When Flying While Transgender Becomes Problematic

Flyer Shadi Petosky, who is transgender, was trying to fly from Orlando to Minneapolis yesterday afternoon but was detained at security by the TSA, who Shadi claims told her that they were holding her because of a body-related “anomaly.” Which is to say, that the TSA felt that a woman presenting as a woman but possessing a male body part was suspicious.

Orlando International Airport

The whole debacle has been chronicled on Shadi’s Twitter account, among other sources, but it appears, per Vox, that:

  • Shadi was trying to get to her American Airlines flight from Orlando to Minneapolis (presumably connecting somewhere in between)
  • TSA detained her for a body-related “anomaly” and instructed her to go back through the machine “as a man”
  • TSA then ordered her to stop using her phone to take photos, videos and live-Tweet
  • 40 minutes later, Shadi was out of the security area but had missed her flight
  • Shadi could not rebook on American without returning to the landside ticketing area, and was escorted there by police
  • American Airlines told her it would cost $955 for a guaranteed seat out of Orlando to anywhere else today
  • Shadi claims an American Airlines customer service manager then instructed her to “ask for a private screening” next time
  • American’s ticket desk in Orlando seemed reluctant to help her, and ended up calling the Orlando Police, who appeared to take Shadi’s side
  • After some back and forth, and with police involvement, American flew her standby to Miami, though without an onward same-day connection
  • American Airlines has told the press they immediately booked her on the next flight out, which seems, at best, to be contradictory to all other accounts

Oooooooooooooof.

Obviously we’re working with just one person’s account right now (though the account appears to include some backup from the Orlando Police) and it’s clear that the TSA’s actions, at a minimum, sound legitimately insensitive, if not disturbing.

Traveling can be stressful for lots of people, and emotion and sensitivity can get the best of us, especially at the airport. I’ve seen security called on more than a few instances for hysterical passengers in the terminal. I have no doubt Shadi was “emotional,” but it sounds like from what happened she had every right to be emotional as a direct result of some epic misdeeds on the part of the TSA.

Trans rights are certainly one of the “newer” civil rights causes, but by now nearly everyone should be aware that transgender people have the right to travel without their body parts being called into attention just as cisgender people do. (And please, I recognize there are plenty of travelers out there who grumble about the full-body scans at the airport, but getting a body scan and being specifically told that your body part does not match your gender identity and that poses a “security problem” are not nearly on the same level of offense.)

What I’m most troubled by is that American Airlines seemed at most indifferent to Shadi’s problems and not especially willing to accommodate her for an airport delay no fault of her own — and, it seems, American seemed to hint that by not asking for a private screening, the ensuing delay was Shadi’s fault.

I’m quite frankly surprised American Airlines didn’t very quickly nip this in the bud before it became a national PR shitstorm. (I’m actually equally surprised Delta hasn’t stepped up to the plate and offered her a seat on one of their many daily nonstops between Orlando and Minneapolis, but that’s a missed opportunity, not a nitpick.)

Obviously, what happened yesterday afternoon in Orlando isn’t necessarily indicative of TSA policies or American Airlines policies generally, just a series of suboptimal, insensitive events gone haywire at an outpost airport.

Still, even if we’re only getting one side of the story, what I’m hearing is terribly disturbing and unlikely to be totally counterbalanced by some spin from AA. The simple truth is that trans people are the gender with which they identify. Asking a trans woman to “go through the scanner as a man” is simply offensive, and should be universally recognized as such.

Do you think that the TSA and American Airlines mishandled this as epically as I think they did? 

Are there any transgender readers who have experienced discrimination or undue inconvenience while flying?  

(Keep things civil, folks. It’s 2015.)

Comments

  1. Totally appalling and unacceptable. Feel like many who say they accept LGBTQ ignore the T and the Q. Quite sad, really.

  2. “TSA felt that a woman presenting as a woman but possessing a male body part was suspicious.”

    Um, yeah — that doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    “The simple truth is that trans people are the gender with which they identify.”

