Most people would agree that flying is one of the easiest ways to travel. There may be some issues that we face at the airport or perhaps in the air, but it tends to be quick and easy for the most part.
Every once in a while, however, we hear about an incident that really makes us wonder exactly how difficult it can be for some people. That is what happened when a mother from North Carolina experienced an issue with her child in 2019.
The child was traumatized as a result of what happened at a security checkpoint so the mother is now suing the Transportation Security Administration. She is claiming that her daughter’s genitals were inappropriately checked as they were going through security.
It took place at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport when Kimberly and Jamii Erway were passing through. Jamii, who refers to herself as she/her was 15 when it happened.
The issue occurred when the TSA was checking them and as they did so, they reportedly ‘detected an anomaly’ around the area of Jamii’s genitals. Since the teenager identified as a woman, they saw the anomaly as a security threat.
When you stop to think about it, it does make sense that the TSA has safety as a priority but it was still something that made the teenager feel uncomfortable.
The TSA wouldn’t let a 15-year-old trans girl fly unless she would let an adult agent inspect her genitals. Her mother is suing to prevent this from happening to another trans kid. pic.twitter.com/UoFb96rhGh
— Ari Drennen 🏳️🌈 (@AriDrennen) August 25, 2021
The TSA actually addresses this on their website, saying: “TSA recognizes the concerns that some members of the transgender community may have with certain security screening procedures at the nation’s security checkpoints. TSA is committed to ensuring all travelers are treated with respect and courtesy. Screening is conducted without regard to a person’s race, color, sex, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability.”
The comments that came in on Twitter were rather varied. Some people were complaining and sympathetic with what happened and others were saying that the TSA was right and doing what they did.
I am thinking about filing for TSA Pre-Check just to make flights easier for myself, as a transgender individual.
On the application, they ask if I have used a Maiden Name or a Prior Name – I marked Yes.
They also ask if I have ever used an Alias… do I also mark yes? Or what?
— ♡ L A D Y ☆ C A L A M I T Y ♡ (@DemureDilligaf) August 26, 2021
The website further explains: “The machine has software that looks at the anatomy of men and women differently. The equipment conducts a scan and indicates areas on the body warranting further inspection if necessary. If there is an alarm, TSA officers are trained to clear the alarm, not the individual. Additional screening is conducted to determine whether a prohibited item is present.”
“If you cannot or choose not to be screened by advanced imaging technology or a walk-through metal detector, you will undergo a pat-down procedure instead,” the site continues. “You may also undergo a pat-down procedure if you alarm the screening equipment and/or at random. If a pat-down is performed, it will be conducted by an officer of the same gender as you present yourself. Screening can be conducted in a private screening area with a witness or companion of the traveler’s choosing.”
The only thing the TSA is good for is molesting trans people, change my mind.
— Lunæ (@LunaeLynn) June 15, 2021
The lawsuit did state why Jamii was singled out. According to Today: “The body scanner indicated an anomaly was present on Jamii’s groin area. Jamii, like all transgendered individuals, is more likely to encounter false positives (while screening) because although she appears female, she [possesses] external genitalia and thus will trigger a false-positive unless the screener presses male.”
The lawsuit states that the teenager did alert the scanner that she was transgender. They didn’t do a second scan, they called for a supervisor and this made the teenager feel violated.
The supervisor is anonymous and the lawsuit said that “she would need to accompany her to a private room, expose herself, and allow (the supervisor) to ‘feel up in there,’ i.e., touch her genitals.”
Jamii protested being searched in this way. The mother went to check on her and was told to ‘mind her own business’ which added some additional stress to the issue.
The supervisor tried to contact the police but Jamii and her mom felt that they should drive the 600 miles rather than flying.
After being brought to light, it seems as if this is a relatively frequent issue that occurs with transgender children.