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Trans Travel: Knowing Your Rights Through TSA

by Angelique Platas

Jul 14, 2020

Photo: Arinahabich08 | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Feeling safe and comfortable every day, even while traveling, should be a basic human right. For many, traveling through airport security can feel invasive, especially for members of LGBTQ+ and Transgender communities. For an added level of security and privacy, Transgender travelers can use these helpful resources to know their rights, protect themselves and travel with confidence.


Here are a few tips for future travel:



Like any traveler passing through airport security, be sure to pack according to TSA rules and regulations, and organize your personal belongings by carry-on and checked luggage. Keep in mind, carry-ons are subject to TSA search, so any personal items you’d prefer to not have examined on a conveyor belt should be packed in checked luggage.


Personal Identification

All passengers (18 and older) are required to provide identification upon booking and at security checkpoints. To streamline the process, the name and birthdate listed on the travel reservation should match the government-issued photo ID provided at the airport. According to Trans equality resources, a traveler’s gender presentation doesn’t necessarily have to match the gender marker on their ID, and TSA officers have no reason to comment on this.


Body Scanners and Pat-Downs

Body scanners determine if anything dangerous, illegal or threatening is under clothing, and only produce a generic outline of the body. The footage is searched by Advanced Imaging Technology and not the human eye, so travelers have a sense of privacy here. If for any reason a traveler opts out of AIT screening, they will be subject to pat-downs. A pat-down will be conducted by a TSA agent of the same government-issued ID gender association. Again, there should be no reason for comment by TSA during the search and travelers are well within their rights to request a private screening.


Communicating with TSA Officers

Dealing with personal safety, privacy and general comfort levels, all travelers maintain the right to express concerns and issues with TSA officers — there’s a polite way of doing it. Often during travel, especially through TSA, tensions can be high as there’s a sense of hustle from a growing line. Don’t worry, remain calm and assert yourself in a respectful manner. Remember you can ask questions and request discretion, if desired. The main take away is to remain as calm and level-headed as possible.


Know Your Destination

One essential tip for any traveler is knowing the destination they are visiting. Anyone concerned with international or less-traveled destinations should check online for some background on the area. Know your rights anywhere you go, and remember, everyone deserves dignity and respect through airport security.


For additional Transgender resources, follow the link here.


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