    OK, sure, let’s go with that — but anatomically and biologically, you’re not a different sex just because you say you are — and that’s what the screeners are seeing in the scans. She could have avoided this whole situation by discretely asking to speak to a TSA manager to bring to their attention the fact that some of her parts aren’t going to match the way she’s dressed. Sure, it’s a little more hassle, but no big deal. Some handicapped travelers have to deal with this, as do some with metal implants — just allow for a little more time. So let’s stop being offended by the world for a minute and just move on.

  3. TSA=idiots feel sorry for this person. How do you go thru scanner as a man ? What do you take off all your clothes makeup etc.Pretty stupid but I’m not surprised when you look at what is going on in the US with TSA.

  4. I can see where and how this could be a security threat, but knowing TSA, I know they probably were not too tactful in expressing their concern.
    I also can vouch that Orlando has some of the not-the-friendliest group of agents (across all airline companies).

  5. Not everyone agrees with the delusion that “trans” people are anything other than their natural born gender, despite their unfortunate mental illness that causes them to feel otherwise.

    That said, this man’s publicly presented sex and/or actual physical sex is completely irrelevant. There is no “going through as a man/woman”. Once the object is determined not to be a weapon, the passenger should be cleared and allowed to move on. The TSA body scans should be eliminated altogether as a waste of time and money.

    However American Airlines had no responsibility to re-book the passenger at no extra cost. TSA’s delays may not have been the passenger’s fault, but neither were they AA’s fault. Lots of people get hung up – unfairly – at security….why should AA be held liable here and not when any other pax are delayed at security?

  6. Not sure about this; humiliating treatment by the TSA but sounds like she wasn’t really helping her case by insisting on ‘live-tweeting’ (I mean, seriously, what the hell???), photographing and videoing stuff; that would have slowed things down for her!

  7. 1. I agree not AA fault at all. This is on TSA. AA doesn’t have to bend over backward to accommodate him.

    2. This trans-queer stuff is a psychiatric disorder of one not being comfortable with their body. When it is someone with anorexia who is convinced that they are still fat, they are treated psychiatrically and medically. When it is someone who thinks their body is wrong from gender stand-point, it is the same.

  8. Steve, it’s as simple as that but somehow people will argue your point. I think this is nothing more than someone taking advantage of a situation for publicity. Bottom line is that he should have gotten to the airport earlier, a 40 minute delay shouldn’t have caused him to miss his flight.
    The TSA must err on the side of caution, flying is a privilege and the TSA get to call the shots.

  9. Sounds like the TSA agents need proper training. Go back through the scanner as a man? What does that even mean? This is a TSA problem though and not an AA issue, although it would have been wise for AA to step up a bit more from a PR perspective. The passenger should have gone through security earlier since I agree a 40 minute holdup in security should not cause you to miss your flight.

  10. Well this comment thread is an interesting read. It seems that those people who are insensitive to trans women are the same people who think the TSA is doing a heck of a job. At least it increases the likelihood that both views could be eradicated in one fell (tragic) swoop?

  11. Posting this and inviting comment is trollfeeding. I’m getting a bit tired of this blog padding the space with deliberately provocative posts that they know will get people riled up.

    Of course the result here is a number of dinosaurs who don’t personally know any trans people ranting that genitals determine gender. And of course the PC trolls counter that they’re dinosaurs and how could they possible think that?

    What is achieved?

    Hits are achieved.

    I’d strongly prefer to read a lounge review by Ben. Much less of posts like this one, please.

  12. I identify as a billionaire but that certainly doesn’t make me one.

    You are who you are and just because you aren’t able to accept it doesn’t give you the right to state your something else.

    Some time the truth sucks.

  13. Appalled by this story. If this traveler’s story is true, then the TSA and AmericanAir should be shamed and made to apologize for their gross mishandling of this incident. At the least, I hope the TSA agents get more sensitivity training.

