Exposing My Self to Airport Security

[Ed Note:  this story continues to get a high volume of interest, months after being posted. Please take the time to read the whole post as well as the accompanying comments.  There are questions and criticisms in those comments that I've responded to, which helps to provide a more complete picture of what happened, what my actions were and what they were not.  Thank you for your interest.

See also my update to this story.  I've written letters, and been in correspondence with officials from the SF Airport and Homeland Security.]

 

As if it wasn’t hard enough to say goodbye to Roxy Sunday night, I ended up getting special, unwanted, attention from the TSA personnel (bad touch! bad touch!).  I have enjoyed flying Virgin America because of their excellent customer service and onboard amenities, but I’m beginning to see a downside.  Virgin flies out of the international terminals (at least in Seattle and San Francisco) and the recent bomb scare has caused increased security for international travelers .. even when they’re domestic.

We’d gotten to the airport with plenty of time to check my luggage and get my boarding pass.  We calculated how much time we could spend in a back corner of the foodcourt, getting as many snuggles and laughs in as possible.  We were heading over to security when we saw that my flight, and a bunch of others, was marked ‘Delayed’.  Huh.  A quick consult with the Virgin ticket counter revealed that incoming flights were being delayed because of weather which was having a domino effect on the departing flights.  It now looked like I’d have another hour and a half to hang out at the airport.  We took it as bonus time, but I could feel the tension rising in me.  I hate leaving her, but it was stressful to be ready for goodbyes and then have uncertainty about when I would truly be leaving.

We sat near security, near the flight board, Roxy doing what she could to massage the tension out of my neck and shoulders.  She compared me to a chunk of granite.  About a half hour went by and she got up to check the board again.  Still delayed.  Another 20 minutes and we looked at the board with a shock.  The flight was now scheduled to leave on time and I wasn’t through security yet.  I had about 10 minutes.  We performed a very abbreviated version of our usual goodbye ritual and I began making my way to the checkpoint.  No biggy.. I know my way through security.  I pulled my laptop out and my shoes and put my stuff in the bins and started walking toward the xray machine, looking back at Roxy and blowing her kisses every few minutes.  I didn’t even notice that we weren’t walking through the typical metal detecting archway.

And so it was that I found myself inside a cylindrical booth with my feet on yellow shoe shaped marks and my hands above my head.  The biometric scanner did its thing and I wasn’t thinking much of it.  I didnt’ have any metal on my body, except for two earrings and a couple of surgical screws in my knee.  I travel enough to know to get the change out of my pocket, put my watch in my back pack and pull my metal-studded belt off.    Maybe I was slow on the uptake, distracted by having to leave my Roxy on the other side of security.  At any rate, I couldn’t fathom why they had me stand aside on another set of yellow shoe shaped marks after coming out of the scanner.  Add that to the fact that one of the TSA agents was bitching me out for not putting my laptop in a bin (Seattle doesn’t want you to, SFO does). I was told to stay where I was and watched as my stuff rumbled on down the conveyer belt.  I was pointing out the other bins that belonged to me and the woman was scowling.  Then the agent who was standing with me, keeping me in place got my attention.  She was a tall, young woman and seemed pretty uncomfortable, sheepish even.  She asked me if I had anything else in my pockets or ‘around this area’ as she gestured at my pelvis.  I still hadn’t clued in to what she was on about as I patted down my pockets and felt only my ID and boarding pass.

“No, nothing in my pockets” I looked up at her quizzically and she sighed and said again, with more specific hand gestures directed at the area between my front pockets,”Are you sure there’s nothing here, in *this* area.”

Ohfuck, internal groan, slight shake of the head, and a bit of a frown.  Deep breath, straightening my shoulders, looking straight into her eyes,”Oh, that.  I have a packing cock.  Is that what the problem is?”

I stared right at her until she looked away and called for assistance for a pat-down search.  I gaped, chin dropped: holy shit, they’re gonna give me a pat down cuz I’m packing a silicon cock.  Fuuckkkk.. Not only was it humiliating, I was worried about making my flight.  I was trying not to be agitated, that wasn’t going to help, but I wanted them to hurry it along.  I looked up at the young woman, “Please, whatever you need to do is fine, but can we hurry a bit, I don’t want to miss my flight.”  I looked behind me to see where Roxy was, but there were a lot of people in the way. The older woman who came to her assistance was the same one who had scolded me about my laptop.  The scowl was apparently her only facial expression.  As they led me to a small room to the side of the security area, I looked back to see Roxy with a very concerned look on her face.  I did a big pointing motion at my crotch and then went into the little room with them.  They donned their purple latex gloves.  I did as requested stood with my hands up, feet in a wide stance as the young woman did an almost touchless pat down.  Seriously, she barely touched me but I think that’s cuz she knew there wasn’t anything in my pockets and she didn’t want to touch my cock.  She looked at the older woman, clearly hoping that was sufficient.  Scowling Woman glared at me and scowled at her.

