Being of a gender-nonconforming nature has revealed certain TSA truths to me.
Yes, they do profile.
It's a white-list, unlike the police profiling that gets people into trouble. There is a 'generic safe-traveler' that they compare everyone to. If you conform, you get the minimum screening everyone gets. If you don't conform, you get some extra attention. Some ways to earn extra attention:
- Don't look like your government ID.
- Wear your hair up, or in braids (they've seen those kung-fu movies too)
- Yes, they put their gloved hands in your hair and feel round. Anyone with dreads knows this all too damn well.
- Fly with a name other than the one on your government issued ID.
- Have body-parts replaced with things, such as a prosthetic leg, or knee (if going through metal detectors).
- Have junk when there shouldn't be junk (or so they think).
- Have breasts when there shouldn't be breasts (or so they think).
- Have breast prosthesis instead of actual breasts (mastectomy patients love this).
- And many more.
Here is an exercize you can try the next time you fly in the US. When you get to the other side of the scanner (this only works for the porno-scanners, not the metal-detectors), while you are waiting for your stuff to come out of the X-ray machine, look at the back of the scanner. Watch the procedure. Maybe put your shoes on slow to catch it all. You'll notice something I've noticed:
There are always two officers back there, a man and a woman. When someone steps in to get scanned, they have to either hit a button to indicate the gender of the person being scanned, or are presented with a side-by-side with both genders and the officer has to chose which to look at. They have a second, maybe two, to figure out which body baseline to apply to you, and those of us who are genderqueer confuse things. I fail the too-much-junk test all the time and get an enhanced patdown in my inner-thighs.
Yes, but with PreCheck you can skip that.
This actually proves my point. By voluntarily submitting to enhanced screening, I can bypass the flight-day screen annoyances. It's admitting that I no longer fit the profile of 'generic safe traveler' and need to achieve 'specific safe traveler' status. That, or I can have my bits rearranged and conform that way. Whichever.