  14. Wow compare the comments here to Lucky’s post about finding a boyfriend. The amount of misgendering and transphobia evidenced in these comments is as disgusting as the warmth and happiness for Lucky just below is heartening. Shows us how we’ve come so far but we still have a long way to go…

  15. Hmm, this is a tough one. I believe there are only three data points TSA has when verifying identity on a ticket – name, age, and gender. If you knew that one of those three things presented much differently than how it’s listed on your ticket/ID, wouldn’t you make some sort of adjustment for that? Maybe a doctor note or something.

    I’m not trying to be insensitive, just imagining if the ticket says “25 year old male named John Doe” and all the sudden the person does NOT seem to be a 25 year old male John Doe, I would think it reasonable to check it out.

    Not saying TSA wasn’t most likely brash and insensitive. I saw a 29-year old blonde mother in yoga pants holding her curly-haired baby at SFO as they explained to her they would now have to do a full body search of both of them in a separate room. Not a pat-down, but a full body search. OUTRAGEOUS. Blonde moms in yoga pants (with clearly no way to conceal anything) don’t blow up planes. But I guess we’d rather divert those resources to appear politically correct.

    Anyways, I’m sure the TSA screwed this up and were insensitive, but it doesn’t sound like she was trying to make it go as smoothly as possible either. Hm.

  16. Reading these comments just made me realize how far humanity has to go in terms of accepting transgender rights. People need to realize that others need to live their own lives. I am a male because I say so, not because of what I have. Just because they have a penis does not necessarily mean they identify as a male. And that’s something nobody else should have influence others.

    It’s not for no reason that suicide rates are unusually high for people who identify as part as the LGBTQ community. It’s time to change.

  17. @James:

    “anatomically and biologically, you’re not a different sex just because you say you are — and that’s what the screeners are seeing in the scans. She could have avoided this whole situation by discretely asking to speak to a TSA manager to bring to their attention the fact that some of her parts aren’t going to match the way she’s dressed. Sure, it’s a little more hassle, but no big deal. Some handicapped travelers have to deal with this, as do some with metal implants — just allow for a little more time. So let’s stop being offended by the world for a minute and just move on.”

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but it is astonishing to see one could so confidently demonstrate such inability to distinguish an absolute violation of an individual freedom by this reply. I am no fan of extreme progressivism as it brings more damage to the modern society than benefits, but it is idiotic to question a physical and mental effect of a person resulting from an IDENTITY issue. A transperson elects to go through legal, surgical and other methods of change because not all given parts of his/hers align with each other to meet the acceptable social standard defined by society’s overwhelming majority. There is nothing wrong with being disabled; however, equating the disability with being trans is a serious mistake in judgment: Being disabled is not a choice but rather a forced consequence of an unfortunate circumstance. Being trans IS however a CHOICE one makes in order to align his/her identity with physical appearances expected of such identities.

    Furthermore: “It’s a little more hassel, but no big deal” Tell that to ANY disabled person and see what they say. Are you fucking serious? Nothing offends me more than your idiotic behavior related to this issue. Nobody is saying a nirvana for all travelers should exist tomorrow, but your “whatever, deal with it” attitude is a representation of a serious set back and a cancer to this society.

  18. I wish my dick was regarded as a security threat.

    TSA ridiculous as ever. AA stupid reputation damaging customer service. Shadi has as much right as anyone else to document her interaction. This is not a transgender issue, it’s more a stupidity issue.

  19. Really? So after gay marridges are legalized, now people are criticizing trans people “sick” and “disordered”?

  20. Given the level of discourse occasionally seen in the comment section of our blog, I’m somewhat heartened by the reactions here, and the rather level-headed give and take… for the most part.

    But to be clear, deliberate misgendering, use of the “he” pronoun and insistence that the subject of the article is a man is offensive. No, OMAAT is not a political blog, but it’s not a political issue. It’s a factual issue: Shadi is a woman, legally, personally, spiritually. Her body parts are not the TSA’s business — and frankly, to the commenters who seem hung up on her penis: none of yours either.

    Again, I’d like to point out that I’m actually impressed by the genuinely thoughtful responses here, and normally we (or, at least everyone else on OMAAT but myself, who tends to get sucked in more often than the others do into the commenter feedback loop) let trolls be trolls, but for f#@#’s sake, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. People commit suicide over things like this.

