Monday, May 15, 2017

TSA Still Has A Problem With Trans Travelers

Those assurances ring hollow when I continue to be told disturbing reports from a diverse group of trans people about incidents ranging from snide transphobic comments by TSA agents as people are clearing security to inappropriate questioning about our transitions and genital area searches by TSA personnel who obviously don't have a clear understanding of the protocols supposedly put in place to protect the dignity and human rights of trans travelers. 
-TransGriot  March 6, 2016  

As many of you TransGriot readers know, one of my nicknames in the community is the Air Marshal because I used to work in the airline business for over a decade, and ir was also to separate me from the other Monica in the trans activist community at the time, Monica Helms.

I have an ambivalent relationship with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), because as someone who used to do the security checkpoint tests as part of my job duties on our IAH private security peeps, I learned things that had me concerned before the 9-11 terror attacks happened.

So I understand why TSA exists.  The private security companies failed on September 11, 2001 and had been having problems prior to that date, so in order to ensure uniform airport checkpoint security standards in all US airports it required the federal government to step in and do the job.

But what I have been concerned about for several years now as a frequent flyer and advocate is the ongoing pattern of TSA harassment of trans travelers that I hear about so often that one of my sarcastic comments about it is that TSA stands for Transsexuals Searched Always 

And now, with anti-trans rhetoric and bigotry being ramped up by the Republican Party for their nefarious 2018 political gains, and a Trump Administration rolling back the trans human rights protections put in place by the Obama Administration, it seems that once again the TSA transphobes are taking their cue to ruin the travel days of transpeople across the country.

Ashley Yang won a five-figure settlement with the Transportation Security Administration.
That transphobia within TSA even extends as we discovered in 2011 to its own employees as was demonstrated by Ashley Yang's terminated tenure with LAX TSA,

I'm hearing and seeing on social media increasing complaints from trans frequent travelers about harassment by TSA agents, problematic searches and disrespectful treatment   And it is not just centered at particular airports, it's happening all over the country despite TSA's claims that they have policies and training in place for trans travelers.

In the wake of the complaints the trans community lodged about air travel while trans then, on October 8, 2015 a letter signed by 32 congressmembers was sent to then TSA administrator Peter Neffenger urging him to to review the transgender travel protocols.

Photo of Huban A. Gowadia
Obviously there is some disconnect between the TSA trans traveler policies being filtered down from management to the airport level and what's actually happening at the airports, and it needs to be dealt with soon.    It doesn't help that TSA now has an acting director in Huban A. Gowadia.  Even if she's empathetic to what's going on, will she get the 'acting' part removed from her title?

Because from where we trans Americans sit, the perception increasingly backed up by our travel experiences is that the TSA still has a problem with transgender travelers and is only flapping their gums about solving it.

Image result for TSA search female
Maybe it's time that the Trans Traveler 101 training needs to be done by trans folks to your TSA agents, and it needs to be shared and backed up with terminations if necessary that the TSA will not tolerate transphobia in the ranks that metastasizes into harassment of trans air travelers.

Trans folks travel by air, we're not going away, and we deserve the same level of dignity and respect that you give the cisgender peeps transiting your security checkpoints on the way to our flights.

We get enough crap from the rest of the world.  The last thing we need is another layer of disrespect dished out by people our taxes pay their salary  when we board flights for business or pleasure. ,

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