Transgender women from Birmingham question treatment at Texas airport

Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport
A view of the new terminal at the Birmingham Airport (WIAT-CBS42 Scott Packard)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A group of transgender women from Birmingham said they felt humiliated after an experience with TSA agents in Texas over identification.

6 transgender women and 1 transgender man said they had no problem with their IDs with TSA in Birmingham, but said the trouble began at Dallas Love Field Airport.

“We was humiliated in front of hundreds of people standing in the line and the people was trying to figure out what was going on,” said Daroneshia Duncan, who is also the founder of TAKE, which stands for Transgender Advocates Knowledgeable and Empowering.

Duncan said three of the women who transitioned recently obtained temporary identification cards from the Alabama Department of Motor Vehicles.

The card is made of paper, but does contain a photograph.

According to the women, the TSA workers in Dallas refused to accept the temporary ID cards and wanted additional verification.

“This has an official state seal, it’s legal documentation of our identities, so what would be the problem?” said Karina Harris.

Harris said she was told she could re-check in using her old state ID. However, Harris said the card contained her previous male name, was hole punched at the DMV, and no longer valid.

“I kind of felt hurt, because with me getting my name changed, I actually felt liberated by that, so when the security guy did that, it kind of felt like I went 10 steps back,” Harris said.

The women said they felt harassed and question why the paper ID cards worked in Birmingham, but not Dallas.

One woman in the group said she had to verify her identity by showing a prescription pill bottle.

Because of the holdups, the women said they missed their flight. They understand the importance of identity verification for security, but felt they were singled out.

“Value the trans identity as any other human being, because trans rights is no different than human rights,” said Duncan.

A TSA spokesperson said it was an identity verification issue, and not a transgender issue. The spokesperson said questions arose after one of the passengers had her paper identification stuck to her purse and was unable to remove it for security.

TSA released the following statement:

“The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is committed to providing a security screening experience to the transgender community that is respectful, sensitive and courteous. TSA is committed to screening passengers as the gender expression an individual presents at the checkpoint.

For all passengers, the name on the boarding pass must match the name on the identification for security reasons. In this case, at least one member of the traveling party was not able to produce an ID that matched the name on the boarding pass, and was referred back to the airline ticket counter for a new boarding pass. Working with the airline, the group left DAL to fly out of DFW. The ID issue was resolved, and the group was able to transit the checkpoint and board a flight from DFW.

While TSA continues to push for technological improvement and sophistication, we recognize that current binary screening technology can impose burdens on transgender travelers. We are committed to continued collaboration with the transgender community and advocacy organizations to provide appropriate and effective security screening that is sensitive to the needs of transgender travelers. TSA notes that transgender passengers may choose to receive a pat-down to screen for explosives and other prohibited items in lieu of going through the imaging technology by indicating that preference before screening begins.

TSA continually works to provide clearer, more readily accessible materials relevant to the transgender community on our websitewww.tsa.gov/transgender-passengers<http://www.tsa.gov/transgender-passengers>, through TSA’s social media presence–@AskTSA and facebook.com/AskTSA<http://facebook.com/AskTSA>, and through the TSA Contact Center (TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov<mailto:TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov>). TSA has also provided links to these materials to transgender community organizations.

Transgender travelers may contact TSA Cares, a helpline that provides travelers with additional assistance during the security screening process, at (855) 787-2227<tel:(855)%20787-2227> or TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov<mailto:TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov>

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