A transgender passenger has accused a TSA agent of hitting her in her genitals as she was being searched at JFK Airport on Saturday.
In a series of now-deleted tweets, the transgender woman described how she was left humiliated and in pain after the female TSA agent “punched” her in her genital region.
“A TSA agent at JFK punched me in the genitalia, yelled at me for having a penis (?) and humiliated me in front of everyone after I told her to please stop,” the passenger wrote in one of the tweets.
“She followed me into the women’s bathroom and began talking about me to a coworker while I sobbed in a stall,” the message continued.
The tweets attracted thousands of views before the passenger deleted the thread and then made her account private. One of the tweets explained: “Haven’t stopped crying since an hour ago. My balls still hurt so bad”.
Nearly a year ago to the day, TSA Administrator David Pekoske said the agency was taking steps to improve the airport screening experience for transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming airline passengers.
Pekoske promised to “swiftly” introduce gender-neutral screening processes that would reduce the number of false red flags and the need for invasive pat-down searches.
One of the problems that affect transgender airline passengers is that body screening units known as advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines run gender-based algorithms to detect possible weapons or other contraband.
In the case of male-to-female transgender women, these units sometimes flag male genitalia as an area requiring a pat-down search because the system has been told to run a gender-based threat detection algorithm based on the female form.
In 2021, the mother of a transgender teenager fled a lawsuit against the TSA, claiming agents at Raleigh-Durham Airport demanded her trans daughter be subjected to a genital examination in order to board a flight to New York.
Kimberly Erway’s daughter was only 15 years old at the time of the incident in 2019. She was detained and asked to subject to the search because the AIT machine highlighted her genitalia as a possible threat.
Erway says they refused to consent to the search, and in the end, they were forced to hire a car and drive the 600-mile journey to New York City.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.