  21. The question that should be asked is why should anyone especially TSA give a f-bomb if a woman identifies and presents as a man or a man identifies and presents as a woman. That is their business and their business alone.

    This “security risk” would not have happened if she went through the good old fashioned metal detector and TSA agents weren’t underpaid over-glorified rent-a-cops. These body scanners along with the power trip most TSA agents are on IS THE PROBLEM, not the Transgender travelers.

    To those you say this is just a mental health issue, you’re entitled to your opinion, just as transgender people are entitled to live their life in whatever manner they chose. What you or the government don’t have is the right to impose on a transgender person your belief of who they are, or how they should identify.

    We need serious reform to the security theatre that is TSA, including but not limited to eliminating the body scanners, a retraining of all agents to be more focused on helping not harassing the traveling public, and posting clear, well publicized passengers rights while going through security screening.

    The body scanners are especially critical in the reform, they have not been proven to be any more or less effective than metal detectors. They have been abused for TSA agents’ own amusement, and exposed the public to undisclosed amounts of radiation. It doesn’t make us any safer than we were pre-9/11 and only causes frustration for most and humiliation for some.

    Michael

  22. Isn’t there a quote from a movie saying something to the effect of is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?

  23. This reminds me of a Southpark episode where Kyle’s dad decided to become “transpecies” dolphin. ) Spot on!

    In reality this tranny dude is a total attention whore. No respect. Only in ‘Murica.. and maybe Europe. Not to say that TSA doesn’t suck but still. How does BS like this even make the news? Hundreds of people probably missing flights due to TSA, but they’re not documenting it on instagram and twitter and making it a publicity stunt. If he (or should I say ‘it’?) has a problem and for some reason decided to get rid of his member, why all of a sudden it has to be TSA’s problem? That’s his problem and he needs to live and deal with it. If he was born a hermaphrodite I might have felt a little sympathy for him, but not here, sorry. I must say it was entertaining to read the comments though.

    BTW, do you think if I become transpecies, TSA will let me pass through security scan in aquarium as a dolphin? Or would they require me walk on foot as a man? If so, that would be so insensitive and offensive, no? Cheers.

  24. Because the underwear bomber tried to blow up NW 273 with plastic explosives sewn into his underwear, I think an anomalous “package” in anyone’s underwear is indeed a security issue. It depends, I guess, on how detailed an image the screening devices produce. I hope the image is not detailed at all which would require further explanation/security checks if an anomaly is observed. Should passengers be put at risk to protect a transgender individual’s sensibilities? Of course I have no idea what the instruction to “go back through the machine as a man” means, if it was actually said. I wonder how this issue is handled in countries like Thailand where transgenders are more prevalent and seem to be generally accepted in society.

  25. Not going to claim to be all-knowing about transgender issues (other than believing that people are people and that somene’s gender identity is none of my business and has zero impact in my life). But to me this is a concept of basic security. The TSA sees a woman go into the scanner, the TSA notices a ‘bulge’ in the womans crotch-etal region, this should be cause for alarm. Could it be a gun? Could it be a penis? Could it be a roll of mentos?

    I disagree with the security theater that is the TSA but I dont think its ‘safe’ to just automatically assume every woman with something concealed in her pants is transgender and therefore doesnt warrant any additional screening.

    Sadly I dont expect the TSA to be very discreet or sensitive on this issue. I also dont think “live-tweeting” your TSA experience does you any favors regardless of your experience. AA, while technically under no obligation to accomodate should have done the right thing and re-booked this woman to her intended destinaton on standby at no-charge.

  26. @john,

    No doubt, unfortunately I think Americans have a very short memory.

    As for Thailand, my experience has always been that they have the best security theater ever. Everyone goes though a metal detector, it alarms EVERY TIME, and the courteous staff just waive you though with minimal delay. Easy Peasy.

