsturgill at 1:34 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


Honestly, I think there's this weird sort of "but I just wanted to say x" thing that happens sometimes in conversations where, okay, you wanted to say x but it's worth recognizing that (a) this was a discussion about y, not x and (b) the implication that people talking about y don't care about x is unfounded, and (c) repeatedly reasserting x in the middle of that conversation about y when people blink at you is not the best way to be an ambassador for x.

jsturgill, I believe you that you don't particularly mean to come off as button-pushing here, but you need to believe and understand that that's how you have been coming off. The first misunderstanding is where "huh, that's not what I meant" makes sense; the fifth or sixth in a row is a pretty good sign that there's an actual active mismatch between your intentions and what you are actually communicating. Maybe leave it at this as having said what you wanted to say and let it drop?
posted by cortex at 1:42 PM on February 12 [13 favorites]


jsturgill isn't saying half of the things people here seem to think jsturgill is saying. I'll leave the rest alone as I'm not as good at expressing myself as jsturgill is so I'll only dig myself into a much deeper hole.

Avery's departure order is a really good outcome thanks for the update.
posted by dabitch at 1:45 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


Apropos of something: The reactions you were hoping for sound like they would come from a support group, not Metafilter.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:51 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


I'm sure she'll get a real boost, though, because jsturgill thinks she's attractive. That'll definitely make up for things.

If anything has undermined this thread, it's these nakedly dishonest distortions. You're right about the post through, it's outrage filter, not best of the web.
posted by spaltavian at 1:58 PM on February 12 [10 favorites]


Jsturgill probably should have walked away before the thread became what it has, but I don't find his contributions coming across as button-pushing. If anything deserves admonishment, it's the belief that it is constructive or even okay to respond to disagreeable opinions—his or anyone else's—in tense threads with sarcasm.

But, wow, if that's what happens when I make a post about a member of this community, our community, being arrested and having a hard time? Well, I don't know how much I can trust this community anymore.

In fairness to the community, you posted it on MetaFilter and not MetaTalk. We have no way of knowing but I think you'd have gotten a different reaction if you had posted this as a MeTa. Posting it there could have framed the conversation as, "Let's help this community member." By posting it here, the framing is distinctly wider.

I'm sorry you regret making the post. Having said that, I agree and I flagged it. I doubt I was the only one, which means presumably the mods made a conscious decision to let it stand. I agree it's unfortunate that a member of the community might return to find anything but solidarity for their personal well-being.
posted by cribcage at 1:59 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


I hope that when she reads the thread, she notices that the vast majority of commenters here were very supportive of her. I hope she counts me in that lot. She seems like a funny, nice person, and I'm glad it worked out. I wish Apropos of Something read me a bit more charitably, but I don't think they did anything wrong in publicizing the situation or working to get it improved, either.
posted by jsturgill at 2:08 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


[A couple comments removed, I seriously don't know what is up with this thread but please cool it a little and if you feel an active need to have a metadiscussion go to the place on the site built for that.]
posted by cortex at 2:29 PM on February 12


Wow- people are reading this in a weird way.

For what it's worth this thread has been the go to for me in following all of this. There's been some good discussion here- I've even sent people to this page so they can get more info in what's going on.
posted by HarveyDenture at 2:57 PM on February 12


I continue to think it's problematic that attractive, white, educated celebrities with internet savvy are listened to, their needs are met, their problems are validated, they are supported. Politicians respond. Changes are made. Errors are corrected--for her.

I think that's deeply and decidedly unproblematic. What is problematic is that it isn't also the case for people who don't fall into those categories. We should all be listened to, we should all have our needs met, our problems validated, and be supported. It is not a problem that this does sometimes happen. It is a problem that it does not ALWAYS happen.


Further than that, there is an awful lot of noise about solitary and immigration. For me, that is not the issue. The issue is fairly consistent and callous misgendering from the authorities involved at every stage, up until she was moved to a women's prison. She is a woman. It says so in her passport. To put her in a men's prison is absurd. Solitary or no, she should be in women's prison, and she should be gendered correctly while there, while on her way there, and while being questioned by border guards who would eventually go on to send her there. That is the injustice here, and while it may strike some of you as petty, I can assure you it is something that matters a whole hell of a lot to most trans people, myself included. You don't get to decide what is important to us; we do.
posted by Dysk at 3:19 PM on February 12 [30 favorites]


MetaDrama aside, it seems like arguments made from consequence, as well as being fundamentally hindsighted, are skipping over a precept that may be more obvious to others with more experience of interacting with officialdom as a trans person (and which has been outlined by Corinth).

