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Lady Luck & the TSA



I recently created a new thread, a "re-posting," if you will, of a commentary from advocate.com on air travel and being transgender. As usual, when I'm not sure what all has already been posted here, I did a search on the subject first. I knew we had a few threads on the topic...I didn't realize how many, though. And really, I think there are probably more than what I found, and there are probably a few brief discussions in threads that don't even have anything to do with air travel and the TSA.

After I posted the it occurred to me that, while I've gotten a few questionable looks from TSA agents, and even a few looks that appeared to be out-and-out disapproval or disgust, I've suffered only one pat-down. That pat-down was a result of one of those random things carried out while standing in line waiting to go through the metal detectors and having your bags run through the x-ray machines. It was shortly after "9-11" and at that time - I was dressing somewhat androgynous-leaning-toward-male, but I bent over backwards to act female. The disconnect between body and soul made any unwanted attention very uncomfortable.

Prior to more and more airports rolling out the body scanners and after I dispensed with all female attire, I used to go to the airport packing - I didn't want a TSA agent pulling my packy out of my carry-on for everyone to see, and in their usual disrepectful and insensative manner, manhandle it, and pass it back and forth, and discuss it, and then question me about it. At the time, I had no reason to be concerned about my binder.

After hearing about body scanners being installed in more and more airports, I began to get concerned that if my packy was spotted in a scan, I'd get pulled outta line and questioned, and possibly even asked to show it to them. I definitely was not ready for that and began stowing Frankenstein in my checked luggage, neatly packaged and with an accompanying note asking that if he was found that he be handled with a little respect. My days of flying were dwindling - the thought of having to go through a body scanner was very distressing, and no doubt became the main reason for the anxiety attacks I would suffer the closer it came to time to fly. It got to the point that the fear of being herded through a scanner over-shadowed my great dislike for flying. Still, I had not given any thought to my binder.

Finally, I ended up making a trip with my mother. I would have driven, but the woman tricked me and I ended up having to fly. On the return trip, I found myself having to go through a body scanner for the first time - I had dodged them up to now, but my luck had finally run out. I was not a happy camper, but I felt I had no choice but to go into that damn legal Peeping Tom. I knew if I refused, I'd have my Mother on my heels demanding to know why I couldn't just do like everyone else, and telling me to stop acting silly and go on. I knew between her yammering at me, and TSA possibly dragging me out of line, it would not have been a good scene. This, I knew, would only worsen my anxiety and bring more unwanted attention. So I stepped in, and unceremoniously spread my feet and raised my hands in the air (as if I were about to get felt up by a cop, and then cuffed) so I could be scanned. Meanwhile, I'm looking the agent doing the scanning dead in the eye. What happened to the agent can't see you and you can't see the agent??

After I got home, I realized that they could have pulled me out of line if they had wanted to. Personally, I don't know why they didn't. No, I wasn't packing - Frankie was in my checked bag. But I sew two panels into my binders that enable me to have even more control over my chest (to avoid the notorious "uniboob" experienced in some binders). I'm fairly sure that these squares of material could probably be seen even if as nothing more than shadows.

So, once again, despite having finally been caught by a body scanner (sounds like a movie, eh? "Invasion of the Body Scanners"), Lady Luck was still with me. Maybe not right by my side...but she was there. Perhaps I should offer up some kinda blood sacrafice, or promise my 1st born to a monestary somewhere in the far east to guarantee she stays with me.

That is...just in case I ever have to fly again.

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I can't say I agree with body scanners or TSA pat downs, I've only been through one. What I can say is this, yes they talk about you, at that moment and maybe for that shift, possibly even after they get home. Then they forget about you and go about the next day's work.

How do I know this? Simple. I used to work in the E.R. where we would see dozens of different people a shift. Some were very unique and we'd talk about them to others. Sometimes to poke fun, other times to learn about what makes them tick, so to speak. One particular pt. was a very large transgender lady. I had the oppertunity to take care of her on a couple of occasions and was given information about her as a person. She was frequent to our Hospital and was always treated with respect.

How does this relate to the TSA? They see so many people a day, you have to be so unique before they'll remember you. Otherwise, it's only last for a day or two then you are replaced by someone else. It really is that simple. Do some take it to extremes, yes they do and they should be re-educated on how to be professional and to treat people with dignity, but remember they work for the federal government, enough said.

So don't let flying and the TSA scare you, they like that it gives them power. When I was scanned I was wearing a sports bra and my nipple rings, I got an additional pat down, then sent on my way, no big deal. Another tip, do not make eye contact, if you do, look serious, it works for me

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