I sighed again, and decided to do what I could to get this over with, “Look, it’s a silicone penis, in my briefs.  Do you need me to take it out and show you?”

The younger woman looked mortified, this was pretty much exactly what she didn’t want to see.  The older woman scowled even more (she had an amazing ability to scowl) and said something like “Well, we have to check.”

“Fine, I’ll show you then,” and I had my buttons open and my cock in my hand before they could say anything more. “See? it’s a silicon penis.  Are we done now?”  It’s possible I brandished it at them, I was pretty angry by then.  It was hard to stay calm, but I managed.  I just wanted these people to let me go so I could finish the miserable process of leaving Roxy.  The older woman nodded to us curtly and was halfway out of the room, leaving the door open, before I had my pants closed up.. thanks for the respectful privacy.. not.  I tucked myself back in and hustled out of the room in time to see The Scowler digging my laptop bag out of a bin.

“This yours?  I need to search.”  Oh, for fucks sake, more?  But this time it was me who’d fucked up.  She went through all the little velcroed pockets pulling out cords and peripherals and then out came a small silver object and my heart dropped.  My new pocket knife, a christmas gift from my wife.  I would have sworn I put that in my checked luggage.  Dammit, of all things to add to this nightmare.  I looked back to where Roxy was struggling to see me through the plexiglass and motioned for her to stay where she was.  ”Look, I meant that for my checked luggage.  I don’t want to lose it, can I give it to my friend? She’s right there” I pointed.  Scowling woman got even more impatient and unhappy with me.  She finished with my bag and asked 5 times which person I was talking about and then took the knife to Roxy.  I have to say, they did a crappy job of communicating to me that they were done with the search.  I had to ask more than once if I could put my belt back on, get my shoes and stuff.  I was trying to expedite the process so I could get to my flight.  I didn’t have my cellphone out or my watch on and didn’t know what time it was but knew I was cutting it close.

Finally, I was fully dressed and had my gear. My body was warm and jacked up on adreanaline.  When I called Roxy to explain what had happened, I’m sure my voice was shaking.  She was wonderful, supportive and indignant at what had happened.  I hustled to my gate, breathlessly giving her details and feeling a warm layer of her love and pride wrap itself around me.

So, my trans and genderqueer brothers and sisters, this is what we’re going to put up with in the new age of biometric airport security scanning.  If you choose to pack while going through security, build in some extra time.  Be ready for this.  You need to be ready because they probably won’t be.  They don’t know what to do with us gender outlaws.  The body language was pretty clear:  this was embarassing and inconvenient to them and they were struggling to deal with their very unprofessional feelings about my physical augmentation.  I was completely caught off guard this time, but I’ll be prepared next time.  And, yes, there will be a next time because I’m not going to put my cock in my luggage.  I’ve put up with a lot of bullshit in my life about being queer, not looking like enough like a woman, I’m not going to start conforming now.  The one exception is when travelling with my family.  My wife made a special request that I not put them through delays on our trips together and I’ll honor that request.  But the rest of my travels, I’ll pack my cock proudly.  I’ll whip it out for security if I need to and I’ll do it with my head up and my eyes squarely on theirs.  They need to be made aware of the human side of these policies.  Yes, I want air travel to be secure.  Yes, I know a guy just snuck bad stuff onto a plane in his underwear.  So, fine, check my briefs for explosives, but be respectful.  The Scowler was dismissive, disapproving and disrespectful.  The younger woman was out of her element but I believe wanted to do the right thing by me, she was just woefully under prepared for the implications of their new security policies.

For more info on Biometric scanners and current airports employing them, see this Imaging Technology article on the TSA sight.  I think it’s interesting that I could have passed on the scanner and asked for a pat down instead.  Clearly even the pat down wasn’t going to do the trick. Doing some research this morning, I found numerous sights discussing the rights and wrongs of this technology, including stories about people having to remove their prosthetic limbs in front of other passengers. Transgender and genderqueer folks like me will have their privacy and identities violated (article on transgendered related security concerns and the ACLU’s response).

