MSNBC has an article about the Transportation Security Agency’s (TSA) new program called Secure Flight. The article can be found here.
This new program requires all airline passengers to submit their full legal name, date of birth, and (of all things) gender to TSA before they are issued a boarding pass. TSA will then take this information and check it against their federal No-Fly list to make sure that you, the passenger, aren’t a terrorist.
It is just a passing mention, but the author of this MSNBC article writes “(I wonder what transgender travelers will be asked to do.)” This particularly piqued my interest because this issue is exactly the issue that I have been working on for the last week. What does TSA expect transgender travelers to do? If the passenger has an old gender marker on their documentation, are they going to be stopped? If a passenger has different gender markers on various forms of identification, will they face trouble at security checkpoints?
I’ve been talking to some TSA officials about this for the last week or so. Apparently the answer is no; transgender travelers should face no new travel barriers as a result of Secure Flight. Security protocols do not change, and it seems that neither TSA nor airline personnel are even expected to verify that the date of birth and gender you submit when booking flights is consistent with what your identification says. Why, then, do they make us provide this information?
I’m not convinced that this process will move forward without flaws, and I’m not convinced that gender is even necessary to maintaining security on our flights. I’m going to keep working on this and update you when I have better answers. I just thought this was an interesting mention of an issue that we’re working on, so I wanted to share with you all. Keep your eye out on our website for resources on how TSA’s new flight security procedures affect transgender people and how to avoid delays at the airport.