Tampa, FL -- With St. Pete Pride just around the corner, thousands of people will be flying in and out of the Bay Area, and many of them will identify as transgender.
Well, now, the TSA has released a guidance video for transgender passengers to make their way through screenings at airport security.
The minute-and-a-half video begins by saying, “For your comfort and awareness.”
That’s the TSA’s way of saying it recognizes that transgender travelers “have questions and concerns” when it comes to screening procedures.
The new video, part of the TSA Cares outreach, urges transgender passengers to do what’s possible to keep the ID process running smoothly.
“Ensure the information on your boarding pass matches your government issued ID,” says the narrator.
And before stepping into one of those full body scanners, it says, “The TSA officer will press a button designating a gender based on how you present yourself. Male or female.”
TSA came up with the video after transgender passengers like Karina Harris missed her flight over ID confusion at a TSA checkpoint.
“I kind of felt hurt, because my getting my name changed, I kind of felt liberated by that,” said Harris. “But when the security guy did that, it kind of made me feel like I went 10 steps back.”
The video also says transgender passengers who opt out of body scans will undergo a pat-down by an officer the same gender as which the passenger presents themselves.
“If, during the screening process, your prostheses alarms, you may be required to lift or raise clothing,” the video says.
We showed the video to passengers at Tampa International Airport.
Some questioned why it was necessary to begin with.
“I believe if you're gonna change your lifestyle or whatever you want, it's up to you to make the changes, you know, to go along with it,” said passenger Ron Coker.
But the majority of travelers thought the video was well done. Sensitive, while focused on safety.
“This is the time we live in now, and you've got to do the best you can to respect each other,” said passenger Gregory Mines, “And to make sure that were safe.”
“And then I think another important thing is that the TSA is educating themselves on issues that might come up,” said passenger Jennifer Lader.
Nathan Bruemmer with the group TransAction Florida thinks while the video shows progress, it also shows the TSA agent subjectively deciding the passenger’s gender.
That, and a perceived lack of uniformity when it comes to pat-down training.
“And so some may be a bit more aggressive or intrusive than others. And that creates a problem for all travelers,” said Bruemmer.
It's now estimated that nearly one and a half million people in the U.S. identify as transgender.
The TSA hopes that the more people who see the video, the faster and safer the check-in process will be for everyone.
If you'd like to see the TSA's video in its entirety, click here.