Gender rights activist Abbygail Wu (吳伊婷) yesterday accused National Immigration Agency officers of discrimination after she was kept at an immigration counter at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for a gender check when she was leaving the country last month.
“My passport states that I am female, and the photograph in it is one that I took a week before I was going to leave, but the immigration officer looked at my passport, and looked at me. He had a confused look on his face for about 10 seconds before he asked whether I was a man or a woman,” Wu told a press conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
“I knew where he was coming from, so I told him that I have had an official change of gender, and took out other IDs to show him, but he did not seem satisfied with what I said. He called his supervisor over and I was asked to go into an office, where they retrieved a copy of my household registration record and asked many embarrassing questions before letting me go,” she said.
Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times
Wu said the actions were discriminating, humiliating and disrespectful of a citizen’s privacy.
She compared her experience in Taoyuan with one at San Francisco International Airport when she was heading back to Taiwan.
When a security officer at the San Francisco airport saw a “transgender” sticker on her backpack, “he took the initiative to ask if I would prefer to be searched by a male or female officer when going through the security check,” she said.
Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times
“Having gone through airport security and immigration checks in Taiwan and the US makes me realize that our immigration officers lack gender awareness,” she said.
Awakening Foundation chairperson Chen Yi-chien (陳宜倩) said what happened to Wu was unacceptable as the government and civic groups have put so much effort into raising gender awareness in recent years.
“We have had the Gender Equality Education Act (性別平等教育法) and gender awareness curriculum at school in place for many, many years. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had signed the two international human rights covenants, while government policies and legislation are also moving toward promoting gender awareness,” Chen said.
“It is unacceptable that an immigration officer is so lacking in gender awareness — it is not the public’s fault that he cannot update his mindset to 2014, and apparently he is no longer suitable to serve in the position,” she said.
Wu’s case was not an isolated event.
Gender rights activist Yeh Jo-ying (葉若瑛) told the press conference that a voter was asked to go through a gender check before being allowed to vote at a polling station in Greater Taichung, as the voter “looked” female, but her national ID card said she was male.
Jiyi Ng (吳芷儀), president of the Intersex, Transgender and Transsexual People Care Association, said that the gender listing on IDs has been inconvenient for the transgender population, mainly because people have set ideas about what a man or a woman should look like.
“In many countries, for instance Australia, people are now not required to select a gender, people can choose gender ‘X’ besides male or female,” Ng said. “I think this is the direction we should move toward to make it easier for everyone.”
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut