A transgender passenger says that she was left feeling “unsafe” after a airline employees outed her in front of the entire plane. Lenore Herrem was flying to Calgary to Saskatoon aboard a WestJet flight when the agents at the gate became “upset and confused” when Herrem showed her ID to board the plane. Herrem presents as female, but her ID from Quebec is marked as male, and it’s accompanied with a five-year-old photo.
"She got upset and said, 'They don't match,' but her colleague said, 'Yes, they do, it's fine, go ahead,'" Herrem said. "So I gently and discreetly expressed to her, 'It's because I'm transgender, that's why they don't match up. But my face is the same and my ID matches the name on my boarding pass.'"
After the gate agent allowed her on board, two gate agents boarded the flight and once again asked for her ID.
"She said something like, 'Oh, that's not the name I remember seeing on the computer when I looked at it,' and she started spouting off different, other women's names that were not mine," Herrem told CBC.
"She rolled her eyes at me and said, 'Are you sure it wasn't your girl name that was on the computer?' … She outed me in front of the whole airplane."
"I felt unsafe, vulnerable, belittled," she said. "I was in shock, it was quite traumatizing having someone, especially the way she did it so loudly and in front of everyone, it was really unprofessional.”
WestJet has since apologized for the incident and said that it is investigating the situation.
"WestJet's inclusive culture is a point of pride for WestJetters and our goal has always been to create a safe and inclusive environment for all," the company said in an emailed statement. "We have extended our apologies to the guest and are reviewing the matter as we are continuously assessing and evolving our practices and policies to maximize inclusiveness and celebrate diversity."
The company confirmed that they will be doing an internal investigation, offered Herrem a flight credit, and will be training its employees on transgender issues.
"I was pleased with the way [the representative] did deal with it. She expressed that they will be implementing training to staff to deal with these sort of situations better in the future which was the most important thing for me to hear," she said.