Being trans in the TSA’s world

16Nov10

As you may know, at an increasing number of airports, the TSA will take naked pictures of you before you’re allowed to fly on a commercial plane. If you refuse, they will molest you. And if you turn around and try to leave without flying, you will be investigated and threatened with a lawsuit.

This is obviously a violative experience for just about everyone. But it is particularly troubling to those of us whose genitals are likely to be seen by transportation officials as incorrect, deceitful, or dangerous. Commenter GallingGalla at Sungold’s blog articulates some of the concern and fear I felt when I heard this story:

Apparently, TSA considers us to be terrorists simply by our existence, as they have issued directives indicating that people dressing in what they, the TSA, perceives to be the “wrong” clothing are more likely to be terrorists. I guess, since they think that trans women are “really men”, we must be hiding bad things in our lady clothes.

Along with that, I shudder to think about the harassment and sexual assault that is *sure* to follow the discovery of “non-standard” genitals.

It is because of back-scatter machines and pat-downs that I do not fly. I don’t have the privilege to “opt-out”; I simply *cannot* fly, as my very person will be in danger.

In the near future, I hope, I will be read as female. But I can’t afford to do anything to my genitals, nor do I want to. And whether or not I move to go to grad school in the Midwest, I’ll likely be moving somewhere, if only to flee my state’s retrograde laws and lack of community. When I do so, what will happen? Will I be unable to visit my family? If I try, will I be able to endure it?

Not for nothing are many of the TSA’s scanners manufactured by Rapiscan Systems. For all their faults, they couldn’t have picked a more informative name.

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