A trans woman said she was stopped by airport security after scanners flagged her body parts as 'an anomaly'

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A trans woman said she was stopped by airport security after scanners flagged her body parts as 'an anomaly'
Rosalynne Montoya/TikTok
  • Rosalynne Montoya, a trans model and activist, shared her negative airport experience on TikTok.
  • Montoya said bad experiences at airport security are unfortunately common for trans people.
  • The airport security scanners do not account for trans bodies.

Rosalynne Montoya, a transgender Latinx model and activist, shared her uncomfortable experience going through airport security with her 481,000 TikTok followers on March 20.

Montoya, who uses she and they pronouns, said she normally has immense anxiety going through the security line. While her gender markers on her I.D. cards are correct, she usually sets off the scanner because of her body.

@rosalynnemontoya

We need to change how the scanners function and educate TSA about trans people. ##tsa ##trans ##transgender ##transphobia ##transphobic ##travel

♬ original sound - Rose Montoya

"Going through the scanner, there's a male scanner and a female scanner in the TSA checkpoint - and, looking at me, you know, I look like a woman and I am a woman," Montoya said in the TikTok.

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"But, going through the scanner, I always have an 'anomaly' between my legs that sets off the alarm."

Montoya told her followers the TSA agent scanned her again to no avail. After the second time, she told the agent she was trans and the agent used the "male" body scanner, which still went off because Montoya has breasts.

"Then she was like, 'OK, well we have to pat you down. Do you want a man to do it?' I said, 'No! Absolutely not," Montoya said.

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Gendered body scans do not account for trans bodies

Unfortunately, the experience is common for many trans people, as the body scanners used for security do not account for people with different genitalia like trans and intersex individuals. For example, a person with a penis and breasts will set off the scanner because breasts are not considered in the male scanner and a penis is not considered in the female scanner.

This can cause distress, anxiety, and unnecessary pat downs for many transgender people, making the security checkpoint experience more stressful.

"For many transgender, non-binary and gender-nonconforming people, going through airport security is a grueling and often humiliating and traumatizing ordeal," Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told CNN.

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In a follow-up video discussing how TSA can do better, Montoya said the problem is systemic transphobia built into the TSA security system.

"There is transphobia rooted into every system of power in this nation," Montoya told her followers. "The root solution is believing transgender people when they tell you who they are."

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