Report: TSA Routinely Targets Transgender Passengers For Extra Pat-Downs, Strip Searches

Emerson Rensink | The Anti-Media

In an extensive report conducted by Al-Jazeera America last month, it was revealed that U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA) policies routinely single out transgender passengers for extra security screenings, including pat-downs and strip searches. Thumbnail credit: cygopinath.com

Al-Jazeera’s findings are based on information gathered from public records requests from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the TSA’s parent agency. Revealed were several civil rights complaints, internal memos and incidents reported involving improper conduct with transgender passengers.

Citing what the TSA calls “groin anomalies,” passengers exhibiting physical traits falling outside the realm of what they find to be normal set off security alerts when passing through full-body scanners. The scanners have only “male” and “female” scanning buttons.

According to Al-Jazeera, TSA agents lack sensitivity training on how to properly interact with transgender individuals passing through their gates. The “male or female” sensors on scanners do not account for those falling outside the either-or gender binary.

In addition to TSA scanners being fundamentally prone to trigger an alert for transgender passengers, agents have also forced individuals to remove chest binders, packers and other devices meant to treat body dysphoria for those who are transgender.

These findings are not news to the transgender community. According to a report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, a whopping 30 percent of transgender passengers have experienced disrespect, discrimination, or assault while traveling via air.

After complaints last year, TSA added a page to their website geared towards transgender passengers prepping for flight.

The National Center for Transgender Equality added a guide of their own.

It’s a mystery why TSA technology hasn’t evolved to the level of being able detect the difference between weapons and body parts.

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Emerson Rensink is an Olympia-trans*planted activist, organizer and citizen journalist. He helped organize the global March Against Monsanto in May 2013. In addition to writing for The Anti-Media, Emerson’s work can be found at Center for a Stateless Society. In his free time, Emerson likes to watch depressing documentaries and find funny, pointless things on the Internet.

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