  27. @Nick, I think you are mistaken in your comment. You say that she is “legally, personally, and spiritually” a woman, however, I don’t think that she is legally a woman. I am pretty sure that her drivers license, passport, and airline ticket would have identified her as male. Having said that, I would argue that this is the very reason that she should not have been detained. If all legal documentation identified her as a man, there was no anomaly, she had the image that she should have had. However, if you are correct and all of her documentation identified her as a woman, then the TSA was right to question what the anomalous image was showing.

  28. @Farnorthtrader

    Why should TSA question her gender if she identifies by it? Gender is what you identify yourself as, not what you have.

  29. How would this play out if it were an amputee who didn’t alert the TSA to a prosthetic limb, and they asked him/her to pass through security again or asked to inspect the prosthetic? Equal amounts of outrage?

  30. While I’m not in medicine, I’ve got to believe gender (maleness or femaleness) doesn’t depend on what I call myself. It is a function of my anatomy. Transgender individuals deserve as much respect as the rest of us though.

  31. @john

    That’s a common misconception. What you’re talking about is SEX, but not gender. While the two terms often overlap with many people, there are instance where one’s biological sex is not identical to the gender they identify themselves as.

  32. I have a plea: Very few non-trans people know enough about trans issues to be as confident as we seem in our comments. Just have a little humility, and be willing to learn something. It does a body good, as regarding this issue and much else in life.

    @Farnorthtrader: This is a great example!

    1. In fact, to change the gender on a driver’s license, many states, including Florida require some documentation from a physician stating that the person is in appropriate treatment for gender dysphoria. Very few require sex reassignment surgery anymore. I doubt this will get through the spam filter, but if you google “transequality” and “documents,” the first hit will be a great state-by-state resource.

    Why would you be “pretty sure” about what a trans person’s legal documents would say? Have you ever researched this issue? Talked with a trans person about their ID hassles?

    (Regarding the airline ticket, Quiz: When you’ve booked an airline ticket in the past, do you put the gender in the secure flight field? Or does god do it?)

    2. That brings us to your second point: Because her genitalia doesn’t, in the TSA officer’s opinion, match her driver’s license, she is a security threat. What exactly is the specific security threat? Really, just ponder that for a second, and if you have a good answer, I’ll eat my shoe.

    As Nick very eloquently said above, people commit suicide over this. All the time. Take that tragedy as a reason to pause and examine what you think you know.

  33. @Nick: “Shadi is a woman, legally, personally, spiritually.” That’s as may be, but, importantly, Shadi is male physically. As I understand it, body scanners can be set to “look for” body characteristics of males or females. “The body scan machines used at most airports nationwide feature pink and blue start buttons, which activate computer algorithms designed to screen female and male passengers.” http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/26/groin-anomalies-andpatdownstravelingwhiletrans.html
    (I don’t always cite to news websites on OMAAT, but when I do, I choose Al Jazeera)
    My surmise is that the TSA agent wanted Shadi to go back through with the machine set to “male” and Shadi flipped out. (Damn, I think I just defended the TSA). The situation wasn’t handled with kid gloves, but the problems don’t appear one-sided to this neutral observer.

  34. Nick, this was a great piece, thanks for that. Very few people understand the complexities of the multitude of issues associated with gender identity, and you laid out some of the issues in a very understandable, approachable way. Well done.

  35. I read the interview with her on Salon, and I think there’s a few points that need to be clarified.

    According to her description, when a person goes through the scanner the TSA screener has to select “male” or “female”, which determines what parameters the machine uses to look for potential hidden items. If the screener selects “female”, and the machine detects something where something shouldn’t be according to that definition, it’s display indicates where the anomalous item is. The machine is using a “standard” definition of male or female body configuration, and realistically can’t take all possible self-identifications into account.

    Judging by her interview, at this point she had a bit of an “I’m a special snowflake” moment, said that she was a woman but had a penis, and then when offered manual pat-down indicated that she would only accept her groin being touched by a male screener, but not the rest of her body, and vice-versa for a female screener. Things then spun out of control.