I made my flight, with a little time to spare, but no time to grab a soda or anything to munch on.  My separation from Roxy was abrupt and we were cut out of our usual lingering kisses and feverish hugs.  Instead of sailing through security like I normally did, I ended up wagging my cock at two female TSA agents.  What a way to end the weekend.  And it was a fabulous weekend.  I promise to share more about that soon.  For Roxy’s perspective on this incident, check out “Cocks of Mass Destruction” on her blog, UncommonCuriosity.

 

[ed. note: Yes, the Scowling One did take my pocket knife to Roxy who is mailing it back to me.  Thanks for asking, JesseJames]

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46 Responses to Exposing My Self to Airport Security

  1. Pingback: Cocks of Mass Destruction « Uncommon Curiosity

  2. Roxy says:

    My love, I am so proud of you for staying fiercely calm in the face of a humiliating and disparaging situation. It was a terribly frustrating experience for both of us – I so missed being able to hold you and tell you how proud I was in person, rather than separated by glass and guards – but I’m once again amazed at how well you responded to a difficult situation.

    You’re my hero, Kyle. :)

  3. jesse james says:

    Oh my my, that sounds awful! Good for you for staying strong and getting through that. I love that you said, “I ended up wagging my cock at two female TSA agents. What a way to end the weekend.” Indeed.

    I didn’t catch whether or not you got the pocket knife to Roxy?… sure hope so.

  4. Blazer says:

    I hope you write a letter to TSA, SFO and any other entity involved. I had joked with you about *ahem* explosive underwear the day you left on your trip and didn’t for a moment consider that they would pick up a cock during screening. This needs to be turned into a learning experience for the TSA staff. One would hope that they would be able to “think on their feet” and be respectful when they encounter something for the first time. Obviously this is not the case, and there needs to be trans sensitivity training added to the curriculum.

    I agree. They do need some sensitivity training for trans folks and anyone using prosthetics for whatever reason. It’s not illegal to use prosthetics, and we should be made to feel that we’re undesirables. And I will work on a letter to send to those entities.

  5. greg says:

    Oh my goodness, that’s awful! Good for you for standing tall, Kyle.

  6. Arron says:

    Holy shit, that’s messed up. Nobody should have to be put through that kinda stuff. And yes, I think a letter is in order.

  7. Laken says:

    Kyle, this is the first time I’ve commented on your blog, but I’ve been a reader for awhile now. I was so amazed by your story, that I immediately emailed it to a trans friend of mine in Portland. He travels back to our hometown quite often, and he and I discussed how appalled we both are at how you were treated. My friend said that if this ever happens to him, let’s hope it doesn’t, he will proudly wear his cock through security, take it out if needed, and not feel ashamed because he knows there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Thanks for setting such a great example for us all.

  8. Firebolt says:

    What an awful situation! Good on you for holding your head high throughout the humiliating deal. Your courage inspires me – someone who already has body image issues – to be strong and not feel awkward in public regarding self-image. And a letter to TSA is definitely in order.

  9. kaitlin says:

    Wow, I know when you twittered it I couldn’t help but giggle but that was mostly because I though it was in your carry on and not on your person. That is aweful. Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience.

  10. Suzy says:

    Given that the bomber who nearly succeeded in destroying an aircraft landing at Boston on Christmas Day had his explosives packed round his groin, going through airport security with any equipment there that you were not born with is, well, a tad dumb.

    Really? So amputees should just drop their limbs in the bins and people with breast implants should pop them out? What’s dumb is not being sensitive to the existence of all kinds of legal and non-threatening physical augmentations, used for a variety of reasons. I’m not going to happily hand over my civil liberties and accept second class status because of what terrorist may or may not do.

  11. Susan says:

    *shakes her head* Agreed with your comment there, Kyle. It is indeed horrible.

  12. Roxy says:

    It saddens me to see people so willing to attack and blame others when they get scared.

    My whole life I have watched the gun lobbyists successfully insist, with an American flag over their heart and an earnestly patriotic expression on their faces, that the fact that some people use guns to kill should not, in any way, restrict their own personal use of a gun. This argument has been based on “personal freedom” and “the American way.” It angers me when those in power get to dictate that those personal freedoms are not as dear for the minority.

    Suzy, please, look into the connections between Michael Chertoff and the scanner industry. Look up the questionable reliability of these machines, and then look at how much money stands to be made by the industry. Yes, there are security risks with air flight, but know that the hysteria has been manipulated by people more interested in making money than in security.

