TSA Body Imaging Still Puts TGs at Risk 

| Jul 25, 2011
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Washington, D.C. — On July 20, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced software updates to their body scanners that are intended to show only foreign materials or objects that may pose security risks, without revealing the contours of the traveler’s body.

While these updates have the potential to alleviate some privacy concerns, important questions remain about how this new technology will impact transgender people. Whatever the benefits of the new systems, it is clear that they may still reveal private personal items making transgender people targets for unfair scrutiny and invasive pat-downs. The changes also do nothing to curb the mistreatment and discrimination that transgender travelers already face in airport security.

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling says:

“In conversations with the TSA, NCTE has asked for clarification on how these new systems will actually work. Does the new software differentiate between foreign items and the body itself? Does it differentiate between male and female travelers? We appreciate TSA’s efforts to improve its methods, but it’s not yet clear how much this will address the problems transgender people face at airports.

While NCTE understands the need to keep travelers safe, transgender people undergo unnecessary and unfair scrutiny when traveling. Results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey released this year found that nearly a third of transgender people experienced disrespect, discrimination or assault on an airplane or with TSA Officers, many of them involving intrusive body scanners. While this is a problem for anyone, NCTE urges the TSA to train airport workers on the respectful treatment of our community.

These software updates come days after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the TSA evaded federal law when it failed to solicit public comments on the use of body scanners before they were installed in airports.”

NCTE Policy Counsel Harper Jean Tobin says:

“While the court ruling does not end the use of body scanners, we applaud the court’s recognition that the TSA gave insufficient regard to the public’s privacy concerns. The TSA should recognize that they unlawfully adopted these screening methods and should improve their transparency by providing the public with full notice and comment on current and future airport security procedures.”

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Category: Transgender Community News


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Association, Inc., the former editor of that organization's newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She wrote the Diva of Dish column for TGF in the late 1990s and was the Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She is currently the Editor of TGF. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows. In her idle hours she keeps busy producing her monthly TG parties, Angela's Laptop Lounge.

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