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TSA to Implement Gender-Neutral Screening Procedures

The Transportation Security Administration will begin introducing new procedures to help transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming passengers process through security.
Transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming passengers will soon have an improved security screening process at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints nationwide.


On Transgender Day of Visibility, the agency announced a new set of improvements targeted at making screening procedures easier and more inclusive for all travelers.


New Procedures Affect Scanners, Pat Downs and TSA PreCheck

When advanced imagery technology scanners (AIT) were introduced to airports nationwide, the software was built to scan men and women. The TSA is looking to change that through securing $18.6 million to “complete the development, testing and deployment of algorithm updates to AIT units nationwide.” Not only will the new technology benefit transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming flyers, but is aimed to improve the civil rights of everyone. By moving away from gender-based screening, the TSA says they can improve the customer experience for those who previously set alarms off “in sensitive areas.” Although there is no timeline, the goal is to rollout the software update before the end of 2022.


If flyers do set off a scanner alarm, they will be subject to a “less invasive” pat down in sensitive areas. The TSA says the new procedures will be rolled out with the AIT software update and will not compromise current security standards.


Traditional gender identities will also hold less weight in the new screening process. The new standard operating procedure removes gender considerations when validating identification documents at checkpoints, while the TSA PreCheck program will soon allow a “X” gender identity for flyers. By April 2022, flyers will be allowed to select their gender based on self-attestation instead of what is published on a government-issued ID.


“Over the coming months, TSA will move swiftly to implement more secure and efficient screening processes that are gender neutral, as well as technological updates that will enhance security and make TSA PreCheck enrollment more inclusive,” TSA administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “These combined efforts will greatly enhance airport security and screening procedures for all.”


Inclusivity Becomes Priority in Air Travel

The move is the latest by air travel stakeholders to improve inclusivity efforts for everyone. Days before, Alaska Airlines announced several moves to create more comfort for employees, including introducing gender-neutral uniform items and offering pins for frontline workers to introduce their preferred pronouns.