To wit, once a legal (and in particular a carceral) system misgenders a trans person, that is cause for concern, regardless of other circumstances such as education, race or number of Twitter followers. Because it shows that the system is not going to concern itself with that person's dignity or self-identity - which may, as it was in this case, also be their legal status. So, this means the system is going to respond arbitrarily, even when it has a clear procedure for people whose legal gender corresponds to their gender identity.

Once misgendered in the prison system, how bureaucratically easy would it be for somebody to be visited according to the systems around their actual gender by a doctor, if taken ill? How does it change the systems by which they are moved around the prison? What happens if a bureaucratic issue delays their transfer or release? Or if people with more compelling cases for solitary confinement are sent to a finite number of solitary cells?

Those are just top-of-head, mind, before we get into deliberate or malicious abuse of process by border staff or prison staff, but they are certainly things that could take place even over a 48-hour period.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:49 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


GenjiandProust: "but it's worth knowing that "trans* women represent a serious threat of assault for cis women" is a pretty common theme in transphobic rhetoric, so a little pushback is unsurprising."

Ya, I get that. That was the point of my comment, that poor policy was likely made because of it. Anyways sounds like we are all on the same page/ misunderstanding cleared up.
posted by Mitheral at 4:26 PM on February 12


Update from her partner's twitter: she's being sent back to the UK on a flight tomorrow, fortunately without an exclusion order.

That's a relief. I'm glad she was only briefly detained, this shit can stretch out FOREVER.

The issue is fairly consistent and callous misgendering from the authorities involved at every stage, up until she was moved to a women's prison. She is a woman. It says so in her passport. To put her in a men's prison is absurd. Solitary or no, she should be in women's prison, and she should be gendered correctly while there, while on her way there, and while being questioned by border guards who would eventually go on to send her there. That is the injustice here, and while it may strike some of you as petty, I can assure you it is something that matters a whole hell of a lot to most trans people, myself included.

Yes. All of this. I am far less concerned with the immigration issue - it was a pretty dumb mistake, yes, but people make that particular dumb mistake all the time. What was horrifying was the blatant disrespect for her gender identity and the willful misgendering of her from start to finish. I just...I can't even.
posted by MissySedai at 7:30 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Laurie Penny mentions Avery here: Less homophobic than Russia? It's not something to give yourself a medal for
posted by homunculus at 11:29 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


MeTa
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:48 PM on February 13


UK transgender woman returns home after stay in Canadian prison for men

Via aedison's twitter.
posted by homunculus at 10:26 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


I'm glad she's home, but this should have never happened in the first place.
posted by daybeforetheday at 10:37 AM on February 15


It's worth looking over her tweets from the last few days: she refutes a lot of assumptions people made (here and presumably on other forums).
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:42 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Her tweets about this, pasted here in chronological order and joined up in more-than-140-character clumps:
Trying not to do a huge tweet blast, but I want to clear up a couple of assumptions some people have made over the past few days.

1) I was not attempting to make an illegal entry into Canada. I had not been ordered to leave previously, and if CBSA found it credible that I would be leaving in three weeks, I would have been allowed in and my visit entirely legal. I was not attempting to enter illegally.

2) There were multiple occasions on which I asked to just be sent home. I was told that would not be possible. Later, this was amended to being possible if I could secure a $2,500 last-minute ticket to London. I have access to money, but not that much money. So, detention.

3) At one point I was offered the opportunity to return home on the next AirTransat flight (Thursday), but, acting on information that I would be staying in an immigration holding centre, not a prison, I decided that it would be best to be detained so that I could visit with my girlfriend and discuss options with someone calmer and smarter than I. Once I refused this opportunity to go home, things took a turn.

4) I was sent to a prison because CBSA considered me a suicide risk. I had not indicated to them any suicidal feelings or plans, and they made this assumption based on my hospitalisation for a suicide attempt 3 years ago. Without the "need" for suicide watch, no prison.

There's so much more to say, but I'm seeing a lot of discussions poisoned by assumptions I just refuted, so I wanted to clear those up.

There's so much more to say, but I'm seeing a lot of discussions poisoned by assumptions I just refuted, so I wanted to clear those up.

Finally, to all the people saying that solitary was for my own good and "not that bad" - please spend 48-72 hours in a windowless room, with nothing but a mattress, sheet, and toilet. There is a reason extended solitary confinement is considered torture. I have had a hellish week.

I know, though, that my experience pales in comparison to so many others, because I have had a lot of privileges. I will be talk about that.
posted by rtha at 11:10 AM on February 15 [12 favorites]


rtha beat me to it. A few more highlights:

Relevant to her first point there, it's worth mentioning that she tweeted earlier about the documents she'd brought to demonstrate her intent to leave the country on time.

