Saturday, April 3, 2010

I just sent an email to the TSA. I'm a bit concerned about how this whole body scan thing is going to play out for trans folks. And of course, I'm not the only person who's concerned (excellent list of travel tips). What really bothers me is that they don't have a specific policy. How hard would that be? Then everyone could know what to expect and abide by the policy. But now, airports can be scary places for trans folk. The last time my brother flew, even with a letter from his physician, a current driver's license and his passport (all with his birth name and gender), he got pulled out of line, patted down and his bags were searched. Presumably because of his gender(s). Of course, maybe he's on a watch list for something else, he is a bit of trouble maker....but we're presuming it's the gender. If we knew it was because he'd been photographed at a protest, I think he'd feel better about the getting singled out.

So here's the letter. Please forgive me for framing being transgender as a medical issue. I don't actually think about it that way. But I'm not above framing things in terms the bureaucrat on the other end will understand. And then give us what we want.

Email sent today below - let's see if I get a response this time. It's the second or third email I've sent the TSA of
I am requesting some assistance.

With the advent of the full body scanners, flying just got more nerve wracking for transgender individuals. After reviewing the website, especially the portion of the web site that regards persons with medical issues and/or disabilities, I have even more concerns. Transgender individuals are referenced no where (that I could find) on the TSA site.

Many of my friends and relatives who are transgendered have encountered increased difficulty in flying over the past year. It is common for transgender people to have legal names and genders that do not match their appearance. Even when supplying documentation from their physician, I know of multiple people that have been treated poorly while going thru security, including being taken out of line for a full search. Trans people often also wear prosthetics (breasts or penises) which will be visible on the body scan, increasing the likelihood of a flag.

Although I know that this a small part of the population, these are people with legitimate medical issues that cause their gender to be different from the gender which they were assigned at birth. I'm curious as to why there is no set standard for how these people are to be treated and what documentation they should provide so as to ease their way thru security like any other passenger. Even people who have legally changed the gender on their IDs may still be wearing prosthetics.

I have contacted you in the past with similar questions and have never received a response.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Jacquelyn Jones

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