Democrat Asks DHS Secretary About TSA Screening of ‘Transgender Persons’

Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee is a Democrat who represents the border state of Texas. (Photo by CHIP SOMODEVILLA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee is a Democrat who represents the border state of Texas. (Photo by CHIP SOMODEVILLA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

( – Of all the security threats facing the United States, here’s one straight out of  « left » field: the screening of transgenders at airport checkpoints.

It was among the concerns raised on Wednesday, when Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee — a Democrat from the border state of Texas — had her chance to question Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

« But a matter of concern has come to my attention regarding TSA, airport screening in transgender persons, » Jackson Lee said:

« Air travel is an essential means of long-distance travel, and so I want to know about any training dealing with screening issues of persons who are transgender and how the agency conducted the outreach to the transgender community. Is the practice of TSA to enter gender selection prior to passengers’ entrance screening?

« If you could answer that, I’d appreciate it. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to talking to you about the hurricane season that is coming in our region. Mr. Secretary? »

« Congresswoman, » Mayorkas responded, « we have developed advanced technology to improve and strengthen our screening at airports through TSA, and that does not require identification of one’s gender. And so that it is sensitive to gender issues. Its — its focus was on innovating and strengthening our security screening and doing so with sensitivities that you’ve identified. »

« Thank you. Thank you for your service, » Jackson Lee said. « I yield back, Mr. Chairman. »

The Transportation Security Agency devotes an entire webpage to « Transgender/ Non Binary / Gender Nonconforming Passengers. »

It reads in part:

« TSA recognizes the concerns that some members of the transgender/non binary/gender nonconforming traveling public have with screening technology and certain security screening procedures at the nation’s security checkpoints. TSA is committed to ensuring all travelers are treated with respect and dignity. Screening is conducted without regard to a person’s race, color, sex, gender, gender identity, national origin, religion, or disability. »

TSA also notes that beginning this month:

« A TSA PreCheck applicant can select the gender they would like saved in their TSA PreCheck record simply by selecting ‘M’ or ‘F’ during the enrollment / renewal process. The gender selected does not need to match the gender on supporting documentation, such as birth certificate, passport, or state-issued ID. In addition, a current TSA PreCheck member may call (855) 347-8371 weekdays, between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, to request a change of the gender selected with the TSA PreCheck Application Program. You may also submit your inquiry online.

« TSA PreCheck is also working to include an ‘X’ gender marker option on its application to ensure the TSA PreCheck program accurately reflects traveler gender and keeps pace with identity documents that offer the ‘X’ gender marker option.  TSA expects this update to be complete by the end of this year. »

TSA notes that at security checkpoints, TSA officers « will ensure the identification and boarding pass are authentic and that the name shown on each document is exactly the same. »

But TSA said it has updated its checkpoint procedures « to remove gender considerations when validating a traveler’s identification at airport security checkpoints. When travelers appear at the travel-document checker podium for identity verification, gender information is not considered. »

And when it comes to pat-downs triggered by alarms, those pat-downs are « generally conducted by an officer that is the same gender as the TSA officer’s assessment of how you present. Alternatively, you may choose to inform the officer of your gender identity and make a request that the pat-down be conducted by an officer of that gender. »

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