You’ve probably heard about the recent changes to airport security and the outcry from far and wide about privacy and health concerns around the new full body scanners. Â If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you already know about my experiences with Biometric scanners at San Francisco International Airport. Â Today has been declared National Opt-Out Day by some.
I don’t have an issue with the scanners, actually. Â I don’t fear health consequences, and I don’t feel especially invaded by that technology. Â I do believe that if you pack your briefs (as I do) or utilize other prosthetics that present gender markers that contradict your legal gender, you may get some special attention, even if you go through the scanners to avoid it. Â In January 2010, I went through the scanner and got pulled aside for a very non-invasive pat-down, eventually having to pull out my packy in order to satisfy the concerns of the TSA agents searching me. Â The next few times I traveled, I passed through a metal detector and another full body scanner, but didn’t get additional searching either time. Â With the heightened security hype and more invasive protocols we have now, however, I wonder what my next trip through security will be like. Â I still have a foreign object in my pants, if it’s tagged as suspicious by the scanner operator, I’ll get pulled aside for an enhanced pat-down. Â I’ll get a female agent, since I’m legally female. Â She’ll come across my packy in her pat-down and, no doubt, need to know what it is. Â Should I ask for privacy or let it all hang out? Â Judging by some of the stories that are coming out lately, a lot of people are being exposed in unnecessary ways. Â Breast cancer survivors asked to pull out their prosthetic breasts, Â colostomy bag wearers exposed and humiliated, it goes on and on.
It will be interesting to watch all of this, to see how loud and widespread the stink gets. Â How many airports will follow Orlando Sanford International’s lead and look into alternatives to the TSA to staff their security checkpoints? Â Which big name politicians or celebrities will step up and speak out against Homeland Security and TSA and challenge the security benefit of their current policies. Â Security theater, anyone? Â Groping people, exposing them to humiliation — this does not enhance our security.
During my encounter with the TSA in January, I felt as though I was being treated like a criminal, or at least someone without rights, based on minimal evidence of risk. Â The agents didn’t extend common courtesy and barely brought themselves to speak directly to me about the procedure they were taking me through. Â Since that time, we’ve made some strides in equality because now everyone has the opportunity to be treated like a potential threat without any real cause. Â I do think things will settle down, eventually, but I wonder if the inconveniences will remain for those of us who live outside the norm.
Links of interest:
NCLR press release New TSA Security Procedures Violate Privacy of Transgender Travelers
National Center for Transgender Equality, article for Transgender Travelers and New TSA Policies
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