This Trans Person's Experience With TSA Is Going Viral For The Most Heartwarming Reason
“Heartwarming” is not a word I have ever associated with the TSA, security checks, or airports in general. (I’m much more likely to go with “frustrating,” “Ergh,” or “OMG WHY.”) But recently one trans person’s experience with the TSA was exactly that — respectful, positive, and uplifting AF. It turns out that some simple compassion and communication can do wonders to make the normally-grueling security process an all-around good experience.
On July 30, Amanda Sapir was at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, preparing to fly to San Francisco. Sapir is gender nonconforming (and uses "she/her") and has had trouble with TSA body scanners in the past. In a Facebook post, she said that she warned the TSA agent after going through the scanner, “The scanner is going to flag my crotch with a big yellow square.” True to her word, the scanner showed a yellow square across her pelvis, and she had the following conversation with the agent:
“Happens every time,” I say.
“Why do you think?” she says.
“Because I wear boxer briefs.”
“Oh, what is the gender you would like to be identified as?”
“Well, I consider myself gender nonconforming. I am female and also trans masculine.”
“Let's see what happens when I tell the machine you are male,” she says.
She sends me through the scanner one more time. The yellow square disappears.
Though a yellow rectangle has now appeared across my chest. We both start laughing!
“Now the machine is wondering about...”
“Boobs,” we say in unison laughing some more.
She asks me how I identify so that she may pat me down accordingly.
“You get to decide how you are identified,” she says.
In a year that has been characterized by a lot of transphobia and ridiculous trans-bathroom-panic, that last statement is at once incredibly simple and important: “You get to decide how you are identified.” Can we put that on a billboard somewhere?
Sapir wrote that, after she had a pat down, she told the TSA agent, an awesome human named Darlena Thi Lac, “Thank you. That was the kindest and most socially aware TSA experience I have ever had. Your thoughtfulness really means the world.”
“I love people,” Lac replied. “We should be kind to everyone.”
Sapir’s Facebook post about the experience has gone viral, garnering more than 53,000 reactions since she posted it last week. In the comments (which are chock-full of positive, happy messages to both Sapir and Lac), Sapir wrote, “I wish her so much of all good things. Such a sweet person. I almost missed my flight writing a positive comment card about her at the TSA counter.” She emphasized how important it is to report positive experiences like this, writing, “People are doing good things all around us. To appreciate such goodness is a real pleasure.”
Lac added her own response to Sapir's post: "What you put out, you get in return. Isn't that the chain reaction effect? Much Love to you Amanda! Thank you for this post, means a lot to me that I impacted you in a matter of 30 seconds."
Seriously, I think this is why the heart emoji was invented.