News & Politics

Transgender Female Complains TSA Scanners Set Off Alarms for the 'Anomaly Between My Legs'

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

A transgender female’s video rant about the “transphobic” Transportation Security Administration went viral after the individual complained that the airport scanning devices triggered an alarm for the “anomaly between my legs.”

It’s true. The imaging technology scans all passengers and looks for “anomalies” based on the sex of the passenger that the TSA screener is presented with. Is a machine “transphobic” for doing what it was designed to do?

I’ve heard the male penis described many different ways — some flattering, some not — but I’ve never heard it referred to as “an anomaly.”

But why is the TSA “transphobic”? The woman, a model and content creator named Rosalynne Montoya, is apparently unaware of the imaging technology used by the agency.

You will be screened by walk-through metal detectors or advanced imaging technology.

Advanced imaging technology uses automated target recognition software that eliminates passenger-specific images and instead auto-detects potential threats by indicating their location on a generic outline of a person. The generic outline is identical for all passengers.

AIT Screening Process: When you enter the imaging portal, the TSA officer presses a button designating a gender (male/female) based on how you present yourself. The machine has software that looks at the anatomy of men and women differently. The equipment conducts a scan and indicates areas on the body warranting further inspection if necessary. If there is an alarm, TSA officers are trained to clear the alarm, not the individual. Additional screening is conducted to determine whether a prohibited item is present.

Montoya could have requested a pat-down instead of a scan. The fact that she didn’t suggest that she wanted to make a point about how terribly unfair it is for a woman to have an “anomaly between her legs.”

“Can we talk about how horrible it is to travel while being transgender sometimes? I always have immense anxiety leading up to going through security. And this means that I totally recognize the privilege of having all of my documents correct. So, the gender marker on my license, for example, says female,” Montoya said in the video.

That means that the TSA employee pressed the correct button that set up the machine to scan a female, right? Not exactly.

“The scanners at TSA checkpoints are made with only two settings, forcing the TSA agents to make a split-second decision on whether to scan travelers as male or female,” Montoya added, according to Buzzfeed, adding, “Afterwards, I took a deep breath, grabbed my things and bought myself a cookie butter latte and a snack. I felt dysphoric and disrespected, but remembered how much worse this experience used to be. I FaceTimed my boyfriend, who listened to my story and calmed me down.”

The solution?

“I am not a second-class citizen,” Montoya told Buzzfeed. “I’m deserving of the same rights and the same respect as cisgender people. The TSA security machines should account for trans and non-binary people.”

She certainly is deserving of the same rights as anyone else, but respect is earned, not given. And I can’t respect someone who actually thinks they should make scanners that can read someone’s mind to determine their gender. How else can you prevent “misgendering”?

“And the agents should understand that misgendering me and outing me as a trans person in public could be potentially dangerous,” Montoya continued. “Trans people are attacked at alarming rates when we are outed — especially Black trans women.”

TSA procedures are plainly and clearly written. She knew exactly what to expect walking into the scanning machine. I can’t see any reason for this rant except to draw attention to a political issue. Instead of the grievously injured passenger mistreated by the “transphobic” TSA, we have a political activist looking for attention.

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