During the screening process in airports, to ensure that transgender passengers and other people who could be misgendered feel more comfortable and will reduce the number of times that transgender travelers will have their “sensitive areas” flagged as being suspicious, the Transport Security Administration will spend $18.6 million under a new policy that will go into effect in January 2023.
The large sum of money was invested in the automated screening equipment put in place at airports around the United States of America. On March 9, 2022, the motion approved the multi-million dollar contribution as a component of the FY2022 Omnibus Appropriations money.
The TSA asserts that its recent investment in improved screening practices will “advance civil rights” for individuals who identify as transgender or otherwise belong to the LGBTQ community. The new investments in technology will also “improve the customer experience” for travelers who identify as transgender.
The work was initiated after former President Donald Trump created the Inclusion Action Committee in August 2020 to advance the rights of the LGBTQ community when it comes to how they are treated when traveling through America’s airports around the country.
The change will reduce the number of people who have to have a TSA pat down and will hopefully reduce the length of lines for travelers in America’s airports. As anyone who airport screening technology deems “suspicious,” Current TSA regulations, which expire in December 2022, call for airport security personnel to pat down. People who fit the criteria for the procedure will be allowed a second screening as the new policy will take the person’s gender identification into account.
Taylor Small, the first transgender lawmaker in Vermont, claims that every time she goes through TSA security at an airport, she is marked as a suspicious traveler.
Claiming that she always gets flagged when traveling from the Burlington International Airport, she said,
“I went through the scanner. The alert went off that the TSA agents needed to check my groin area.
Everyone knew. I knew exactly what was happening. The TSA agents knew what was happening at that moment, and yet they felt the necessity to go through that protocol nonetheless. It really is an uncomfortable process. I felt very lucky that at the time, there were not a lot of folks traveling, that it wasn’t this public affair.”
The most recent statistics show that approximately 7% of Americans identify as LGBTQ and despite the fact that transgender passengers account for only 6% of all LGBTQ community members’ annual complaints, a multi-million dollar expenditure was undertaken.
“This technology should really be gender-neutral, you know, it really should be – and we’re there. The way that we’ve operated the system is specifically based on a blue button if the individual is perceived by the officer to be male, a pink button if the individual is perceived by our officer to be female,” Jose Bonilla, TSA’s executive director for travel engagement, said.