Tis the Season of Traveling While Trans: A Few Suggestions and a Vital Resource You Print Out and Carry With You

Transsexual and transgender people are  members what of what the late supreme court justice Thurgood Marshall described as a despised and discriminated against minority.

While we should never ignore abuse by bigoted people in power there are times when we just want to see a friend or relative in a distant city.  It is exhausting to have every moment of your waking life be a struggle and just getting to a destination to be with loved ones shouldn’t be a hassle.

White TS/TG people are not alone in having to deal with this sort discrimination.  People of color deal with it every day.  As do people from the Middle East or with “foreign sounding names’.

Here’s a few tips:

Dress for comfortable travel.  Wear shoes that are easy to slip off and on.  Avoid extreme make-up or fashion statements that draw attention to you.

Pack your jewelry.  (Taking it on and off in a crowded screening line may well result in the jewelry winding up on the floor lost.)

Even if you normally carry a lot of stuff in your hand bag, don’t.  Less stuff in bag means less time in screening to be targeted.

Do not under any circumstances get high or have a couple of drinks before screening.

The TSA people are supposed to be professionals address them as sir or ma’am, with a confident smile.

Have your ID (preferably gender appropriate ID) conveniently located.  (It has been so long since any of this was a part life, I am not certain about the details of coping with not having appropriate ID or no match ID.  Check some of the trans-legal sites for advice.)

Prosthetics:  For some reason sick small minded people seem to derive pleasure abusing people who are bodily different.   Check the LGBT legal sites on this.

Last week there were two stories about a sister who was detained at the D/FW Airport, I’m posting the first report I saw on this story then the ooops report that came a couple of days later:

December 11: From planet transgender:  Tegan Smith Handcuffed Dragged Off Plane at Dallas Love Field “for being trans”

December 15: From Lexie Cannes:  Justice for trans woman’s rough airport experience becomes undone by lack of facts shared on social media

Life is too short and already too pain filled for us to do things that add more.

Have a good and safe trip as well as a happy holiday.

The TSA actually has guidelines for the rules and regulations governing your right to travel with dignity.  This is the result of work by a lot of those often maligned activists.  Use this tool

A copy can be printed out at Transportation Security Administration:  http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/transgender-travelers

Transgender Travelers

Special Considerations

TSA recognizes the concerns members of the transgender community may have with undergoing the security screening process at our Nation’s airports and is committed to conducting screening in a dignified and respectful manner. These travel tips will explain the various screening processes and technologies travelers may encounter at security checkpoints.

Preparing for Travel

Making Reservations: Secure Flight requires airlines to collect a traveler’s full name, date of birth, gender and Redress Number (if applicable) to significantly decrease the likelihood of watch list misidentification. Travelers are encouraged to use the same name, gender, and birth date when making the reservation that match the name, gender, and birth date indicated on the government-issued ID that the traveler intends to use during travel.

Packing a Carry-on: All carry-on baggage must go through the screening process. If a traveler has any medical equipment or prosthetics in a carry-on bag, the items will be allowed through the checkpoint after completing the screening process. Travelers may ask that bags be screened in private if a bag must be opened by an officer to resolve an alarm. Travelers should be aware that prosthetics worn under the clothing that alarm a walk through metal detector or appear as an anomaly during Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) screening may result in additional screening, to include a thorough pat-down. Travelers may request a private screening at any time during the security screening process.

Contacting TSA in Advance of Travel: Travelers may contact TSA prior to a flight through the TSA Contact Center at 1-866-289-9673 and TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov.

The Screening Process

Private Screening: Screening can be conducted in a private screening area with a witness or companion of the traveler’s choosing. A traveler may request private screening or to speak with a supervisor at any time during the screening process.

Travel Document Checker: The traveler will show their government-issued identification and boarding pass to an officer to ensure the identification and boarding pass are authentic and match. Transgender travelers are encouraged to book their reservations such that they match the gender and name data indicated on the government-issued ID.

Walk Through Metal Detector: Metal detectors are in use at all airports.

Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT): Screening with advanced imaging technology is voluntary and travelers may “opt out” at any time. Travelers who “opt out” of the AIT screening are required to undergo a thorough pat-down by an officer of the same gender as the traveler presents.

New Advanced Imaging Technology Software: TSA has upgraded all millimeter wave advanced imaging technology units with new software called Automated Target Recognition to further enhance privacy protections by eliminating the image of an actual traveler and replacing it with a generic outline of a person.

Pat-Down: A pat-down may be performed if there is an alarm of the metal detector, if an anomaly is detected using advanced imaging technology, if an officer determines that the traveler is wearing non-form fitting clothing, or on a random basis. If a pat-down is chosen or otherwise necessary, private screening may be requested. Pat-downs are conducted by an officer of the same gender as presented by the individual at the checkpoint.