This wasn't someone recklessly flouting the law and facing a predictable consequence. She took reasonable precautions, made decisions that made sense given the information she had (in particular, only deciding to stay because she'd been told she would just be in a holding center, as she mentions in the tweets that rtha quoted), and it took a couple different shitty and hard-to-foresee coincidences to land her in prison.

And for those who have assumed that her supporters would vanish once she was free, rather than stay engaged with the issue and advocate for other prisoners who have it worse:
This protest is now, thankfully, unnecessary. It's pivoted to supporting the many other incarcerated trans people. https://www.facebook.com/events/1379541392314482/
(Note that she's not the organizer of the protest: it was put together by an organization that works on bunch of issues having to do with gender and sexuality.)
posted by this is a thing at 11:24 AM on February 15 [6 favorites]


I came here to post those exact tweets, rtha. The suicide risk one is very interesting. I read a similar news story months ago about a woman denied entry to the USA for a previous suicide attempt in the UK and it makes me wonder why and how does North American immigrations get UK hospital records? Isn't that a tad disturbing?
posted by dabitch at 11:24 AM on February 15


dabitch, she may have been living in Canada at the time; she was there on a student visa originally, after all.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:33 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


But yeah, characterisations that she blundered unthinkingly into an obvious situation, unprepared and idiotic, are a long way off the mark.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:35 AM on February 15


Yeah, my first thought was that it happened when she was in Canada. But that doesn't explain the US denial of entry to someone from the UK who attempted suicide in the UK. The last time I filled out a customs form there wasn't anything about mental health anything on there, that I recall.

Two other haven't-had-breakfast-yet thoughts: I understand why, once authorities knew about the previous suicide attempt, they would want to place a detained person in a place where there could be a suicide watch - not necessarily out of the goodness of their hearts, but for CYA reasons.

And....there are no suicide-prevention/watch facilities in the detention center? Like, at all?
posted by rtha at 11:37 AM on February 15


Wow, I really hope people read all the way to the end of this thread.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:58 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


And....there are no suicide-prevention/watch facilities in the detention center? Like, at all?

I'm not totally surprised about that. If you think someone is actively and persistently trying to hurt herself, it's actually really difficult to ensure that she won't.

I've spent a little bit of time on a locked psychiatric ward after a suicide attempt. (Twice, actually, in two different hospitals.) Even for patients who hadn't tried anything in a while, the baseline level of security was pretty damn high — round-the-clock supervision, nobody allowed on the ward with a belt or shoelaces, no sharp objects anywhere, guards who were equipped to overpower and physically restrain anyone who got out of line. I have no idea what an "immigration holding center" looks like, but it's really easy to imagine it being lower security than that.

I am surprised they pegged her as a suicide risk based on one attempt three years ago. Maybe that's standard? I've never been arrested or detained, so I have no idea.
posted by this is a thing at 12:10 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


I'm glad she's out.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:05 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


I'm glad she is out too.

Yes, a sucide attempt within three years does mean the CBSA considers the person at increased risk of another attempt and policy states they are to be transferred to a monitored segregation cell. I think five years after an attempt if the person has been "stable" (gainfully employed/in school for several years, Married/common-law married, owner of property - yes, all markers of class and privilege) they would no longer be considered at risk. As noted, the suicide watch is more due to liability than genuine concern for the person. This would have been true of anyone they were going to detain.

The Immigration Holding Centre Avery had hoped to stay in is still very prison-like, limited visits with glass barriers (called closed visits - open visits can only be earned by sentenced prisoners), mandatory time in the shared rooms, and limited movement/access to the phone (no internet or mobiles). The Toronto immigration holding centre is a co-ed facility/former hotel with about 200 beds (mostly male, men have the top floor and most of the second, women and children have part of the second floor). It is usually at capacity (there are less than 400 beds in all of Canada for immigration detentions). There is no suicide watch in the holding facility and the level of supervision is waaay lower than any GPU I have seen (including unlocked psych units). The security is almost entirely focused on escapes with almost none monitoring clients behaviour. The women's unit holds women and their children; I personally do not think people who identify as trans should be kept from children, but I can see there being a concern from officials that Avery may be at the risk of harrassment or worse from mothers/teenagers (teens of both genders are kept with the women until they are eighteen) who are ignorant and fearful of a trans woman. The men's units have minimal security and she would not be safe there. This is such a minimal security facility there have been several recent walk-away escapes. So, faced with someone that was a sucide risk, was possibly going to be the victim of attacks that were no fault of her own, and was a flight risk, CBSA chose to send her to a provincial institution.

