“[M]y heartbeat speeds up slightly as I near the end of the [TSA] line, because I know I’m almost certainly about to be subject to an embarrassing, uncomfortable, and perhaps even humiliating search.”Sasha Costanza-Chock
We hope to open people’s eyes and provide resources to further understand the transgender experience while traveling through TSA. After building our explainer (below), we were encouraged to create a reference site containing additional information on the topic of flying as a transgender individual. Within this website, we’ve collected information on the millimeter wave scanner technology, personal experiences, stories in the media, TSA’s response, the history of action on this issue, and steps to move towards change.
For the purpose of the website, we are using GLAAD’s definition of transgender. The term transgender refers to people whose gender identity (one’s internal sense of gender) or gender expression (one’s outward expression of their gender) is different from the sex that was assigned to them at birth.
During the screening process, the TSA guidelines state that the moment you enter the millimeter wave scanning machine, the agent “presses a button designating a gender (male/female) based on how you present yourself” – that is, how they believe you present yourself.
It’s at this logical jump where uncomfortable and even terrifying situations occur for transgender people; what ends up being a minor inconvenience for some becomes a regular nightmare for others.
This multimedia experience attempts to answer the question: what happens when the reality of TSA’s regulations conflicts with how you identify?
As depicted in the image above, our explainer is comprised of three videos. To see these three videos at work, please play them (below) at the same time.
If you wish to learn more about the process for creating our explainer, please look through the powerpoint below.
Thank you to Sasha Costanza-Chock of MIT for giving us permission to use her story for this experience.
Note: This website was last updated on May 14, 2019.