Let me add my recent experience, and give you a few hardy laughs, to the online conversation about flying, the TSA and being Butch.
Of course as you all know I am very Butch and present as very masculine. I get mistaken for a guy all the time, called “sir” and often the offender never comes to the realization that I am actually female – which I could care less about anyway. I get a chuckle out of people who take it upon themselves to be the “gender police” in restrooms and dressing rooms. (ask my friend Jake, I had to verbally out her “gender policewoman” in the restroom at the dog show…then guess who was embarrassed?” hahaha)
So recently I visited Florida and of course the most convenient, prompt and economical route was to fly on my favorite airline – JetBlue. Yes, I am going to name names here! Of course JetBlue is awesome in my book, and they treated me just fine. But TSA is not run by the airlines, but by Homeland Security and the airports with which they are aligned. So let me be clear there is no qualms with the airline itself.
I packed my suitcase to visit my lady friend in Florida. Now, as a packing Butch I knew that I would have issues before I even got into the security line. So I decided not to pack physically, but to pack my “equipment” in my carry on suitcase, knowing it would go through an x-ray machine and hoping like hell it would cause no problems.
As I got into the security line I made sure everything was kosher. That my pockets were empty, my jacket was off, work boots in the tray, everything laid out, suitcase on the conveyor belt and only my boarding pass in hand. I think I was sweating just out of discomfort of being in such a public place and already having been called “sir” by the shuttle bus driver while retrieving my belongings from the bus when I got to the airport.
Through the x-ray my stuff went…I cringed as the TSA agent stopped the machine and pointed out the distinct outline of my cocks in the carry on suitcase. Discomfort and embarrassment were horrible. I couldn’t believe he actually pointed it out to the other agents and laughed! Then I was asked to step into the machine…obligiatory hands above the head, I could see the agent trying to figure out which button to push…so I puffed out my un-bound chest a little and obviously he pushed the “female” button. The other agent says “step out sir” – but get this she was most likely, from what I sensed family! But I think she thought she was in the right, and that she assumed I was FtM and in transition, so I held no animosity about that particular one. She made eye contact and nodded. She was cool.
Going through the stress and discomfort of airport security is just part of flying the friendly skies these days. We all want to be safe. But the gender policing and off-handed comments and glares are just uncalled for. I wish and hope that the TSA does MORE educating of its agents and gets things a bit more comfortable. What if I had chosen to pack that day? That would be my prerogative, and I should not be shamed for it publically. What if I had had chest reduction or reconstruction surgery? How to my trans friends deal with the TSA bullshit scans? I can only imagine it’s maddening to them, especially if their IDs do not have their correct gender marker yet.
All of the scanning and dog sniffing and stuff is necessary for prevention of violence in the skies and a repeat of 9/11 I know and accept that fully. I don’t mind going through a security check, but if you don’t know my gender then it’s none of your business in my opinion. WHY would it be? What reason does TSA have to fuck with people who are androgynous; is it out of personal curiosity or what? Because I see no reason safety wise to give people hassles over their gender specific or chosen parts, body shape or any of it.
On the way home I pretty much ignored the x-ray, assumed they’d get their laugh and stepped into the machine. Then I hear “male or female?”….what the fuck. I wanted to say “Female body, male brain”. Then after the x-ray machine I got pulled aside and I got the pat down. They paid particular attention to my chest and back…checking for the obligatory sports bra perhaps? (because again I forwent the binder).
So I made it back to Logan Airport, Boston and then home to Maine. All in one piece, but a bit disgruntled with my treatment at security checkpoints at both Logan and Tampa airports. I have a new respect for what my trans friends have to go through, and am wiser to what I will most likely have to go through again and again until TSA becomes less stringent about knowing my gender and more focused on real threats to our security, because my dick is no threat, believe me!
I am imagining how brave it would be to bind and pack and try to get through security…maybe next time! J