News / Halifax

Halifax trans resident shares 'discriminatory' Scotiabank experience

Áine Morse, a non-binary trans person, described it as 'one of the most violent' experiences of their life since they began transitioning.

Aine Morse poses for a portrait outside the Chebucto Connections office in Spryfield on Tuesday.

Zane Woodford/Metro

Aine Morse poses for a portrait outside the Chebucto Connections office in Spryfield on Tuesday.

The co-chair of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project is speaking out after what they describe as a “deeply discriminatory experience” at Scotiabank.

Áine Morse is a non-binary trans person who was trying to update their name at the Halifax Fairview Scotiabank last Friday.

Morse was shocked to be asked “deeply uncomfortable and really antagonistic” questions, including if they’d had “the surgery.”

“It went from me changing my name to needing to address all these other questions based on assumptions (from) the two clerks,” Morse recalled in an interview.

“Perhaps I was just the entertainment at the end of the day on Friday. It was very strange and very antagonistic to basically be asked about my genitals in a public forum without any privacy in the middle of the bank.”

Morse had legally changed their name last week and was updating identification for a number of different services to reflect the change.

Morse, who doesn’t identify with male or female, chose not to legally change their gender marker due to a lack of non-binary options available on government identification.

“I had a change in gender assumed on my behalf (at the bank) without asking me if that was something that had even happened,” Morse said.

“And that’s a complicated answer where most people aren’t aware of the existence of non-binary people, much less what it takes to actually accommodate us.”

Morse described the bank experience as “one of the most violent” of their life since they began transitioning.

“I think government needs to listen and respond to the needs of trans folks more generally, but specifically non-binary folks too who don’t have access to the right gender marker on their identification currently,” Morse said.

“The Nova Scotia NDP has put forward legislation to allow for that, and I’m really hoping that the government decides to support that legislation.”

Morse believes once government takes the lead, corporations and businesses will have a standard to follow.

“My hope is that we build corporations’ capacity to understand trans people and to support trans clients through training and providing those continued opportunities,” Morse said.

“But right now those things aren’t happening.”

Morse said they’d lodged a complaint with Scotiabank, and the possibility of exploring it as a human rights issue was still in their back pocket.

“The hope is to create a conversation to get our systems moving in a more inclusive direction and get folks understanding that these questions have never been appropriate, they’re still not appropriate, and you need to be mindful of that when dealing with the public,” they said.

In an email, Scotiabank spokesperson Rick Roth said the bank makes every effort to educate employees on inclusive language and behaviour and to ensure employees deliver “an inclusive experience” to all customers.

“We appreciate the customer raising this concern with us, and we sincerely apologize for the experience.  We have committed to thoroughly review this matter and take the appropriate action,” Roth wrote in part. 

“We have reached out to the customer to invite further discussions with the Bank on our current employee educational programs and how we can further improve them.”

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