A one-act scene at airport security

(If you’re reading on a mobile device, <– swipe back and forth –> on the text below to read. I’m sorry the formatting isn’t very mobile-friendly – H.)

INTERIOR OF JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT, CALIFORNIA - DAYTIME

It is early morning, before the airport is busy. The lines at
security are not too long and moving along at a decent clip.
A family of two women, one cisgender, one transgender, and two
boys, ages 9 and 6, have just had their boarding passes checked
and are approaching the security screening line. The millimeter
wave scanner is in use.

Heather, the transgender woman is wearing a v-neck Disneyland tee
shirt, white shorts, and black sandals.

		HEATHER
		Ugh, I hate this security theater.

		BOY, 9
		I get the window seat on the way back!

		BOY, 6
		I want the window seat. (pouting) 

		CISGENDER WIFE
		You had the window seat on the way
		down, sweetie.

A female TSA agent approaches the family. The male TSA agent
that checked the boarding passes calls forward to the female
agent.

		MALE TSA AGENT
		She's pre-check!
		
		FEMALE TSA AGENT
		Pre-check?
		
		MALE TSA AGENT
		Pre-check. (nodding)
		
		FEMALE TSA AGENT
		(to the cisgender woman) Okay, after
		you get your things on the belt, come
		on over here through the metal detector.
		(points) You and your kids can leave
		your shoes on.
		
		CISGENDER WIFE
		Great! (places bags on belt) Come on
		boys, over here.
		
		HEATHER
		What about me? Do I have to take my
		shoes off?
		
		FEMALE TSA AGENT
		Are you pre-check?
		
		HEATHER
		Um, no.
		
		FEMALE TSA AGENT
		Then yes, you need to take your shoes
		off and get in line for the scanner.
		
		HEATHER
		I'd like to opt out.
		
		FEMALE TSA AGENT
		Oh, okay. Hang on a sec.
		
Heather struggles to get her laptop out and get her and a boy's
bag on the belt for the x-ray machine. She unstraps her sandals
and puts them in a bin. Her family is waved through the
metal detector.

		HEATHER
		That's my family. (pointing) Can I go
		through the metal detector, too?
		
		FEMALE TSA AGENT
		Only unless you're pre-check. I'm going
		to have to get someone to pat you down.
		(turning to the other agents near the
		scanner) I have an opt out! (turns back to
		Heather) Have you been patted down before?
		
		HEATHER
		(mildly upset from being separated from
		her family and feeling vulnerable) Yes.
		My eldest son is special needs; I need
		to go help my wife.
		
		FEMALE TSA AGENT
		(turns to agents by scanner; one says
		something inaudible) What? Oh. (turns
		back to Heather) Do you want to be
		patted down by a man or a woman?
		
Heather pauses at this question. She's not sure what to make
of being made painfully aware of being visibly trans.
		
		HEATHER
		Uh, woman.
		
		FEMALE TSA AGENT
		Okay. We'll get you taken care of right
		away. Hang on, I'll do it myself.
		(gestures) Follow me.
		
The TSA agent leads Heather past the scanner to the pat-down area.

		FEMALE TSA AGENT
		Let me get some gloves. (she retrieves
		and dons blue, nitrile gloves) You have
		the option of doing this in a private
		place; would you like that?
		
		HEATHER
		(tersely) No.
		
Heather's family get their bags and head into the terminal.

		FEMALE TSA AGENT
		Which are your bags? (she points to
		items exiting the x-ray)
		
		HEATHER
		(pointing) The blue bag, backpack,
		laptop, and sandals.
		
The TSA agent moves the items to the side and steps in front
of Heather.

		FEMALE TSA AGENT
		Okay, I'm going to move my hands over
		your body using the palms of my hands
		and the back sides of my hands for
		sensitive areas like the inner groin,
		buttocks, and bust area. Ready?
		
		HEATHER
		Ready.
		
The TSA agent frisks Heather, asking her to lift her shirt
in the front and the back as she checks inside the waistband
of her shorts.

		FEMALE TSA AGENT
		Okay, all done with that. I just
		need to test the gloves. (she strips
		off her gloves, swabs one, and places
		the swab in the mass spectrometer for
		explosives residue testing; this takes
		about 10 seconds) All clear! You're
		free to go.
		
		HEATHER
		Thanks. (she retrieves her belongings
		and walks barefoot down into the terminal
		to find her family. she sits down to put
		her sandals back on.) Do I look that
		visibly trans today?
		
		CISGENDER WIFE
		Well, yeah. You look that way all the
		time; probably more than you realize.
		
Heather frowns as she finishes putting on her sandals. She sighs
wearily as she stands, shrugs her backpack on, extends the handle
of her wheeled carry-on, and follows her family towards the gate
with her head hung low, feeling like she has a neon 'tranny'
sign floating over her head.

			THE END
			-------
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About cistotrans

A Seattle-area trans woman seeking a happy spot to stay at along the path of transition.
This entry was posted in observations, personal history, transition and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to A one-act scene at airport security

  1. abezure says:

    I wondered about air travel or building security. Sounds like a nightmare.

    Like

  2. Calie says:

    It does appear that the TSA agent treated you professionally, at least with the “patting down” part of the process.

    Nice post, Heather. A subject I don’t think I’ve seen anyone blogging about lately. Featured on T-Central.

    Calie

    Like

    • cistotrans says:

      Thanks, Callie! I’m still very mixed about the whole thing. She was courteous and professional the whole way, but I’m struggling with the fact that I thought I looked unambiguously female (or at least was putting that vibe out) so the question really threw me.

      Like

    • cistotrans says:

      And I appreciate you featuring my other, earlier posts, too—thank you!

      Like

  3. Jenna says:

    Heather,
    I really liked the way you wrote that in the form of a scene from a play. Nicely different.

    Jenna

    Like

  4. That was really well written, though also saddening. Either way, thank you for sharing.

    Like

  5. FYI, the agent should have known that pre-check covers everyone in the party. By rights you should have been able to join your wife and children in the pre-check line. I experience this as although I was registered for pre-check, my ex (who wasn’t registered) had it on her boarding pass and I didn’t. At the second layover airport, we had to change terminals and enter security for a second time, and I accompanied her in the pre-check line.
    I have a dear friend of mine that also had a bad experience at SNA, as she went through the back scatter. On telling the agent of her status, the agent acted in a less than professional manor with a disgusted smirk, and loudly publicly outed her. It seems they’ve been educating the agents, as yours was at least respectful.

    Like

    • cistotrans says:

      Hi Alana, thanks for stopping by and sharing that information. I didn’t know the whole party was covered by pre-check—that’s great to know!

      I’m sorry to hear about your friend. That sounds horrible. 😦 I hate the whole security theater thing. It doesn’t make us any safer and intrudes on our liberties in addition to the indignities it foists upon us.

      Like

  6. llcooljoe says:

    I’m a transman that rarely passes, and I’ve had so many dramas going through security at airports with binders etc. that I’ve given up. I go through as a female now, and then head to the loo to become male again afterwards. I just found it all too stressful. Glad you raised this subject.

    Like

  7. Pingback: HRT Week 74 Review | Becoming Me

  8. Pingback: Maybe I could call you Heather? | Becoming Me

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