Last updated: 11:30 AM ET, Tue September 22 2015

TSA Under Fire Over Transgender Incident

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | September 22, 2015

TSA Under Fire Over Transgender Incident

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The Transportation Security Administration is under fire this morning for detaining a transgender woman at Orlando International Airport, saying she had an “anomaly” in her crotch area.

The transgendered passenger, Shadi Petosky, described her ordeal in a series of heartbreaking, harrowing tweets that began when she went through the full body scanner at the airport and told the TSA agent “I’m transgender. That’s my penis.”

The agent then apparently told Petosky to make a choice as to whether she a man or a woman so the scanner could be programmed correctly. Petosky told NBC News she replied, "I'm transgender. I am a woman, but I have an atrophied penis, trying to make it kind of not a big deal."

Petosky said the TSA agent then told her that if she didn’t want to be scanned as a man, she would be subject to a pat-down and search.

And so began a 40-minute ordeal in which she was detained in a private room with a police officer guarding the door, searched twice, and missed her American Airlines flight.

Petosky, the founder of the interactive media company Puny Entertainment, tweeted that she flies all the time and did not expect this. She received dozens of tweets back saying it happens more often than not to the transgender community.

Making matters worse, after missing her flight Petosky went through another ordeal in trying to rebook on American Airlines, which finally got her out this morning.

In a statement to the influential gay magazine The Advocate, a TSA spokesman said: “Our officers are trained to properly screen members of the transgender community. TSA takes all potential civil rights violations very seriously and conducted a review of the incident.

"After examining closed circuit TV video and other available information, TSA has determined that the evidence shows our officers followed TSA’s strict guidelines. Supervisory personnel and a Passenger Support Specialist participated in the screening to ensure guidelines were met.”

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