There is only one provincial women's facility in the province of Ontario, Maplehurst Complex, which has a women's wing (Vanier) with several units - all of them with at least two women to a cell and it is frequently at its capacity of 124 inmates in a mixture of remand or detention, with a broad spectrum of violence/mental illness. It is a medium to maximum security complex with closed visiting as well. The segregation unit is co-ed and kept in the seperate co-ed hospital unit. The general units, whether male or female, have no suicide watch (they are 192 beds spread over six, 32-bed units with one or two guards in a central "pod" where the hallways converge, watching over all the units). Sucide watches go into the segregation hospital cells with higher monitoring. There is no facility for trans people in Ontario (there are barely enough beds for women), and for everyone, release to the community is preferred if the person can be trusted to show up for their court date.

Avery did not have a previous removal order but she DID have a previous agreement to only be in Canada while attending school and keep in communication with CIC if her information changed. My understanding is that she dropped out/finished school and then stayed several months/a year past the time she should have informed CIC, AND never explained to them what happened (a change of visa probably wouldn't have been too difficult). Visas are generally given on the honour-system, and there isn't really the infastructure to pursue all visa violations; because it is the honour system there are no immediate second chances. So, strike one, she had broken an agreement with the beaucracy she was now asking to believe her again when she gave her word she would leave on time. Her proof that she would leave was that she had a lease agreement (which couldn't be enforced against her for financial penalty if she remained in Canada) and a non-refundable ticket worth $500 or so. This may have seemed a lot to her but it isn't much in the eyes of CBSA when assessing flight risk. She didn't show a compelling reason for her to return to the UK (like owning property, a spouse/child, or a high-paying job she would not want to lose, or the loss of a large sum of money) - strike two - but she did have a good reason to over-stay - a lovely girlfriend Avery had already told CBSA about, that CBSA probably conjectured was the cause of the previous overstay, strike three. So partially this was priviledge-based (if she was wealthy she would have probably passed CBSA requirements and cleared up her visa status prior to visiting) but there is also personal responsibility on her part.

It was her responsibility to ensure she was eligible to visit Canada again, and that she would have enough funds to purchase a ticket home if she was denied entry. (It is standard policy in Canada that deportees have to pay for the flight they are deported on and the airlines gouge them on the price). It sounds like Avery didn't have all the necessary information, or life experience to know what questions to ask, and was making a lot of decisions on assumptions and hopes (like visiting - an exception was made so her girlfriend could visit Avery in person at the airport but she should never have expected to stay in detention and be able to visit her girlfriend beyond the two 40min closed sessions; even Rob Ford couldn't get special visitation with his friend in Toronto West last year, lol). I suspect CBSA didn't fully explain all of this either.

The whole situation would have sucked for anyone and the transphobia of the initial CBSA staff is inexcusable. But the two issues seem to have gotten muddied. Not all of her treatment was due to transphobia, and after political involvement it appears she did not experience further transphobia, or none that I have seen her claim. She recognised this privilege herself. I hope there will be improvements in how non-cis people are detained and treated. The whole immigration/imprisonment system is dehumanising; I'm honestly not sure what else the CBSA should have done with someone they deemed a suicide risk due to a recent attempt as Maplehurst is generally the place and is far preferable to the alternatives for men like the Don jail, Mimico, Toronto East or West (all of which are max security and often overcrowded). So I am not sure what the main complaints are anymore.

1. She wasn't illegally entering Canada but she also wasn't authourised to enter for reasons that had nothing to do with her gender.
2. Being sent home meant she had to pay for her ticket; this is applied to everyone and had nothing to do with her gender
3. She chose to be detained, probably on bad information, possibly because CBSA explained the bare minimum to her without defining legal terms like "visitation" or "detain" and allowing her to make reasonable assumptions about what they meant. This was probably partially due to the transphobia she encountered and partially because a lot of CBSA staff are assholes to anyone they consider "inferior".
4. Solitary sucks, no question. They chose to move her there due to the sucide risk as per the policy that is applied regardless of gender. (I wonder what floor they would have put her on in the holding centre if they hadn't deemed her a suicide risk; I can't see them putting her on a men's floor with so little protection). There wasn't really an alternative due to the lack of women's cells and the segregation cells are co-ed at Maplehurst. Interestingly, CBSA did not send her to a male-only facility with segregation cells in Toronto; they choose the only provincial co-ed segregation unit (they also did not put her in the all-male protective custody unit). Calling it a male cell and changing her pronoun was inexcusable behaviour that I hope the corrections guards and CBSA officials are disciplined for and educated about. Corrections Canada does not normally comment on cases due to privacy laws but they should have cleared up some of this misinformation.