Prosthetics: Travelers should neither be asked to nor agree to lift, remove, or raise any article of clothing to reveal a prosthetic and should not be asked to remove it.

Behavior Detection Program: Behavior Detection Officers screen travelers using non-intrusive behavior observation and analysis techniques to identify potentially high-risk passengers. Officers are designed to detect individuals exhibiting behaviors that indicate they may be a threat to aviation and/or transportation security. Individuals exhibiting specific observable behaviors may be referred for additional screening, which can include a pat-down and physical inspection of carry-on baggage.

TSA recognizes that exhibiting some of these behaviors does not automatically mean a person has terrorist or criminal intent. Referrals for additional screening are solely based on specific observed behaviors.

Reporting Travel Issues or Concerns

Travelers who believe they have experienced unprofessional conduct at a security checkpoint are encouraged to request a supervisor at the checkpoint to discuss the matter immediately or to submit a concern to TSA’s Contact Center at: TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov.

Travelers who believe they have experienced discriminatory conduct because of a protected basis may file a concern with TSA’s Office of Civil Rights & Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement at: Civil Rights for Travelers.

Travelers may also file discrimination concerns with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

The Sandy Hook Tragedy, Anti-Trans Violence and Codes of Masculinity

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/the-sandy-hook-tragedy-anti-trans-violence-and-codes-of-masculinity_b_2317794.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


Words fail. And yet words are preferable to bullets. After the intense emotional response passed, I was left with two particular thoughts. First, on the political/policy front, when will we prioritize our children over the Second Amendment? Nate Silver recently wrote that language matters; over the years, the debate has shifted from “gun control” to “gun rights” to “Second Amendment.” Such an evolution in political language mirrors the descent of gun-control advocates into a pit of despair and a sense of futility.

The second thought relates to the fact that the perpetrators of mass murder are almost always male. What is it about our codes of masculinity in this society that valorize violence to such a degree that shooting sprees are becoming commonplace?

I want to mention that our failure to fund the treatment of mental illness is critical, but I hope people distinguish between what we commonly think of as mental illnesses — schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression disorders, which are very uncommonly associated with violence and often treatable with talk and/or medication — and what seems to be at play in these instances of mass murder. The disorders associated with these killers — borderline personality disorder (emotional dysregulation), sociopathy/psychopathy and similar conditions — are more poorly understood. We see them on CSI and Criminal Minds, but we rarely talk about them in decent company, hiding in fear and shame from recognizing that there are human beings who have no empathy or conscience and, when unable or unwilling to adequately regulate their emotions, can and will perform evil acts. A major piece in The New York Times Magazine earlier this year discussed this conundrum in detail, focusing on nascent sociopaths.

As a member of the trans and gay communities, I am not naïve about violence. In particular, trans women of color are significantly more likely to suffer a violent attack than the average citizen. Class, race and ethnicity all play a role in the increased prevalence of such violence, and the fear thereof, which in some communities is a daily fact of life. Those women, however, are not at risk from the uncommon sociopath but are caught up in subcultures of young men whose code of masculinity allows no room at all for gender variance, and the more prevalent cross-cultural code of masculinity then channels that rejection of others into violence.

I am supporting a project run by famed trans activist Riki Wilchins in D.C. that is an attempt to reach out to those subcultures and engage with them to discover the source of their intolerance of trans women and the routine use of violence as a response. A common response was, “Transgender — that’s just a longer word for ‘gay.'” These young men have cut down to the bone of transphobia and homophobia: a violation of the code of how men are supposed to behave. Men do not flirt with other men, nor do they dress up like their mothers. Being associated with such a person — walking down the same block, let alone actually speaking to one another — is a sin punishable by ostracism from the band of brothers. And to prove that there was no sexual interest involved at all, the man whose identity is on trial can redeem it often only by acting out violently against the trans woman. Violence is the only acceptable response to a challenge of masculinity.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/the-sandy-hook-tragedy-anti-trans-violence-and-codes-of-masculinity_b_2317794.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Two women sue Texas Troopers for illegal roadside cavity search

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/19/two-women-sue-texas-troopers-for-illegal-roadside-cavity-search/

By David Edwards
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A federal lawsuit filed by two Irving women claims that Texas State Troopers humiliated them by performing illegal cavity searches on the side of the road after a cigarette butt was thrown out of their car window.

State Trooper David Farrell called in a female trooper to perform cavity searches of Angel Dobbs, 38, and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley Dobbs, because he said that he smelled marijuana and the women were “acting weird,” attorney Scott Palmer told KTVT on Tuesday.

Angel Dobbs recalled that the female trooper, Kelley Helleson, asked for her permission to perform the search and then told her to “shut up and just listen.”

