Avery Edison, transgender U.K. woman, live-tweets Canadian border detention and transfer to men’s prison

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew
Avery Edison, via Twitter

A transgender U.K. woman who previously lived in Canada appears to have been detained at Toronto’s airport and transferred to a men’s prison after being denied entry to the country, according to an hours-long narrative the comedian shared on her Twitter page.

Avery Edison, who left Canada after outstaying her visa last year, says she wasn’t denied entry to Canada because of her transgender status, although it appears to have caused a great deal of frustration and confusion.

After landing in Toronto on Monday, she was detained at the airport for about eight hours, frequently misidentified as a male despite being listed on her passport as a female and eventually shipped to a men's prison to be detained. Edison recorded her experience in a series of tweets.

"So I think I’m in the process of getting denied entry at Toronto airport. So. That’s happening," Edison tweeted on Monday, near the start of an hours-long ordeal.

Edison, a British comedian, previously lived in Canada but left after overstaying her work visa. On Twitter, Edison said she had come back to Toronto to empty out her apartment, meet with lawyers and visit her Canadian girlfriend. She brought a copy of her apartment lease in England and a non-refundable return air ticket as proof that she did not intend to stay in Canada.

That did not appear to appease the guards. She managed to retain her phone and tweet about her experience through much of the hours-long affair, with the narrative ending when she was transferred to the men’s Maplehurst Correctional Complex.

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Edison's series of tweets details the hurdles and delays experienced first at airport security and then once they decided where she would be detained. From her account, it appears gender classification caused a great deal of the confusion.

The Maplehurst Correctional Complex is a 1,550-capacity facility in Milton, Ont., which caters to male inmates. Yahoo Canada News could not independently confirm Edison had been transferred to Maplehurst. “I don’t know anything about that person,” a voice from the Maplehurst superintendent’s office recited during a brief phone conversation, before directing questions to the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Calls to the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services were not returned.

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Edison's partner has continued to tweet about the ordeal and said she was told since Edison had male genitalia, she would be kept in a male prison.

.@aedison ...has male parts, so male prison. Then referred to Avery as he for the rest of the conversation. — rahrah (@rahrahtempleton) February 11, 2014

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has weighed in on the issue of transgender inmates and says there is no pre-written policy.

“The standing practice appears to be to allow post-operative male to female transsexuals to stay in women’s correctional facilities, and in all other situations, to deal with transgendered individuals on a case by case basis,” the OHRC writes. “However, unless full sex reassignment surgery has been undertaken, the individual will be placed in a facility according to his or her birth-assigned gender in a segregated area.”

At last check, Edison was still said to be detained at Maplehurst. Her partner wrote on Twitter that she was making friends with some of the guards.

.@aedison she thanks you and wants you to know she's scared, but ok. They refuse to gender her properly, but otherwise are treating her well

— rahrah (@rahrahtempleton) February 11, 2014

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