Sunday, December 08, 2019

‘Tis The Season…

To travel to see family and friends and a lot of that travel takes you through the TSA checkpoints and for many trans people it creates fear and uneasiness.
The Unique Anxiety of Traveling While Transgender
Everyone hates going through airport security. But if you're trans or nonbinary, it's a completely different ballgame. Writer Kam Burns details the specific challenges you may encounter as a gender-nonconforming person — both abroad and stateside — while offering tips to ensure your vacation is the relaxing trip you deserve.
By Kam Burns
November 23, 2019

ProPublica recently reviewed all data that’s publicly available regarding complaints against the TSA and found that five percent of civil rights complaints filed with the TSA between January of 2016 and April of 2019 were from trans and gender-nonconforming individuals, despite the fact that we make up less than one percent of the population. And that was just of the people who chose to report.

The TSA body scanners that are used in standard security protocols in airports were not designed for people with bodies that aren't gender-normative. TSA agents have just a few moments to hit a blue or pink button before a person steps into the machine. If there’s a penis or breasts where the machine thinks there should not be, an alarm goes off.
The article offers some tips on going through security for trans passengers.
Things You Can Do to Prepare and Feel More At Ease
If you fly frequently, consider getting TSA PreCheck. Your line to get through security will generally be shorter, which will give you more time to deal with any issues that might come up. You’ll have an expedited screening process and the perk of not having to take your shoes off in an airport, according to the TSA website. However, it does cost $85 for a five-year membership, so if that's prohibitive for you for whatever reason, there are other things you can do to ease anxiety.
For those who choose to wear a packer, a binder, or any other restrictive or enhancing garment, know that there’s a chance it will set off the machine. If that happens, respond as directly as possible and in a straightforward way. For example, if you’re wearing a binder, pull the agent aside and say, “This is a chest binder I wear to make my chest appear smaller, because of my gender identity and presentation.” Having a prepared response in advance can alleviate anxiety, and if you can provide an answer with confidence, you may be able to avoid further questioning. If the TSA agent continues to make it difficult for you to move forward, providing concise yet honest answers will also likely give you more success in filing a complaint later.
The last tip is,
Know what to do if something does happen
If you or a friend ends up having a negative or unsafe experience, it’s important to know your rights. The National Center for Transgender Equality has a guide on who to talk to and how to file a report in the case of discrimination. There’s even an app called FlyRights that will let you file a report from your phone immediately.

The way transgender people are treated in airports is unfortunately just a symptom of a much larger problem. Unfortunately, lack of awareness around gender is a huge issue, and though it's one that extends outside of the baggage claim, TSA body scanners and airports are designed for a binary society that puts anyone outside of the norm at risk. Luckily, there are people working to make those changes on a more systemic level. But in the meantime, do what you can to take care of yourself and your friends.
I know that I avoid flying, even though I haven’t flown since 1999 I would rather take the train or drive  to my destination.

Even when they say that they are LGBTQ friendly beware!

Most of the time they only mean gays and lesbians; back in 2012 I wrote about a cruise-ship that advertised a LGBT cruise but then issued this warning…
 Arrangements have been made for drag performances in the main theater featuring stars from LOGO TV. These functions will be private and only the performers are permitted to dress in drag while in the theater. Guests are not allowed to dress in drag for the performances or in public areas at any time during the cruise.

We're sorry to say that any guest who violates our policies and/or whose behavior affects the comfort and enjoyment of other guests, will be disembarked at their own expense and no refund will be given.
You got that?

No drag! But it is a LGBTQ cruise!

And how much do you want to bet that we are included in “dress in drag?”

The travel agency then issued a statement…
Additionally, we know that transgendered members of our community will be aboard with us during this event. Please do not worry, Carnivals rule is not meant towards you. Your right to live your identity is always supported.
How comfortable would you feel on the cruise even after the letter from the travel agency?

How comfortable as an out trans person would you feel on some of the Caribbean island?
Transgender travelers face unique challenges
From TSA checkpoints to border crossings to bathrooms, travel can be, and often is, particularly fraught for the transgender community. Travel is also an area where that community is set apart from its peers in the overall LGBTQ community and where it faces unique challenges.
Travel Weekly
By Jamie Biesiada |
May 09, 2019

"Traveling while trans is very different than traveling while gay," Mara Keisling, executive director and founder of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), said during last month's International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association Annual Global Convention.
For transgender people, the top priority when traveling is safety.
About a year after transitioning, she was in the Czech Republic with a friend and her friend's 80-year-old mother driving across a border to Poland. Her friend, also a transgender woman, handed their passports to the agent. For 45 minutes or so, he and another agent kept their party waiting in the car while he held their passports inside his guard station.

"We were making plans on what to do if they were going to detain me," Keisling said. "There was no real reason for them to detain me, and we knew this was probably a trans thing."
Keisling considers herself a brave traveler, but because of the issues transgender people face, "I still worry about travel all the time, and my mother and father really, really worry about me and traveling," she said. "When you're thinking about maybe marketing to trans people, that's really important."
So beware and research you travel plans to see how accepting they are of trans peopleeven if they say that they are “LGBTQ” friendly.

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