In January 2023, the Transport Security Administration will embark on a transformative journey with its new policy that seeks to make transgender passengers and those potentially misgendered more comfortable while undergoing airport screenings. The implementation of this $18.6 million strategy aims to reduce the number of times travelers’ “sensitive areas” are flagged as suspicious in TSA security checks – a monumental shift for an inclusive travel industry.
On March 9th, 2022, the FY2022 Omnibus Appropriations fund made a multi-million dollar investment in automated screening systems at airports throughout America. This groundbreaking motion will benefit millions of citizens across our nation as they board their next flight.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has vowed to significantly improve the screening procedure for transgender and LGBTQ travelers via their new groundbreaking investment, taking into account President Donald Trump’s creation of an Inclusion Action Committee in August 2020. Not only will this initiative advance civil rights for those who are part of the queer community when it comes to traversing through airports around America but also enhance the customer experience as a bonus.
In December 2022, the TSA will be introducing a policy change that is designed to reduce airport security lines for travelers. Under this new system, any person flagged as “suspicious” by airport screening technology will still have to go through mandatory pat-downs; however these screenings will take into consideration the individual’s gender identity. Those who are eligible can even opt-in for additional screening if needed – minimizing wait times and making air travel easier than ever!
Taylor Small, the very first transgender legislator in Vermont and a proud transgender woman (pictured above), often faces discrimination while traveling as she is routinely flagged by TSA Security at airports.
“I went through the scanner. The alert went off that the TSA agents needed to check my groin area,” she exclaimed, fervently expressing her frustration at the constant flags she receives when traveling through Burlington International Airport. “Everyone knew. I knew exactly what was happening. The TSA agents knew what was happening at that moment, and yet they felt the necessity to go through that protocol nonetheless. It really is an uncomfortable process. I felt very lucky that at the time, there were not a lot of folks traveling, that it wasn’t this public affair.”
Despite the fact that only six percent of annual grievances from LGBTQ individuals are attributed to transgender passengers, a multi-million dollar investment was made. The most recent figures indicate that approximately seven percent of Americans identify as members of the LGBTQ community.
According to Jose Bonilla, the TSA’s Executive Director for Travel Engagement, “This technology should really be gender-neutral, you know, it really should be – and we’re there. The way that we’ve operated the system is specifically based on a blue button if the individual is perceived by the officer to be male, a pink button if the individual is perceived by our officer to be female.”