The transgender community was outraged over an episode of Border Security last week, in which a trans-woman from the Philippines was initially refused entry to Sydney.
The Channel 7 documentary-style program about Australia’s Immigration, Customs and Quarantine departments was filmed at Sydney Airport.
An Immigration officer and the Channel 7 reporter referred to the female passenger as Ronald for the duration of the segment, sparking accusations of insensitivity by transgender activists.
Border Security executive producer Dan Meenan and a spokesman for the Immigration Department maintained the passenger was asked what she would like to be called, and the response was Ronald.
Trans activist Grace Abrams said she found this difficult to believe, adding the passenger would have been reluctant to trust an officer “giving her a hard time”.
“I would have made sure she understood I was asking for a preferred name, not just an official one, and that it was safe for her to give and use one,” she said.
The passenger, who presented as a woman, was stopped at Sydney Airport with a large number of documents, which authorities feared were applications for employment.
During the episode, Officer Ken conducted a search for Ronald’s family at Sydney Airport, and on finding them received the assurance that they would “take full responsibility for him”.
Officer Ken expressed his reluctance to let the passenger go, but said there was not enough evidence to “cancel his visa and send him back”.
Abrams said it was “idiocy” on behalf of Channel 7 to televise the episode. “It certainly does nothing to enhance the perception of Australia in the world, as enlightened and friendly towards GLBTI people,” she said.

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