With many people traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, the National Center for Transgender Equality has released a new list of tips to help those who are transgender or gender non-conforming avoid mistreatment or humiliation while processing through airport security. Here is a reminder of the rights that all passengers have while being screened by the TSA:
- You can opt out of body scanning machines at any time. However, travelers who opt-out of body scanning machines will be required to undergo a thorough pat-down.
- Transgender travelers have a right to a pat-down by an agent of the same gender as the traveler. This is based on your gender presentation. The gender on your identification documents and boarding passes should not matter for pat-downs.
- Travelers have a right to request that a pat-down be held in a private screening area, and with a witness or companion of the traveler’s choosing.
- You should not any time be subjected to personal questions about your gender, or be forced to lift, remove or raise an article of clothing to reveal a prosthetic item. Prosthetic items include binding garments and breast forms.
- All children under age thirteen have a right to modified screening procedures.
NCTE recommends the following tips for travelers:
- Ensuring that the name and gender on your ticket reservation match the government-issued ID you bring to the airport with you. The gender on your identification and on your ticket reservation does not need to match your current gender presentation.
- Downloading the Fly Rights iPhone and Android application before your travel, which makes it easy to report complaints directly with the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.
- For frequent travelers, exploring the TSA Pre-Check program which offers “expedited screening.”
Everybody deserves the same opportunity to travel safely to visit their family and loved ones, but not all security personnel may properly understand how best to respect transgender passengers. With patience and understanding, all travelers will arrive safely at their destinations with their dignity intact.