It is good that people are thinking and talking about priviledge, gender, incarceration and trans rights and I hope there is meaningful change.
posted by saucysault at 6:19 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


There's something missing from your account, saucysault, which is that she was moved (to Vanier). Clearly, their hands weren't as tied as all that.
posted by hoyland at 6:46 PM on February 15


Yes, it sounds like they took her off the suicide watch. That is normal after there has been a re-assessment by professionals (CBSA are not mental health professionals and are expected to err on the side of caution with any suicide risk - sending someone into the holding centre meant there would be no assessment as I do not believe there are any social workers or psychologists on staff as there are at the Maplehurst complex). I have no idea if Avery was personally assessed or moved due to the media attention; I am speaking just to the standard procedure. Generally, corrections staff want their clients in the general population rather than the more expensive segregation. It also doesn't sound like from her account she was moved into the general population.
posted by saucysault at 7:02 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Rereading your comment, I think I misread something.
posted by hoyland at 7:27 PM on February 15


So I am not sure what the main complaints are anymore.

You've stated them yourself. Quoting from your own comment:
She chose to be detained, probably on bad information, possibly because CBSA explained the bare minimum to her without defining legal terms like "visitation" or "detain" and allowing her to make reasonable assumptions about what they meant. This was probably partially due to the transphobia she encountered and partially because a lot of CBSA staff are assholes to anyone they consider "inferior".

Calling it a male cell and changing her pronoun was inexcusable behaviour that I hope the corrections guards and CBSA officials are disciplined for and educated about.
Yes! Those are the complaints! Those are the things we're angry about! If you agree that those things could and should have been avoided, then you're totally caught up on the main issue here.

(Additionally, people were concerned about the reasons she ended up in solitary. If her being trans was a factor — if a cis woman in the same situation could have avoided solitary confinement — then that's another instance of transphobia to add to the list. If it's really the case that every single detainee in that prison system who has attempted suicide in the past three years is put in solitary confinement, regardless of gender, then... well, that's shockingly inhumane for a whole different set of reasons, but you're right that transphobia doesn't enter into it. AFAIK The stuff about suicide only came to light recently, so for most of the thread, we were all assuming that her gender had been the reason she was put in solitary — there was no other plausible reason that we were aware of.)


So, okay, you might be confused because people keep bringing up other details extraneous to those complaints about transphobia. Speaking for myself, I'm interested in the other details of her story (the who-knew-what-when, the how-many-beds-where, the who-promised-who-what) for two reasons.

First: Details are interesting! She's a person who I identify with, she went through a pretty damn intense experience, and I'd like to be able to picture it more vividly so I can better understand what happened, just for my own personal satisfaction.

Second (and more relevant to this thread): there are some people whose reaction to this story is to catalog the ways that Avery might have fucked up, misjudged, or brought this suffering upon herself. I'll grudgingly concede that they're entitled to do that. But in return, I'm entitled to point out the places where she did shit right, made good decisions, or was misled by others. None of that is directly relevant to the transphobia that she suffered. It's just quibbling over the character of a minor figure who's in the news. But dammit, she's a member of my community, and I'll defend her character if I can.
posted by this is a thing at 7:28 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


This Feministing post includes a somewhat out-of-date rundown, another trans person's admission that traveling is very scary for her, and a link to this extensive 2007 Sylvia Rivera Law Project paper, "It's War in Here: A Report on the Treatment of Transgender and Intersex People in New York State Men's Prisons," that I hadn't seen before.
posted by Corinth at 11:44 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


Speaking of being mislead by others .., Has she said anything on who advised her to bring a lease & a non-refundable ticket as a "I promise I will leave" proof, when she re-entered Canada to visit her girlfriend and cats, with a red-flag status as a visa-overstayer?

Because that would be really bad advice, obviously.
posted by dabitch at 4:45 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


I get the impression that since she is in a situation to consider a $500 nonrefundable ticket a very large expense, she may not have had access to world-class legal advice. (Considering that my immigration lawyers cost AUD $250 per hour and they are nowhere near the most expensive available.)
posted by gingerest at 10:25 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


If that's the case, her government must have failed to provide a traveller's visa question line. Surely Britain has a Canadian embassy?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:36 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Perhaps her less-than-world-class legal advice neglected to mention that checking with an embassy might be a good idea, or that what is a considerable expense for her might not be considered a meaningful outlay by immigration officials? I mean, we don't know, but it seems a weird assumption that she knew of avenues to pursue and chose not to...
posted by Dysk at 1:45 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


Has she said anything on who advised her to bring a lease & a non-refundable ticket as a "I promise I will leave" proof, when she re-entered Canada to visit her girlfriend and cats, with a red-flag status as a visa-overstayer?

