Transgender Woman Claims She Was Detained, Harassed By TSA Over Body ‘Anomaly’

ORLANDO (CBS Tampa) — A transgender woman says she was detained and humiliated after Transportation Safety Administration agents detected an “anomaly” on her at an Orlando airport.

Shadi Petosky says she was trying to fly out of Orlando International Airport but was stopped after going through the scanner, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Petosky took to Twitter saying the TSA agents set the scanner for a woman and the machine then flagged an anomaly, “my penis.”

Petosky says she disclosed the information immediately but that the situation escalated. She says over the course of 40 minutes, she was patted down twice by officials, had her luggage “disassembled,” and was held in an empty room with an officer guarding the door.

She says she was told by an agent to “get back in the machine as a man or it was going to be a problem” and that the harassment caused her to miss her flight.

TSA released a statement Tuesday, saying it defended the officers’ actions and that after reviewing footage “evidence shows our officers followed TSA’s strict guidelines.” Two additional TSA supervisors were also present during the incident, according to the agency.

The Los Angeles Times reports calls to the airport press office went unanswered and that the Orlando Police Department declined to comment.

A spokesperson for American Airlines told The Times that Petosky would be put on a later flight free of charge, conflicting the passenger’s account that the airport had charged her.

TSA guidelines instruct transgender travelers to “use the name and gender that appears on their government-issued ID when making flight reservations and at the security checkpoint” and that they can request a private screening if they feel uncomfortable.

The scanning devices used in airports have settings that align with gender norms. Those familiar with similar scenarios say the scanner can be set off in circumstances where a machine set for a woman detects a penis, or a machine set for a man detects breasts.

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund told The Times it has received numerous reports of mistreatment toward transgender passengers over the years.

“For transgender people, flying is fraught with difficulty, often discrimination and very often a lot of fear,” Executive Director Michael Silverman said.

Petosky conveyed on social media that she hopes her story will shed light on the treatment of transgenders, regardless how an individual may appear.


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