The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently unveiled a webpage featuring information and advice for transgender travelers going through airport security. TSAs advice, while not comprehensive, covers a few important points:
- Travelers should make sure that the gender provided when they book their flight matches the gender designation on the government-issued ID they bring to the airport. TSA Travel Document Checkers will check to ensure that information on your ID matches your boarding pass, however it does not matter whether your current gender presentation matches the gender marker on your ID or your presentation in your ID photo, and TSA officers should not comment on this.
- In the event that a pat-down is required, it will only be conducted by an officer of the same gender as the traveler, based on the traveler’s gender presentation. This means that transgender women should be searched by female officers, and transgender men should be searched by male officers.
- Transgender people should never be required to lift, remove or raise an article of clothing to reveal a prosthetic item and should not be asked to remove it. This applies to items such as breast forms and packers.
- Transgender people who experience discriminatory or unprofessional conduct should request a supervisor and report it to TSA and to the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling says, “We’re thankful that the TSA is offering this kind of advice to trans travelers. It lets us know that trans people are on TSAs radar, and that they’re thinking about how to be helpful. But the TSA can strengthen their advice and do the work needed to address the full range of concerns transgender people face in airport security.”
Results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that nearly a third of transgender people experienced disrespect, discrimination or assault on an airplane or with TSOs. And for seven years, NCTE has advocated that the TSA develop procedures to avoid screening that can out transgender people and invade their privacy, as well as to provide appropriate training for Transportation Security Officers. NCTE has also urged TSA to address numerous reports of discrimination against transgender employees by adopting explicit nondiscrimination policies.
We will soon release updated resources to educate transgender people about what they should expect at airport security, and how to deal with problems at the airport.