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NCTE Offers TSA Screening Tips to Trans Travelers

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Transgender travelers are being told to be extra cautious this holiday season because of the Transportation Security Administration’s new screening procedures.

Dozens of airports are now equipped with full body scanners which show a passenger’s unclothed body. And just this past week, TSA agents started using a more ‘hands-on’ approach for pat-downs, which includes using their fingers to touch passengers’ groin area and breasts.

While the National Center for Transgender Equality says it’s working with TSA to minimize the latest privacy concerns for trans travelers, it has released a few tips to help transgender people have a safe traveling experience this season.

First–trans passengers should know they have the option to skip the full body scan and ask for a manual pat down in a public or private screening area. The pat down can also be performed by an officer of the gender matching the passenger’s presentation. And the Center says travelers have a right not to be questioned about the difference between gender on their ID and their physical appearance.

Trans travelers should also be prepared to explain wigs, apparrel, prosthetics or other items they might be carrying. And if they have prescription items, passengers should have proof of their medical necessity.

NCTE’s Policy Counsel Harper Jean Tobin says TSA needs to start taking the privacy of vulnerable travelers like trans people into account.

TOBIN: “We have no ambition of doing TSA’s job for them. But, we believe that based on the information available to the public, that it’s pretty clear that they don’t need to use these kinds of invasive technologies on a routine basis.”

Tobin says if trans travelers encounter a problem during their travels, they have the right to file a complaint about the incident. But whatever happens, they are advised to remain polite and avoid confrontation.

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