TSA says it treated transgender air passenger in line with its 'strict guidelines'

Shadi Petosky takes a selfie after an unfortunate encounter with the TSA
(Image credit: Twitter/‏@shadipetosky)

On Tuesday, Shadi Petosky, a transgender woman trying to catch a flight to Minneapolis, was held at the Orlando airport for 40 minutes by Transportation Security Administration officers unsure how to handle a transgender passenger. When she went through the full-body scanner, the TSA agent pushed a button to scan a female, Petosky told The New York Times, and she was flagged when the scan showed an "anomaly" in her groin area, even though she'd told the agent she is transgender.

Petosky said that after various TSA agents argued over how to deal with her, she was sent to a private screening room and told not to use her phone — a directive she ignored, recounting the whole experience in real time on Twitter:

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Even though Petosky, a writer and producer, missed her flight, TSA spokesman Mike England said the agents appeared to have followed agency protocols. "After examining closed-circuit TV video and other available information, TSA has determined that the evidence shows our officers followed TSA's strict guidelines," he told The Times. "Supervisory personnel and a passenger support specialist participated in the screening to ensure guidelines were met." Transgender advocates say that's part of the problem, and that Petosky's experience isn't unique.

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Petosky isn't thrilled with the TSA, but she's even less happy with American Airlines. The screening made her miss her flight, and American ticket agents delayed issuing her a boarding pass, she said, and at one point called the police to escort her from the airport. "The police said 'no,'" Petosky said. "The police said, 'Give her a boarding pass,' and then they did." At least some agency comes off well in the story.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.