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Transgender Passenger Undergoes “Demeaning” Screening When Security Examines Prosthetic Worn in Underwear

A TSA agent dons rubber gloves at a security checkpoint at Washington Reagan National Airport in Washington, November 22, 2010. U.S. authorities will reconsider airline passenger screening procedures that have caused public uproar on the eve of the busy holiday travel season, the top transport security official said on Monday. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS TRANSPORT CRIME LAW IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Australia’s airport security is under scrutiny after a legislative inquiry revealed one transgender flyer’s demeaning experience.

Australian airport security staff forced a transgender flyer to remove a genital prosthetic and present it for inspection in a “demeaning” encounter, reported The Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday.

The incident, which occurred in 2015, was disclosed in an Australian Parliament Senate inquiry into airport and aviation security.

Australia’s National LGBTI Health Alliance (LGBTI), the country’s advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities, told government officials of “pervasive discrimination” in airport security, the Herald said.

The LGBTI used as an example a 2015 incident involving an unnamed domestic airline and a transgender person, who said in a written complaint that a body scanner detected a prosthetic worn in their underwear.

“In full view of other travelers, the supervisor approached me putting rubber gloves on … When I asked him what the gloves were for, he told me that he was going to do a ‘private search’,” said the complaint as reported by the Herald.

The flyer added that additional screening was “demeaning and unnecessary” and that they were taken to a small room and “pulled out my prosthetic enough for them to see.”

The security worker put on an additional glove and asked the flyer: “‘You want me to touch that thing with my bare hands?'”

The transgender flyer placed the prosthetic in a tray and underwent a pat-down.

“[The staff member] opened the door for me to leave [with] my prosthetic still sitting in the tray. I asked him to close the door so that I could have some privacy … He closed the door and both men stood watching me as I put it back in place.

“I suggest you look into sensitivity training and put some guidelines in place for your employees,” the flyer said.

In December, FlyerTalk published a story about traveling while transgender in the U.S., where nearly one in five transgender travelers reported having been harassed or disrespected by airport security screeners or other airport workers, according to National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

[Photo: Jason Reed / Reuters]

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10 Comments
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ccDiane January 14, 2016

I don't see any reason for this. If the prosthetic is not metal, the scanner shouldn't pick it up, and the employees had no reason to "investigate". Would they insist a woman pull out a phallic-shaped object in her carry-on? No. Transgender individuals are subjected to embarrassment and humiliation regularly. I can understand her anger at facing it again, especially in this situation.

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o mikros January 8, 2016

@Himeno: Perhaps s/he was flying domestic connecting to an int'l flight? I dunno. Many inconsistencies overall with the report. The best part is how they quote, 'The security worker put on an additional glove and asked the flyer: “‘You want me to touch that thing with my bare hands?'” ' -- making it sound like the airport employee was hostile. Then, when you read the initial report, it turns out that the *passenger* was hostile, challenging and questioning the airport worker when the latter started putting on gloves.

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bobert24 January 8, 2016

I think we're all in agreement here. This isn't news. Save the front page for newsworthy items.

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WebTraveler January 8, 2016

What does this person expect? I mean, seriously.

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Himeno January 8, 2016

I'm confused how "body scanner" factors into this. Body scanners are not used for domestic flights in Australia.