Suburban Butch Dad Report: Travelling While Trans, Family Edition

It’s the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday (US edition) and my family will be travelling next week.  It will mark the first time I’ve flown since February, which is weird considering how friendly the skies and I have become during the past four years.  It will be the first time I’ve flown with wife/fiance and kids in at least two years.  As long time readers know, I’ve had some interesting experiences with the TSA during my many flights between Seattle and San Francisco.  These have revolved around my use of a packy and the inexperience or intolerance of agents with regard to trans and gender non-conforming travelers.  The last few flights I’ve made have had no drama, even with the full body scans, I’ve gotten no extra attention.  This a good thing, but not a guaranteed thing.  There are still too many stories about trans people getting caught in a security machine that has little patience for non-conformity, gender markers that don’t match assumptions based on looks or long complicated stories about anything.

Travelling during the holidays is stressful, travelling with young children, even more so.  That’s why I am sitting here with a decision to make.  Will I be packing as I go through security, or not?

If I consider the way things have been going of late for me, with increased awareness and training and affirmative policies in place with the TSA, packing would be a low risk choice. Besides, I’m an activist so of course I’m gonna welcome any opportunity to open eyes and educate people about gender.

Then I think for a moment about my family, my fiance who will already be way stressed out no matter what and our three year old who can’t be left unwatched for a moment, and my eldest who will be stressed out because of both of those factors.  Though my eldest spawn would probably support me in my activism (being a budding activist herself), my fiance would not be pleased and every moment we aren’t moving toward our destination her stress and anger levels will rise and the toddler, whose behavior a good barometer of these things, will be less and less cooperative.


Since the second scenario terrifies me and would guarantee a very bad start to our family vacation, especially since the Soon-to-be Mrs. Kyle has explicitly asked me not to let my packy get in the way of a smooth airport security experience for the family, I will not be packing for that occasion.  Family harmony sometimes requires compromise.

I’ll tuck it into my backpack, wrapped in a hanky (which color??) inside a zip lock and hope the technicians watching the carry-on scanner screen won’t get curious or confused about it.  And I will look for the soonest opportunity to tuck it back into my briefs where it belongs.


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