Transgender Travelers and New TSA Policies

Everyone is talking about the new TSA policies, with the busiest travel weekend almost upon us. The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) has a great resource entitled What Travelers Need to Know. Want to know how the new TSA policies impact transgender travelers? If you are transgender, genderqueer, gender non-conforming or otherwise present your gender in ways that don’t align with the gender binary, this article covers what you need to know to travel for the holidays.

It is well worth reading in full, including the link to whole body scanning FAQ. Their list of  travel tips are worth repeating here:

Travelers should keep the following points in mind:

  • Both travelers and TSA personnel have the right to be treated with dignity, discretion and respect. If you encounter any issues, politely ask to speak to a supervisor immediately. Remain polite. Do not raise your voice or threaten TSA staff; this only results in additional delays.

  • You have the right to opt out of a full-body scan in favor of a manual patdown. It is your choice.

  • You have the right to choose whether a pat down is conducted in the public screening area or in a private area, and, if in a private area, whether to be accompanied by a travel companion.

  • You have the right to have manual search procedures performed by an officer who is of the same gender as the gender you are currently presenting yourself as. This does not depend on the gender listed on your ID, or on any other factor. If TSA officials are unsure who should pat you down, ask to speak to a supervisor and calmly insist on the appropriate officer.

  • You should not be subjected to additional screening or inquiry because of any discrepancy between a gender marker on an ID and your appearance. As long as your ID has a recognizable picture of you on it, with your legal name and birth date, it should not cause any problem.

  • Foreign objects under clothing such as binding, packing or prosthetic devices may show up as unknown or unusual images on a body scan or patdown, which may lead TSA personnel to do additional screening.  This does not mean that you cannot fly with these items, only they may lead to further screening. Be prepared to give a brief description of what they are or check them in your luggage so that you can minimize scrutiny and delays.

  • Items containing liquid, gel or powder substances will trigger additional security screenings and therefore we strongly recommend that you pack these items in your checked luggage or leave them at home.

  • Wigs or hairpieces may require additional screening if they are bulky or not form-fitting. If you have gone through a metal detector or body scanner and TSA personnel want to do additional screening of a wig or hairpiece, you may request that a patdown be limited to your hairpiece or that you be permitted to pat the area down yourself and have your hands swiped for chemical residue.

  • If you are carrying medically prescribed items, such as syringes for hormone injections or vaginal dilators, it is very helpful to have proof of the medical necessity of the item(s). Ask your doctor for a letter stating that he or she has prescribed the item or keep medical devices in their pharmacy packaging that includes a prescription label. Be prepared to briefly explain the purpose of the item if asked.

Also included are ideas for taking action to change the policies. In addition to the links I included in my previous post on this subject, you can report problems to the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. You can also visit the ACLU’s Take Action and Tell Us Your Story pages.

Remember, you have the same basic civil rights and deserve to be treated with the same respect as every other traveler!

Kathleen Young Psy.D.

This entry was posted in Gender Identity, Holidays, LGBT, Psychologist, Transgender, Transphobia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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