Folks who’ve been reading this blog for a while know my story about getting special attention from TSA due to my packy being seen — and not understood — by a full-body scanner. Â This was before the latest rash of security hysteria and increased use of those scanners in airports around the country. Â As I discussed in another post, even if the current stupidity with invasive pat-d0wns and searches settles down, gender variant folks (trans, genderqueer, etc.) will continue to deal with misunderstandings, bigotry and good-old-fashioned ignorance for some time.
In Ivan Coyote’s latest column, Flying While Butch, she tells her story of being questioned about her packy while going through airport security. Â Ivan already gets questioned about her apparent gender not matching that on her identification. Â She worries about getting too much attention from Homeland Security and having her travel options curtailed. Â With that in mind, it’s understandable that she passes on this advice to fellow gender variant travelers:
Rule number one is pack your unattached dick or your breasts, of all sorts. And by pack I mean in your suitcase, not on your person.
If at all possible, put them in your checked bag. This does not mean that some creepy bastard isnâ€™t going to manhandle them, but it does lessen the chances that youâ€™ll be standing in front of them when it happens.
I know this is fucked up, and for many of us it can be extremely uncomfortable to appear in public missing a part of our selves, but I think for me this is safer.
I understand why Ivan gives this advice, it makes sense for her situation and might make sense for others as well. Â However, I’d like to make this pitch to my gender variant tribemates: Â don’t hide. Â If you can stand the risk of getting extra attention, if you can allow for the possibility of taking more time through security, please do so. Â Please consider being a visible reminder that everyone doesn’t fit into nice neat little boxes that are easily defined.
I’ve gone through scanners twice in the past year, wearing my packyÂ both times. Â I’m 50/50 on getting a special pat down as a result. Â The second time, I got no special attention at all. Â So yeah, it’s a gamble. Â Sometimes we get special attention, sometimes a whole lot of nothing.
Why do I want you to consider packing through security, even if it might get you challenged, harassed, searched and humiliated? Â Because the idea of hiding who I am, just to make the rest of the world comfortable, curdles my insides, and I don’t think I’m alone in that reaction. Â Sure, “me being me” is more than uncomfortable to some people — it’s threatening, it’s confusing, it doesn’t compute. Â Fuck them. Â I do not exist to make other people comfortable and secure in their little bubble of conformity.
So, yes, I’m asking you to put yourself out there and potentially get shit from a group of bullies in uniform. Â But only if you can, and if you can’t, you can’t. Â We’ve each got to make that call for yourself.
I read through the comments Ivan got on that column, most were supportive and positive but a couple were not, which reminded me of the crap I attracted when I posted my story earlier this year. Â I guess that’s the risk any of us take in telling our true stories, but I doubt that will stop Ivan, and I know it hasn’t stopped me. Â Our stories and the results of our actions will last long past our physical lives. Â Let’s make those stories something to remember, eh?
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