Dashcam video shows Helleson searching the anuses and vaginas of both women with the same latex gloves in full view of other passing cars.

“At this point, I’m in clear shock. I can’t even believe this is happening,” Angel Dobbs explained. Turns me around goes down into the front of my pants into my inner thigh and at which point she goes up with two fingers. I just look at her and say ‘oh my God, I’ve just been violated.’”

And then the trooper performed the same procedure on Ashley Dobbs without changing her gloves.

“She went down, then turned me around, and went down my front and then she actually dug,” Ashley Dobbs said. “I didn’t know what I could say, what I could do. I felt hopeless.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/19/two-women-sue-texas-troopers-for-illegal-roadside-cavity-search/

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Boycott The Salvation Army

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What Is it About Men That They’re Committing These Horrible Massacres?

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/gender/what-it-about-men-theyre-committing-these-horrible-massacres

“But what about the men?” It’s a question that’s been asked by few in the context of the recent mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

By Meghan Murphy
December 18, 2012

 “But what about the men?” It’s a question that’s been avoided by the mainstream within the context of mass shootings.

The recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut sparked thousands of conversations across the continent about gun laws, mental illness, and violence. And sadly, we’ve been here before.

We’ve had conversations about access to guns – the victims would still be alive today, after all, if there were no gun. We’ve talked about the need to better address mental illness in North America – about how people need access to services and treatment. With proper support, potential perpetrators could get the help they need before it’s too late. And what about the media? We see violence all the time in movies, video games, and on television. Have we become so desensitized to violence that mass murder has become par for the course? Or, worse, a way to achieve fame in a culture obsessed with celebrity as a goal unto itself?

All these factors are relevant. All of these conversations should be had. But no one is asking what is, for once, the single most important question: What about the men?

In 1984, a 39-year-old man opened fire at an upscale nightclub in Dallas after a woman rejected his aggressive sexual advances . The man, Abdelkrim Belachheb, went out to his car, retrieved his gun, and returned to the bar, shooting the woman to death. He then reloaded his gun and killed a total of six more people . Capital punishment quickly became the center of the national conversation. In fact, Belachheb’s crime is most remembered as it lead to the passage of House Bill 8 in Texas —the “multiple murder” statute, which made serial killing and mass murder capital crimes.

That same year, James Oliver Huberty, a man whose ‘volatile temper’ and history of domestic violence is documented, opened fire at a McDonald’s restaurant in California, killing 21 people before being shot dead by a police officer. At the time, this shooting was the “ largest single-day, single-gunman massacre in U.S. history .” Shocked, liberal politicians used the incident to lobby for stricter gun laws. Others wanted to know why he wasn’t able to access the mental health services he needed.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/gender/what-it-about-men-theyre-committing-these-horrible-massacres

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Russell Brand Interviews Westboro Baptist Church

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Social Security: Will Obama Cave?

From The American Prospect:  http://prospect.org/article/social-security-will-obama-cave

The deal between the White House and the GOP includes changes to the cost-of-living formula that amount to needless cuts for seniors.

Robert Kuttner
December 18, 2012

Once again, President Obama seems to be on the verge of folding a winning hand.

Widely leaked reports indicate that the president and House Speaker John Boehner are making a fiscal deal that includes hiking tax rates back to the pre-Bush levels with a threshold of $400,000 rather than the original $250,000, and cutting present Social Security benefits.

Obama, the reports say, will now settle for as little as $1.2 trillion in tax increases on the rich rather than the $1.6 trillion that he had originally sought. The difference, in effect, will come out of the pockets of workers, retirees, the young, and the poor.

Especially foolish is the cut in Social Security benefits, disguised as a change in the cost-of-living adjustment formula. Before getting to the arcane details of the formula, here’s the bottom line. The proposed change will save only $122 billion over ten years, but it will significantly cut benefits for the elderly.

Because the cut is in the form of a change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the longer you live, the more is the total cut. On average, the cut is about 3 percent a year, but if you live twenty years after you start drawing benefits (the average), that adds up to over ten thousand dollars.

Put this in the context of the reliance of the elderly on Social Security. More than 70 percent of all recipients depend on Social Security for more than half their income. The average Social Security benefit is less than $15,000 a year, and in recent years all of the cost-of-living adjustments and more have gone to defray the annual increases in Medicare premiums and other health costs.

One interesting detail in Obama’s apparent cave-in on Social Security is the role played by some prominent liberals, notably Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

The proposed change involves a shift to something called the Chained CPI. Supposedly, when the price of something goes up, people substitute cheaper products. The application of the Chained CPI to the elderly (who are already scrimping) is problematic—more on that in a moment—but Greenstein has had kind words for disguised cuts in Social Security via the Chained CPI.

Continue reading at:  http://prospect.org/article/social-security-will-obama-cave

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