Because that would be really bad advice, obviously.


Could you say more about why?
posted by this is a thing at 5:44 AM on February 17


I'm not following.. Why it was bad advice? Is that not obvious?
posted by dabitch at 7:34 AM on February 17


It's not obvious to me. When we see visa- and immigration-related questions in askme, the answers are usually a mix of anecdata and orders to go consult an immigration attorney. Once one has been told that the problem is complicated enough to consult a lawyer, and one does, it doesn't seem beyond the pale to me that one would believe the advice of one's lawyer, the person who is supposed to have the specialized knowledge that one lacks.
posted by rtha at 8:10 AM on February 17


Definitely not obvious to me. I've never applied for a real actual visa in my life, so there's probably stuff I'm missing that's common knowledge for the rest of y'all.

She brought a lease to an apartment in England, and a nonrefundable return ticket to England. That all at least sorta suggests that she intended to go back and live in England, right? I mean, obviously it's not airtight proof — but how could it have hurt her case?

Is the idea that she shouldn't have brought anything at all to show them, because it made her look rules-lawyery and therefore suspicious?
posted by this is a thing at 8:12 AM on February 17


re: "isn't it obvious" - I mean she got detained at the airport = the advice to bring lease etc was apparently not very good advice as that didn't work, now did it?
posted by dabitch at 8:29 AM on February 17


Obvious after the fact, okay. Doesn't help for the before-the-arrival portion of things, though.
posted by rtha at 8:37 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


But did it not work because it didn't meet a clearly defined standard for proof that you plan to leave, or because (as people here have said repeatedly) Canadian border agents are capricious jerks?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:47 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


rtha might you be misreading me? Earlier in the thread it was said that she acted on advice given to her. I'm saying whomever gave this advice was giving bad advice. You seem to be taking issue with this.
posted by dabitch at 8:57 AM on February 17


I think rtha was just trying to get some clarification, not necessarily taking issue with anything you said. For instance, I can't speak for her, but to me your initial comment sounded kind of like you didn't believe she had actually gone to a reputable source, which I gather from your subsequent comments isn't actually what you were saying.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:03 AM on February 17


dabitch: I haven't reread the entire thread, but I don't know if anyone specifically said she acted on advice given to her, or, if someone did, on what information that was based.

_She_ said that she took those documents to demonstrate an intention to return to the UK - links in this comment. One might infer that that was on advice from her lawyers, but that's an inference rather than a certainty, AFAICT.

Regardless... I have applied for a (non-immigrant) visa, and one fairly useful thing to speed the plow is to demonstrate that there is nothing to keep you in the place you are visiting, and something to pull you back to the place you come from. So, owning property in your country of residence, having a spouse in the place of residence, not having family or a spouse in the country you are applying for a visa for. As Saucysault says, above, there's a complexity in this case (lease on property in the UK versus presence of partner in Canada). I'd guess that Avery Edison was travelling using the visa waiver program this time around, which broadly looks at the same questions but usually just waves you through. Obviously, having overstayed a visa changes that equation.

All else being equal, I imagine that an immigration lawyer would advise you not to travel in those circumstances without having first gone to the Canadian High Commission in London, rather than travelling to Canada to meet lawyers. Which we've already discussed in this thread.

But, I think there are some other factors here. One of those is that visa information online is almost always confusing, opaque, missing vital information, full of dead links and generally what you would expect of a site run by a national government specifically for the benefit of non-citizens. This applies to every consular web presence I have ever encountered. Phone services are always automated and always direct you back to the website. Getting an appointment as a non-citizen takes weeks or months, and involves travelling to the embassy and waiting for hours. If your needs are very, very straightforward, you might have a chance of negotiating a visa application without outside assistance. This was clearly not the situation here.

And, connected to this, there is a reason why describing Avery Edison as a "minor celebrity" is dangerous. I imagine everyone draws a line somewhere, but to classify Avery Edison as in the same bound as, say, Joe Lo Truglio, Nicole Richie, Felicia Day or Chris Hardwicke is to make the space within those lines very broad indeed. That kind of minor celebrity may buy their own cigarettes, but they have money, and access to things that money provides, such as legal advice and professional admin staff.

Avery Edison suffers, by her own account, from anxiety and a fear of dealing with bureaucracy, and has no regular guaranteed income and no savings. As mentioned above, immigration lawyers are expensive, and embassies and high commissions are huge buildings entirely full of bureaucracy, with added armed guards.