    I’m not actually sure how to address this issue. (Well, one way would be to get rid of the scanners entirely and tone down the “security theatre”, and especially the mission creep where the scanners are there as much to fight the “war on drugs” rather than actual aviation security, but in the short run that’s not gonna happen.) The screener could have sent her back through with the scanner set on “male”, addressing her self-identification issue by saying something along the lines of “while you’re a woman, you’ve said that parts of your body still have what our computer considers a “male” configuration, so l’ll use that setting”. Or TSA could have had two agents do the patdown per her request. Or she could have been a little more flexible about the patdown (I’m a guy, but I wouldn’t care if a female agent did a patdown, just as I don’t care if I go to get a massage and get a male massage therapist. These aren’t sexual situations.)

    My main concerns here are:

    * the whole business with the chemical screening that came up only after the initial issues. This reeks of harassment, or at least a mentality of “we’ve gotta stick something on her…”

    * American’s entire response. Very poorly handled.

    As the whole “trans-rights” movement becomes more prominent, this sort of issue is going to keep coming up, and it is a big challenge, especially since “trans” (the quotations are me having a grammar-purist moment: “trans” is a prefix, not a stand-alone word. Of course I still get a headache when people use “gift” as a verb, and want to throw things at my TV when commercials treat adjectives as nouns (“feed your awesome”, “what is your fit?”, etc.) people don’t all identify as a single group, and in basic public accommodation we can’t realistically use the Facebook solution of having 50-plus pronouns. The best we can probably do is be understanding and flexible, and the transgender community is going to have to realize that, since many of their self-definitions are so individual, that they may have to be flexible too.

  36. So sex and gender are different. Okay. My driver’s license and passport refer to sex not gender. What does a transgender person do with that?

  37. While AA seems to have made some offensive comments I fail to see how a passenger not making a flight is AA’s responsibility to fix. AA should have been more proactive in helping the passenger, I’d think from a sheer customer service standpoint. But to say that a TSA problem should require AA to have much to do seems shortsighted, no matter the reason for the TSA holdup. While it’s true that the passenger did not expect TSA problems he thus couldn’t know to arrive earlier. My father knows to arrive earlier to avoid pacemaker problems. Passenger certainly didn’t improve things when choosing to live tweet the whole thing. But in it all I don’t see much fault from AA…

  38. @Sice – I don’t think most people expect AA to bend over backward for what was, at its heart a TSA issue, but at various points AA was sending tweets to the effect of “she’s taken care of, everything is wonderful” while, at the exact same time, they had actually done nothing to assist and were passive-aggressively blaming her (at least in part) for missing the flight.

    It shows the problem a lot of companies still seem to have with social media – there’s a mentality that says you have to get out in front of breaking events, but they don’t seem to internalize that in the Twitter era, fact-checking is both easy and fast, and if you tell porkies you’re going to get called out almost immediately. In this case it would have been better for AA to just be quiet until they could confirm the facts on the ground, instead of giving out information that contradicted by what’s being seen and commented on by third parties, in this case (among others) the Orlando Police.

  39. @Sam, I thought I was being balanced, but apparently I am an ignorant bigoted ass. What percentage of transgender people that have not had gender reassignment surgery would have a driver’s license/passport that reflects their chosen gender, rather than their sex?
    In regard to the sex question on the ticket, you can put whatever you want in there, but if it does not match the rest of your documentation, it may very well create further issues of the sort seen in this situation.
    To answer your “eating your shoe” question, if all of her documentation is showing her as female and there is something in her pants that does not match with the standard female image from the scanner, the image is not sufficiently detailed to be able to tell what that item in her pants is composed of. It could be a penis or it could be plastic explosives, the image cannot tell. That is the specific security threat and, apparently in this case, it was backed up by an explosives swab.

  40. @farnorthtrader Here’s the thing: I don’t know if you’re a bigoted ass, because I don’t know you, but I didn’t call you that. You just seem to be making a lot of assumptions without knowing what you’re talking about. I don’t actually know what percentage do, but it’s plenty, enough to have pushed most states into changing their laws on the subject in the last few years.

