Transgender and Airport Security


Amanda ManickasA recent Gender and Politics class with Professor Sandra McEvoy offered an intense discussion about a topic that most people do not think about: Transgender and Airport Security. Most of you probably are wondering what the correlation is between these vastly different topics. I must say, I felt the same exact way when I was reviewing my syllabus for class and logging onto Moodle to see what the assigned readings were for the week. I couldn’t help but think to myself, what is the relationship between the two? When I have been to an airport have I witnessed something but didn’t pick up on it? After reading the article by Sjoberg, I was intrigued to find out that there is a direct parallel between the two.

From the second I started to read, “Why Men and Women are not Enough” by Laura Sjoberg, I was instantly enlightened by the information she gave us. She gives us an example of when the she was in an airport and the paperwork given to security along with the identification with a person did not match up. The immediate reaction of the guard was that the person standing before him/her was gay because the woman was wearing a skirt. The agent identified the woman as a “mismatch” even though the scared and clearly exhausted woman was trying to explain her transition. After tirelessly attempting to explain the situation, the woman was put as a behavior flag in the airport.

Another example from Sjoberg’s article was about a trans- man who went through airport security. He was forced to take off his prosthetic sex organ, allowing the whole airport to see something that was so important to him. He stood and watched total strangers handle his very own organ and investigate it, like he was trying to bring an illegal object/substance onto the plane. This man had to be humiliated in front of people who did not understand what this prosthetic sex organ meant to him. The meaning behind why he is transgender. The battles he had to go through in order to finally be happy with himself.

I do not know if it is just me, but I would never even have thought about the experiences that trans genders encounter when they enter an airport. Do you have an opinion on the situation? Why do you think there is little knowledge of the lives of transgender men and women? Gender and Politics will investigate the subject deeper and you will get to have intense discussion with your classmates!

Amanda Manickas is a Developmental Psychology major from Lincoln, Rhode Island. Her minor is Understanding Autism and Communicative Disorders.