So, I'm not sure we can say with confidence that she was acting under (formal, legal) advice, unless I've missed something earlier in the thread. We do know that she arrived at Pearson, and what documents she had with her when she did, in case she was asked to demonstrate a commitment to leaving. Some elements of her treatment from there we can say with absolute confidence were a result of her being transgender, others (like her being pulled out of line in the first place, or the psychiatric evaluation, or lack thereof, that led to her assignment to a solitary prison cell as a suicide risk) are a matter of speculation.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:03 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]


Yah, what en forme de poire said - I was confused (possibly by assisted by not-enough-coffee-yet) by your overall point. I agree that it is obvious, in hindsight, that the advice she got was not good, given how things turned out. What I don't know (as someone with extremely basic and probably mostly wrong knowledge of immigration/visa stuff) is how obvious it would've been beforehand that more or more finely grained advice should be gotten. My impression has been that border control has a fair amount of discretion in how they treat people and what kinds of things they'll overlook - or, not overlook, exactly, but they can decide exactly how difficult to make someone's transit, from "inconvenient and time-consuming" to "detention." But my impression may be totally wrong!

For instance, there was some discussion around here a while back (I think on the blue, but it could've been an askme) about traveling and passports and stuff, and someone said something like "just try going into a country when you have no proof like a return ticket that you'll leave," and a lot of people were like "yeah, this is how I backpacked through multiple countries and it was never an issue that I didn't have a plane or train or bus ticket showing I was leaving at some point." And I've traveled to Canada (from the US) several times by bus/car when I didn't have any proof to show that I'd be leaving and never gotten so much as a raised eyebrow. But I've never overstayed a visa, either. So I dunno.
posted by rtha at 10:21 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]


And apologies if I was coming off as hostile or jumping on you - that was totally unintentional.
posted by rtha at 10:24 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


rtha - just as a point of information, I understand that backpackers are usually not pressed for a return ticket in the countries they are going through, both because it is expected that their travel arrangements will be somewhat improvisational, and that they are often travelling onwards across national borders by train or bus, and that when they run out of money or get bored they will move on or return home.

(Also, often backpackers have already obtained visas for those countries where a visa is required, so the labor is to an extent front-loaded.)

Travelling between the US and Canada (if you're a citizen of either) is also something of a special case - if you're heading from Seattle to Vancouver by car, you won't usually have too much trouble, at least if you don't have all your possessions packed in with you. There is less concern about non-immigrant labor mobility, also, because TN visas are relatively easy to get, I think.

When it comes to international travel between, e.g. the UK and the US, or the UK and Canada, the border patrol have a lot of leeway when it comes to stopping people whose entry does not seem immediately problematic - they are to an extent _employed_ to discriminate based on intuition about this stuff. So, if your first night is being spent at a private accommodation, they might ask if this is the home of your boyfriend/girlfriend, and so on.

Like random security checks, these random questions may be more or less random - there's a fun instancing of the former at Did Rami Get Random Checked, where Rami Ismail, who is tall, half-Egyptian and has a beard, keeps track of how often he is randomly checked by airport security. It is... more often than a strict principle of randomness would suggest.

If there was a mark on Edison's file about the overstay, that would justify further questioning. OTOH, I don't know if that questioning would always happen, or if it would always result in refusal to enter. Whether Edison's trans status was a factor there is probably unanswerable with certainty.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:07 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


When Shepherd used to come visit in Atlanta, he carried with him proof of his employment, proof of his house mortgage when he crossed into the US because saying to border guards "Yeah, I'm going to visit my fiancee in the US!" without proof that you have every intention of coming back to Canada sent up red flags. (He didn't even tell them about my engagement ring one time he came down, just in case.)

Obviously, it's different because Avery had overstayed her visa, but I still think it's good she still had the proof of her life back in the UK that she had every intention of going back to.
posted by Kitteh at 12:16 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


If that's the case, her government must have failed to provide a traveller's visa question line. Surely Britain has a Canadian embassy?

She was visiting as a tourist. British citizens don't need a visa to visit Canada, and the rest of the requirements (here) specify that visitors must "convince an immigration officer that you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country, (and)
convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit." But they're not specific on the details of how best to "convince" the officer you're planning to leave. A return ticket seems like a logical start.

The London visa office, which is where such inquiries are directed, accepts queries by mail and webform only, not by phone.
posted by gingerest at 3:32 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


Travelling between the US and Canada (if you're a citizen of either) is also something of a special case - if you're heading from Seattle to Vancouver by car, you won't usually have too much trouble, at least if you don't have all your possessions packed in with you.

