Jail officials say a transgender woman from London, England, who was held in a detention centre for males has now been transferred to a facility for women.
Earl Essery, the shift supervisor at Maplehurst Correctional Centre in Milton, Ont., confirmed the move late Tuesday but would not specify where Avery Edison had been sent.
Edison, 25, had posted on her Twitter account that she landed Monday at Toronto’s airport and was detained by the Canada Border Services Agency. She suspects she was detained because the last time she was here she overstayed her student visa.
Edison tweeted that despite her passport listing her as a female, the customs officials sent her to Maplehurst, which is a detention centre for males, to await a hearing.
Her girlfriend, who lives in Toronto, tweeted that jail staff told her that Edison was in the male facility because she has male genitalia.
Edison wrote that the prospect of being sent to a male facility, where she believed she would be “a potential target for sex attacks,” was “terrifying.”
Randall Garrison, the NDP critic for LGBT issues, says he spoke with Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and pressed for an immediate transfer and a review of Canada Border Services Agency policies on detention of transgender people.
“It could be very dangerous for a transgendered person to be in an incorrect institution ... (because of) threats from other inmates who may not understand the situation,” Garrison said.
Edison’s girlfriend tweeted Tuesday evening that they had spoken and said Edison “sounded good.” She also wrote that Edison has a hearing set for Wednesday morning.
Canada Border Services would not comment on Edison’s case, citing privacy concerns, but said it asks its provincial service providers to avoid placing those detained on immigration matters with criminal prisoners.
“Ultimately, it is the decision of the provincial service provider that determines in which facility the individual will be detained,” spokeswoman Anna Pape said in an email.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services says “classification recommendations and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and are based on factual information and objective criteria.”
Greg Flood says the ministry is discussing the case with the Canada Border Services Agency, but could not divulge more information for privacy reasons.
“Anyone with concerns about their treatment or care while in our custody can bring those concerns forward to the staff, superintendent of an institution, ministry officials, including the minister and the deputy minister,” Flood wrote in a statement.
“Concerns may also be raised to the Ombudsman, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, or to an MPP or MP.”
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