    And then, please consider that some of us believe that respect is something that should never be sacrificed for the comfort of the majority. Both agents at the airport could have chosen to treat Kyle with respect and sensitivity, assuming innocence rather than guilt, and he would have come out of the incident with a very different impression. Instead, he was treated like a criminal, handled rudely and humiliated. The fact that you choose to turn it around to blame him is a sad statement on compassion.

    From “A Man for All Seasons”:

    Sir Thomas More: There’s no law against that.

    William Roper: God’s law!

    Sir Thomas More: Then God can arrest him.

    William Roper: While you talk, he’s gone!

    Sir Thomas More: Go he should, if he were the Devil, until he broke the law.

    William Roper: Now you give the Devil benefit of law!

    Sir Thomas More: Yes, what would you do?

    William Roper: Cut a road through the law to get after the Devil? Yes. I’d cut down every law in England to do that.

    Sir Thomas More: And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned on you…where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast…Man’s laws, not God’s, and if you cut them down…and you’re just the man to do it…do you really think you could stand upright in the wind that would blow then? Yes. I give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety’s sake.

  13. Kyle says:

    I wanted to add, in answer to Suzy’s comment, that it’s pretty easy to sit in judgement when your normal state of being conforms to the dominant paradigm. But I don’t have that luxury. In some aspects I’ve enjoyed privilege and good fortune, but for most of my life I’ve been on the outside of ‘normal’ looking in. I went through stages where I tried to conform, but those attempts always led to bad results. I don’t have the ability to lie to myself that well. I’ve gone through stages where I ranted and raved and wanted to tear down the edifice of conformity so that everyone would feel as left out as I did.

    I’ve settled into myself and become more patient and forgiving of others, however, I am also very fiercely protective of my internal truth. I will push against conformity as much as I can while retaining my job and the safety of my family. I will not go the easy route just because it’s easy and would make other people less uncomfortable.

    Suzy decided to blame me for being treated differently, she blamed the victim. Her thinking is indicative of people who’ve been lucky enough to be born in the norm — she apparently doesn’t need to compromise her self and identity to get along easily in the world, so doesn’t understand the challenges of being born outside the norm. For those of you who do understand, I wish you all strength and patience in just being yourselves. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and so I will chalk Suzy’s comment up to the ignorance of privilege.

    Namaste

  14. alex says:

    Kyle! Crazy! But you know what? You just educated 2 women who probably would never have even thought that “packing cocks” were on the market. We’re losing our privacy left and right but we can also use these opportunites (?) to teach the vanilla public about different lifestyles. Keep your chin up and your cock packed tight!

    Bummer ’bout the knife but holy hell – they didn’t confiscate it!? They took my beeswax but not your knife?

    they weren’t going to let me keep it. I guess I should be thankful for small miracles that Scowling woman handed it over to Roxy instead of keeping it.

    And I agree that educational opportunities should be taken advantage of. Not everyone can do this, I understand that, but each of us who feels strong enough to stand up and speak our truths out loud, should. Thanks for your support .. :-)

  15. Eris says:

    oh, shit, I forgot about my implants!

    This makes me want to go get my bits pierced, too. just so it will show up in their scanner.

    Bottom line: Everyone is different, and we should ALL be treated with respect, no matter how we choose to live.

    Although I think the older lady treated you the same way she treated everyone else, with scorn and disdain. Doesn’t sound like she treated even the “normal” people with respect, really.

  16. Joanna Cake says:

    Hey Kyle

    Like Alex said, here’s another woman educated about something of which she had no knowledge.

    I actually felt quite sorry for the young woman who had to examine you for, in a similar situation being confronted with something of which I was completely unaware, I think I might also have been rather ineffectual.

    But, of course, I felt far more sorry to hear about the terrible way that you were treated. I wrote ‘inept’ at first, but it was far worse than that. It was undignified and quite wrong but you dealt with it with great courage – as it would seem you have a lot of the problems in your life.

    I am a first time visitor and I shall be coming by again.

    Very pleased to meet you and Roxy x

  17. Onyx says:

    Dude…..The TSA is 10% actually useful, 90% security theater, implementing a lot of useless measure to give the appearance of doing something useful.

    But alas, people are so irrationally afraid of TEH TERRARISTS so they’ll accept all sorts of ludicrous measures they think will keep them safe.

