Download: Trans Travel Tips

Airports are increasingly using full-body scanning technology to screen passengers, as a primary or secondary method of screening. These machines reveal intimate contours of travellers’ bodies.
You have the right to choose whether or not to be screened in this way. If you choose not to be screened with a full-body scan, which shows Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel an image of your unclothed body, you will patted down instead.

New, more invasive, pat-down procedures will be used for passengers who decline a full-body image scan, set off a metal detector, or are randomly selected for additional screening. They are not to be used on travellers under the age of 13.

The new procedures are much more intrusive than in the past. They involve TSA officers using their palms and fingers to touch underneath and between breasts, inside thighs, and in the groin area and buttocks. While the TSA has said these new procedures are intended to improve safety, many travellers find the techniques extremely uncomfortable and inappropriately intrusive.

Both travellers and TSA personnel have the right to be treated with dignity, discretion and respect. If you encounter any issues, politely ask to speak to a supervisor immediately. Remain polite. Do not raise your voice or threaten TSA staff; this only results in additional delays.

You have the right to choose whether a pat-down is conducted in the public screening area or in a private area, and, if in a private area, whether to be accompanied by a travel companion.

You have the right to have manual search procedures performed by an officer who is of the same gender as the gender you are currently presenting yourself as. This does not depend on the gender listed on your ID, or on any other factor. If TSA officials are unsure who should pat you down, ask to speak to a supervisor and calmly insist on the appropriate officer.

You should not be subjected to additional screening or enquiry because of any discrepancy between a gender marker on an ID and your appearance. As long as your ID has a recognizable picture of you on it, with your legal name and birth date, it should not cause any problem.

If you are carrying medically prescribed items, such as syringes for hormone injections or vaginal dilators, it is very helpful to have proof of the medical necessity of the item(s). Ask your doctor for a letter stating that he or she has prescribed the item or keep medical devices in their pharmacy packaging that includes a prescription label. Be prepared to briefly explain the purpose of the item if asked.

For more information, be sure to check out Egale Canada’s Trans Travel Tips and make sure you know your rights before you leave.