Actually, the most scrutiny I've been subjected to at borders has been crossing between the US and Canada. That's been the most extensive questioning (by Canada) and the most hostile questioning (by the US).
posted by hoyland at 3:32 PM on February 17


Even assuming that she had bad advice and/or judgement in this case, why is it that big an issue? Surely aedison has paid amply for the error. We might turn some of this burning scrutiny on the various elements of the Canadian government involved in the situation. What is their excuse? Why aren't they called to account with the same fervor? Because, it's pretty likely none of us will be in aedison's exact shoes traveling to Canada, but the same government apparatus will be waiting for us....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:03 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


When I had a bushy beard, I did not travel through Gatwick even once without getting stopped for a 'random' search (and that was several years of several times a year through that airport).
posted by Dysk at 4:29 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Putting myself in the position of a hypothetical tourist, I visit the Canadian government's website to find out the requirements to visit as a tourist. Looking at that page, I see that I need to meet basic requirements to visit Canada. I meet all of those requirements, although I need to "convince an immigration officer that you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country". I presume that's what Avery was doing with the lease documents and so forth. I check to find out if I need a visa - no, I don't. Ooh, there's a link about inadmissability. Here's what it says:
Some people are inadmissible—they are not allowed to come to Canada. Several things can make you inadmissible, including involvement in criminal activity, in human rights violations or in organized crime.

You can also be inadmissible for security, health or financial reasons.
Well, none of those things apply to me - I'm not a criminal, dangerous, sick, or poor. But just for fun, I shall click on that link and find out more about inadmissibility. It gives a lot of potential reasons, none of which apply to me. And there's an additional link that says reasons for inadmissibility. Didn't we just have that? Well, I'll click on it anyway. Wow, that's a wall of text! And again, none of those things apply to me. Wait a minute .... the second last (of sixteen clauses) is "failure to comply with any provision of IRPA (see note 4)". I shall see note 4:
Examples of failure to comply with IRPA include:
  • temporary residents who do not respect the conditions of their stay—for example, they stay longer than allowed, or work or study without the proper permits
  • permanent residents who have not lived in Canada for the required amount of time and
  • people who have previously been deported and try to enter Canada without written authorization.
Well, this hypothetical tourist overstayed her visa once before. Perhaps she was officially deported, perhaps not, but to even be alerted to this risk required that I go through a sequence of five web pages, the last two of which seem designed to reassure readers that they're merely restatements of the one before. And even then, I need to read the footnotes of a rather long list because the her scenario (which is probably pretty common) isn't explicitly mentioned anywhere else.

I'm pretty confident that in Avery's position I would have tried to fix up the paperwork first. But I'm the sort of person who worries about this sort of thing and who has no problem reading multi-levelled documents. I strongly suspect most people, reading that website, would have read the first two pages and gone off and bought their ticket.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:58 PM on February 17 [11 favorites]


I'm way more anxious about immigration stuff than the average person. The last time I went to Canada, I was going for a conference and did some reading of government websites to try and figure out what, if any, papers I needed to bring (e.g. did I actually need this official looking letter of invitation I'd been sent?). I was only concerned because the last time I'd gone to Canada, also for a conference, the agent was really, really interested in whether I was being paid to go and we went round and round on that point.* Even with my immigration anxiety, I didn't bother reading about things that might exclude you from Canada.

*I think this might have been a language issue--he clearly seemed to think I was going to a trade show of some kind and I ended up having to describe what you do at a math conference. Then again, he was also a bit baffled that my mother was giving me a lift to Montreal, despite what is surely a huge number of people taking someone to the airport on both sides of the border. Then again, lightning might have to strike for a ticket to pretty much anywhere from Montreal to be cheaper than flying from Burlington.
posted by hoyland at 5:23 PM on February 17


Aedison tells her story here.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:38 PM on March 4 [7 favorites]


Thanks rc, I thought that was incredibly well-written. I hope she can get her visa situation sorted out and come back to visit her girlfriend.
posted by saucysault at 3:51 PM on March 4


This:
I know that the situation became more complicated through nobody’s fault but my own; that the lack of a stable life in England meant it wasn’t believable that I’d return there; that my suicidal history took the standard detention centre off the table; that my gender identity muddied things even further. I would apologise, if I knew who to apologise to, or if I thought it would mean anything.
Is sort of heartbreaking.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:32 PM on March 4 [6 favorites]


That's been the most extensive questioning (by Canada) and the most hostile questioning (by the US).

Interestingly I find the opposite to be true in Calais, ME/St. Stephen, NB, though once we decided to take the ferry from Deer Isle, NB to Eastport, ME and the "exit customs" consisted of a woman of about 18 or 19 in an official car driving up and asking of the ferry driver, "how many you got there this run, eh?" and him yelling back "4" before launching and "entry customs" consisted of two guys in a DHS SUV parked on the landing beach and waving to us as we drove by. It was raining, so who can blame them?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:01 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


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