    Really sorry you had to go through that, but your spirit, your refusal to compromise who you are and your courage as always serves as an inspiration my friend.

  18. Knowledge says:

    Wow, what a story, and an awesome display of pride. I just had to comment and say hats off to you, and thank you for bringing this to our attention. It’s so easy to forget when we’re packing (in eithe sense) for a vacation or business trip and airport security must be encountered. I recall a while back sweating bullets at my decision to take my bag as a carry on, instead of checking it like I usually do. Reason being, I had my strap and leather harness included, and I knew the outline would show. Thankfully, there was no fanfare whatsoever, but on a much more miniscule level, I can relate to the adrenaline rush just at the prospect of *discovery*. It is a shame we live in a society where we’re constantly paying for the miss-deeds of others, i.e., terrorists. Alas, we must be on alert to ensure we are prepared for anything when it comes to passing through security. You’re so correct in saying that we have to be ready, because they sure won’t be.

    So glad everything worked out for you, and the situation wasn’t any worse.

  19. Robin says:

    I had to giggle at you whipping it out for them. I basically got the same treatment over pierced body parts. I thought the woman was going to come unglued because I was just going to whip said body parts out (she actually wanted me to get undressed!). Considering all the metal I am packing, I always look forward to getting wanded and then molested. Crazy times (but glad you had an excellent visit with Ms Roxy!).

  20. TT says:

    Sounds like you managed it with grace.

    The National Center for Transgender Equality has been working on this for a few years now. Please take a look at
    http://www.transequality.org/Resources/NCTE_Body_Scan.pdf
    and
    http://www.transequality.org/Resources/NCTE_Secure_Flight.pdf

    There are suggestions for what to do when someone is ill treated.

    Please post these links to the FL thread as I don’t have an account there.

  21. Paul says:

    Honestly, this could have been worse. I am sorry you had to go through this, but you were not arrested and you were not deported.
    You didn’t even miss your flight.
    As a trans guy, I don’t think you should have gone on the flight packing. None of this should have been news to you. They have been ramping up security for months and especially after the guy tried to blow up his pants.

    I think you could have handled this better. You could have put your packer in a carry on until you were past security. Does that suck? Yes it does. But it would have saved you some time.

    Getting “hassled” by security does not make you an outlaw, and you are not a bad ass or heroic for “brandishing” a phallus at any woman.
    Those women probably make minimum wage and were just trying to do their jobs.

    How you could have not foreseen this happening given the information out there and the current news about airport security is sort of beyond my comprehension.

    You more than likely would have had smooth sailing through airport security if you hadn’t packed or had a knife in your bag.

    I know I have on the cross country flights that I have taken without packing and without knives in my carry-ons. You want to know why? Because I don’t do those things and not expect to get stopped by security even prior to bio-metric scans.

    Have I had my bags searched and there been a cock in my carry-on? you bet. But I was not essentially “waggling” (re:potentially sexually harrassing women who were already uncomfortable even by your own admission) a cock at them.

    Paul, thanks for expressing your opinion. Isn’t it wonderful we can do that in this country? As for the knife being the cause of my problems, nope, can’t agree with you on that one. They didn’t connect my carry on bag to me until after the scanner personnel had flagged me for additional inspection. Glad you have it so easy, and without feeling as though you need to compromise your values.

  22. Roxy says:

    Paul – You bring up some very interesting points, ones worth discussing and considering further. However, I have to object to your explanation that if you are willing to take off your packing cock, all trans and genderqueer guys should be willing to. That you take yours off certainly does make travel easier for you, but to extend that to an admonition about how other people should behave based on your own personal comfort level is ridiculous, especially as a trans guy. The point here is not whether you are comfortable, it’s whether he was, and I would like to think that in San Francisco there would have been better training to deal with this. He said up front that it was a packing cock. The agents should have called for a manager or another person if they were uncomfortable or unwilling to proceed – it’s certainly part of their job to be searching women this way, and shouldn’t be considered somehow unfair that they would have to.

    The bigger issue here is the pressure to not make ripples, just to go along with the crowd. Yes, it’s true, many of us are able to do that. However, just because he chooses to do something that’s legal, that does not give agents the right to treat him with disdain or disgust, or to respond to him with silence (a well-known method of intimidation.)

    The pressure to be like everyone else is a terrible thing. Do not assume that your willingness to go along with the majority makes you a hero, either. It may just mean it’s easier for you to do so.