    I mean that–I’m not calling you a bigot. I’m asking that if you don’t know basic facts about a group of people (and many, many people of good will also don’t), make an effort to learn those facts before judging a situation.

    And if you think women wearing fake plastic explosive dildos are a sufficient threat to cause trans people to have to go through this at airport security, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  41. @farnorthtrader

    The State Department no longer requires gender-reassignment surgery to change the gender on your passport, and I’m pretty sure that its not longer a requirement in a majority of states to change it on your drivers license, so I imagine that a relatively large number of openly trans people at least have passports that reflect their gender identity. Frankly, if the State Department is ok with trans people changing their gender identity on passports it shouldn’t be that hard for the TSA to be trained on how to handle such situations. I have to imagine that there has to be a way to train people how to distinguish between a penis and a bomb.

    If you truly are open to learning how to be more accepting and inclusive of trans people, the single biggest thing you can do is understand that, just as with non-trans people, a trans person’s genitalia is absolutely none of yours or anyone else’s business. Just because a trans person has not had full gender reassignment surgery doesn’t mean that their gender identity should be subject to question by you or anyone else. Accept the gender identity as they present it to you and move on.

  42. this is one of those threads where avoiding the comments is the best idea for one’s peace of mind.

    being trans is not a disease. it is not a mental illness. it is not a psychiatric disorder, just like Ben’s sexual orientation is not a disease or a disorder. You might want to look into what actual mental illnesses look like and read up on them before you go making those claims.

    And, as someone said, the TSA scans check for weapons. When you go through the scanner, at least in my experience, there is always a sign posted that says that the TSA agents will see a “generic outline of a body.” On their screen, they are looking at a generic human form. If they’re not – that is, if they’re actually mapping you, with your clothes off, on their screen….that is a huge violation of privacy and a PR shitstorm waiting to happen. You know, like the shitstorm that actualy happened when they instituted those?

  43. I’m normally one of TSA’s harshest critics, but in this case I’m willing to give them a slight bit of credit. Not full credit, but slight.

    When you present yourself at a security checkpoint, the guard/tin-star rent-a-cop/border patrol officer/police officer/federal agent you encounter is most interested in how truthful you’ll be with them. If you stay 100% honest with them, even if you’re breaking the law, many times they’ll handle the situation much more civilly than if they stumble across the falsehood. They may even be willing to let you off with a warning and send you on your way. My job has me working with all sorts of law enforcement at the state and federal levels. Many senior and retired federal agents. They’ll all tell you a suspect’s trustworthiness is one of the first judgements they make and determines how they’ll handle the situation.

    In this case, we have someone who is anatomically male, dressed like a female. I’m assuming “Shadi” never informed TSA of his male anatomy. The TSAhole sees something dressed like a woman and pushes the female button. He is scanned and found to be carrying an undeclared penis. Problem. He has just hit the #1 trigger point with anyone in a guard position — not being up-front and honest. At this point they’re done listening to him. He’s already proven unreliable when it comes to disclosing the truth.

    Re: transgender issues — we’re all dealt a deck of cards in life. Invariably there will be certain cards we dislike — learn to deal with it. In high school I was often called “the gayest straight guy” or “the lesbian in a man’s body.” Much of the student body thought I was indeed gay. I wasn’t interested in jumping the bones of every female that walked past me; for that matter I wasn’t interested in jumping anyone’s bones. I prefer to attend Fashion Week (and do every year) than a sporting event. I prefer chick flicks to action films. I value relationships over money and would rather talk about relationships than politics/business. My female friends outnumber my male friends by a ratio of about 5:1. In many cases I know more about my female friends than their husbands do, just because they talk with me “like one of the gals.” All of that said, I was born with a penis, therefore I am a man. Maybe not the most studly, testosterone-filled, warrior/conqueror man, but still a man nonetheless. Maybe if I grew up society today I’d consider myself trans… but at the end of the day, I’ve accepted what’s in my pants and learned to live with it.