  23. TT says:

    I think there are a few things about this situation worth noting, which perhaps might be useful for other people, including those of us who do not have the option of removing a necessary accommodation. (Personally I would find ‘waving it around’ to be more mortifying than getting searched.)

    It seems that calling it a “packing cock” (which most people will naturally understand to be a dildo) was an admission to TSA that it was not a prosthetic device. So it is not surprising that it was treated as a sex toy which should have been, umm, packed…but in a suitcase.

    Calling it a “cock” is another factor, especially for female TSA agents. That isn’t considered polite language and may have “upped the ante” a bit.

    The fact that the dildo was noticeable as bulge in your pants also may have influenced things so that it was not likely to be treated as a medical accommodation or prosthetic device. It’s hard to tell how outsized it was, but most of the packies sold are far larger than appropriate for FTMs who want to get read as men. (It sounds like that is not your goal, but it’s relevant to others.)

    Finally, the fact that they assigned female TSA officers to watch your scan walk-through is a clue about the factor of passing, which unfortunately does have a serious impact here. That could have been used as information to better present things in a matter of fact light. And for most of the guys I know who don’t pass, they unfortunately have to fall back to a less preferred expression. They leave packies in their bags, decide to bind less, and so on.

    I guess the whole incident would read a bit differently if there was not an aspect of trying to shock the TSA agents. It must have been very awkward, and maybe that is where some of your reactions were coming from. I hope the next time goes better.

    good points, good points. There are a few things I’d like to clarify, assumptions you’ve incorrectly made, unfortunately.

    Surprise is a factor in my reactions and in the language I used. Yes, the first thing I blurted was ‘this is a packing cock” because that’s what I call it. In all further communication about it I referred to it as a ‘silicon penis’ because the word ‘prosthetic’ didn’t even occur to me. And yes, it was the larger of the two I own, mostly because I had a girlfriend at the other end of my flight and I enjoy her enjoyment of it. The Levis I was wearing don’t show it too obscenely, however, so it wasn’t a gigantic bulge. Also factor in that I pack every day and barely even think about it anymore. I’m serious about being surprised it was even a factor, and that it took a while to figure out why she was gesturing at my pelvis. It’s just there, you know? Like my ring and my bracelet.

    To clarify, it was not a dildo or a rigid penile facsimile at all. I can barely sit comfortably packing one of those, and wouldn’t think to do so for a flight. Not sure about your comment on ‘passing’ I have obvious breasts and the bulge was less obvious, so they had no trouble recognizing my female biology. No, it’s not a medical prosthetic, nor is it an illegal device or something listed by TSA as being forbidden or needing special handling.

    I was in no way attempting to pull a stunt or shock anyone by soft packing through security. It’s just a normal part of my equipage. When I pulled my packy out for inspection, I held it out so they could see it clearly, then stowed it as soon as they let me. The waggling I referred to had more to do with my hands shaking and the nature of packing cock material being wobbly than me attempting to shock or sexually harass the agents. Again, and I reiterate, I was not attempting to shock or harass anyone, so please check that assumption at the door. I believe I reacted as calmly and respectfully as I could given the adrenaline in my system and I never once raised my voice, or cursed (except for the word ‘cock’). I said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ throughout the procedure.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful comments

  24. GrrlTragic says:

    For what its worth–whatever some of the commentators here think–I am proud of you for standing by your principles. Its a matter of your identity, it is who you are.

    I’ll confess to you now–obviously I don’t truly know how you felt (I’m cis female and identify as such) other that trying to imagine based on your voice here–but I have weight fluctuations, massive ones, usually weight loss to the point of appearing wraithlike. From one day to the next my clothes don’t even fit and I get insecure. Seriously insecure. I have silicon bra pieces, cookies I think they’re called? I wear them in public almost every day, its not so much vanity but they’ve become a piece of who I am, at least until I beat this disease, and I’d be fucking mortified if I had to pull them out and drop them on a counter for the world to see, to be in your shoes, I cannot imagine.

    Showing my various bits to my friends and lovers, that is one thing but were I ever forced to bare all for complete strangers? I cannot even begin to imagine how I would feel during and afterwards.

    Own your penis babe, own it and stand fucking tall.

  25. TT says:

    Thanks for filling in. I was of course reading into how it was written, and certainly words like “brandished” were implying things to me you may not have meant.

    The part about passing was more about how other FTMs and TS men deal with this matter, since this conversation has opened up and has been linked to and with other incidents and queries about how guys manage going through the scanners. If I went through the scanner and saw women coming to search me, versus men (as I would expect), that would give me the clue that I have to get ahead of the disclosure issue as far as informing them.

    I think this whole technological intrusion will get worse before it gets better, since the scanners are starting to be installed in public buildings like court houses. Anyway – whether Seattle or San Francisco, you’d think they’d have a clue or get special training or something.

  26. .heather. says:

    I LOVE THIS. I mean, not what happened to you, that was awful – understandable, unfortunately, but awful – but your response. Bravo. Really.

  27. hundun says:

    Thank you for writing this. Trans-spectrum folk should not feel any duty to be “extra cautious” or in any way give into bullshit paranoid security theatre designed under the assumption that everyone either is normative or should be harassed until we conform – especially because, as demonstrated in your link, we’re going to get singled out no matter what we do.

    I wonder how it is that someone looking through the scanner tells the difference between a prosthetic or packing cock and a bio-orthodox one. And are there any packers that look the same? Not that it matters much if one’s ID says “F” – or can the person in the scanner room see your ID?

    I don’t pack, but I am very tempted to find things to stuff in my crotch, just to make them check my pants. Apples maybe.

  28. Super_Bre says:

    Bravo to you! Mucho Kudos for your patience under pressure!

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  30. If you had male ID and therefor wearing a prosthetic instead of looking like a dyke wearing explosives in your pants then this would not have happened. You created your own issue and now being a whiner about it, along with feeding the hysteria that some how all this security is to embarrass and harass Trans people.

    The scanner officer cannot see your ID but the gate officers can. So when the signal comes it is the gate officers who make the call on what to do. If you had male ID and were looking male then male TSA would have talked to you and so on. Considering how freaking easy it is for transitioning people to get state issued Federally compliant ID in target gender its your own hubris and idiocy in motion here.

  31. Kyle says:

    Oh I see.. it’s only ok to wear a prosthetic if I’m willing to go all the way and claim only my male identity? I reject that narrow view that I must choose between the two genders in order to fit in and make everyone around me comfortable. I’m not a trans person, but there’s a lot in your comment that shows you haven’t actually taken a lot of time to read my post, follow-up comments or blog to find out who I am. I’m glad it’s easier and easier for trans people to get official identification that corresponds to their true genders, unfortunately, they don’t have one for mine yet.

    I do not see this post as feeding hysteria. I was telling the story of what happened to me as a way of getting first hand information out there. We all have the right to choose how we present ourselves. I wasn’t doing anything illegal, nor was it against any written and published guideline about dealing with airport security. I’m not going to cower in a corner or stop living my life my way just because I might get some extra attention at the airport. I’m also not going to conform to what you or others might think my proper behavior should be.

  32. pixie says:

    wow that is just unfreakingbelieveable!!

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  34. unique_stephen says:

    Saying ““Look, it’s a silicone penis, in my briefs. Do you need me to take it out and show you?”” is awesome. pure win. Good on you.

  35. I really have to wonder why you thought it would be appropriate to pack if you knew you were traveling through airport security. Having a large, inanimate object shoved into your briefs is wildly irresponsible – especially just weeks after some other schmuck tried exactly the same thing (except he was packing explosives, rather than silicone.)

    I totally support your right to pack, but there is a TIME and a PLACE and airport security is NOT IT. I really don’t think you have any right to feel indignant about airport security in this instance. In fact, I’m pretty pissed at you because you’re creating delays, stress and drama where none is required.

    This has nothing to do with your gender or trans identity, and everything to do with acting selfishly and irresponsibly.

    My wife takes her nipple piercings out and I yank off my cowboy boots – both forms of self expression – when we pass through airport security so we do it QUICKLY and EASILY.

    Airport security staff have an immense capacity to be assholes – believe me, I know better than anybody – but ultimately they’re doing a VITAL job to keep us all safe. It’s idiots like you which explain why they have to be so cautious and humorless about it. Shame on you, and shame on you for whining about it. You’re doing the trans community NO favors.

    I respect your right to be judgmental and offended but I take exception to you accusing me of selfishness and irresponsibility. Honestly, I’ve been packing long enough that I mostly don’t think of it as a foreign object stuffed into my briefs, I think of it as part of me. So you can choose to be judgmental about what I did and go about your business. Next time I fly, I will pack and I will be prepared for the delay.