  44. So Shadi may have been able to handle this situation better, and in future may well do so.

    BUT the big issue here is that the TSA did not handle the situation in a professional and empathic manner.

    I am guessing that the TSA screener was not educated in dealing with Trans people, and possibly allowed their personal prejudice to sway they way they dealt with this human being, who is someones daughter/son loved on etc.

    I feel sorry for the TSA they have a mongrel of a job to do, they are most likely poorly paid for a highly responsible job, dealing with people who are stressed due to being in a unknown environment. I’m a frequent flyer and find the process of screening annoying and frustrating, WHILE at the same time being 110% supportive of the job that they are doing.

    I strongly support Shadi’s use of social media, this means that the TSA are now aware, that they will hopefully get some training on this issue, and there will be no more dramas like this.

    All people deserve to be treated by the Golden Rule, it is a rule that comes up in Christianity, Judaism, Buddism, Hindu and even Islam, that is to “treat others as you would like to be treated” not your place to judge if someone is mentally ill or different, just be nice, do what you need to do with them with the minumum of fuss and drama. While you may not identify as transgender, or even understand it, agree with it or not, there is no need to be unpleasant about it.

  45. I resent all these people who insist on educating me about their “situation.” When I walk through TSA with my tons of crap and family, I smile and comply. I don’t think someone making the little they probably do needs to be harassed. How about the service industry starts to insist on better treatment. Nurses in ERs are kicked on the job too and nobody gave a damn until Joy Behar chose to belittle them.

  46. Way to troll-bait for more hits. Why is this even here? I’d rather read more reviews or get more tips on earning points. I can get this crap on any one of another low rate websites. You guys are above this.

  47. This is a good post on an issue that’s really important to trans people.

    There are lots of people commenting who really seem to have to go out of their way to put down trans people who live as the gender not implied by their genitalia. I honestly don’t get why people have to be so vehement about it. The world is full of people you think have a preposterous invisible imaginary friend–even if you’re religious, you think *other* people’s gods are silly–yet we treat this delusion respectfully in public. A delusion about an imaginary friend ought to be more ridiculous than (what you consider) one about gender–why not treat that one respectfully too?

    Setting all that aside–The TSA’s approach is flawed. There are going to be people with penises presenting as men, and people without them presenting as women. That’s their right. If a penis on someone presenting as a woman can be confused with explosives, they’d better pat down everyone who has an “anomaly”. Otherwise the way to bring explosives in will be to take someone who presents as a man but doesn’t have a penis and put the explosives in that person’s pants. Or, use technology that can distinguish dicks from dynamite.

  48. I have traveled a few times as female recently and have not had an issue. From what I have read seams that the individual is blowing this incident out of proportion. I did have to go through the scanner a second time on one occasion but all that was said was that I had to step back and redo the scan ( I am sure it was to rescan as male though nothing was said)

    As far as missing her flight, why would that be AA fault. Sounds as if the airport was fairly busy with travelers. It is not the airlines fault if you do not give yourself enough time. There is a reason you are told arrive 2 hours earlier than flight. If you know you are traveling during heavy travel time. Give yourself more time.

    As far as pat down if traveling as female expect pat down to be conducted by a female TSA. On my first flight traveling as female I had the opportunity to talk with a female TSA person at Ohare airport. Found her to be very respectful. She had her partner cover for her so we could step to the side for more privacy with conversation. Basically she assured me when traveling as female I would be treated as female. I am sorry to some, but why would you want a male to do the pat down. That would seem to me to only draw attention to yourself. If you do not want to be treated as female do not present yourself as one.

  49. The idea of re scanning “as a man” won’t work in a lot of cases either. For a lot of trans woman their breasts will then be an “anomaly.” This shows that either way a trans person is subject to issues with the current system. It also exposes the fact as someone stated that now a flat chested woman can smuggle something in her bra because she then better matches what TSA expects? Or a man with a smaller penis can smuggle something because of TSA norms? All of this is safety theater at the expense of the traveler and tax payer.

    I won’t comment on the ignorant of what it means to be trans comments or trolling transgender baiting.

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