  36. Roxy says:

    I have to object to the belief, held by too many people, that personal choices should dictate public policy. The fact that one person is willing to do something (take off boots, pull out jewelry, go to church, accept torture as a reasonable response to fear) doesn’t have any bearing on what anyone else is willing to do. The fact that you made the choice to do it might, in fact, suggest that it comes at a lower cost to you. Rather than getting angry that everyone isn’t just like you, why not spend a little time practicing sympathy?

    I’m saddened that so many choose anger instead of understanding. It’s true, freedom of speech allows us all to stay in our little bubbles of resentment rather than reaching out to each other to find a better solution. If delays in the security line make you this angry, perhaps there’s a policy change you could suggest.

    Ultimately, though, all of this has got you angrily pointing your finger at someone who wasn’t carrying a bomb, and had no ill intentions at all. A country divided by fear and hatred is truly a country defeated.

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  38. Epiphora says:

    I’ve been trying to think of something better to say, but all I can muster is: you’re in the right. You are entitled to your autonomy. It is the airport security that should be educated on this.

  39. darlingallover says:

    Kyle,
    I just read your article today and wanted to add my comment before leaving your site.
    Your airport experience was well written, honestly communicated and described with class. You merely presented the facts from you perspective with as much objectivity as possible.
    The manner in which the presence of your ‘pack’ was dealt with; makes me feel embarrassed and sad for you and all your travelling ‘brothers.’ Then, to let you stand around waiting and wondering – are we done here? Insensitivity to the max.
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope that your words fly far beyond ‘airport protocol’ and land in the hearts of security staff.

  40. Pingback: Butchtastic » Blog Archive » Airport Security and Gender Deviance.. different people, different approaches

  41. Justa Notha says:

    I know I’m coming in reeaally late, but silicone cocks are not the only thing the TSA can’t handle…I had to fly out of Boston shortly after 9/11 with my 1 1/2 year old son and my cat.

    When I accidentally set off the alarm (change in my pocket) the agents flipped out and brought me to one side to be searched.

    “Mamme, could you please put your cat somewhere else?” asked one agent in distress.
    “Mamme, could you please put your kid somewhere else?” asked another.

    Perhaps I should have left both at home as a courtesy to them…

    I agree that there is a definite disconnect. I understand that the rules must be followed and respected, but there doesn’t always seem to be much common sense in how the agents deal with them. Asking to have you put your dependents elsewhere is asinine at the very least, and puts them at risk. No one should be asked to put their children or pets at risk. That’s just stupid and opens them up to all kinds of legal problems. I’ve seen a lot of videos and blog posts about the stupidity of TSA agents across the country, not all of them, but the smart, courteous ones aren’t making the news. Traveler beware… K

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  45. Derek says:

    I actually came across this post by accident… I was paranoid because I heard a girl had to remove her nipple rings with pliers and was scared about flying with my penis being pierced… all i can say is wow. Thats freaking terrible im straight non transgender but dont see anything wrong with you. Those rent a cops are cruel and feel like they need to change people because of how they look dress orientation and overall need to listen to the crap they preach.. Much respect for you my friend especially for keeping your cool. I would have asked if they wanted to rub on it as well haha. Im losing hope for “protecting our travelers” that’s humiliating not protecting. Stay strong and be who you are. Don’t let anyone take that away. Wear your cock loud and proud!

  46. Kristian says:

    I am traveling to Puerto Rico next week with my wife and 2 young daughters. I am really nervous about the TSA at the airport. I haven’t flown in 8 or 9 years. I am concerned about what to do with my prosthetic penis. What is your advice? Thanks!

    Well, honestly, a lot depends on the airports you’re going through and the individual agents you deal with. And I think another factor is what gender marker your identification has on it. If your ID says ‘male’ you may not have to do anything but follow the rules as marked. If it says ‘female’ that may cause the agents to give you more attention. But I’ve had it both ways at this point. I’ve been scanned and waved through with no issue, and scanned and pulled aside for way more attention than I wanted. I would take a look at the current TSA guidelines for trans travelers, if I recall correctly, they came out with a pretty supportive statement not too long ago. If you want to be super proactive, you might contact the airport security folks ahead of time, email should work, and explain your situation. I had a pretty good experience with the head of security at San Francisco International that way. The key thing to me is to figure out the method that’s least likely to cause problems (if you want to avoid problems and it seems like you do). And like I said, there is no ‘one way works everywhere’ solution, unfortunately. Good luck! — K p.s., I’ve looked up a few resources for transgender travelers and I’ll post them separately)

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