Rose Montoya, who is an Arizona-based, Hispanic, bisexual, non-binary transgender woman, recently went viral on TikTok for her frank discussion of how stressful it can be for a trans person to travel—especially to fly the friendly skies.
According to Rose, those skies can feel not-so-friendly when you are trans.
In a TikTok video, Montoya explained what happened to her while she was traveling from Phoenix to Los Angeles to visit her boyfriend.
“TSA agents have to make split second decisions on whether to scan for a ‘male’ or ‘female.’ It’s been proven that the system we have in place is broken and doesn’t work,” Montoya wrote on the Instagram caption.
“We also need to train people on how to treat trans people. If I tell you I’m a trans woman, it most likely means I want to be scanned as a woman, treated as a woman, and patted down by a woman. It’s incredibly frustrating and anxiety ridden to travel while trans.”
“Can we talk about how horrible it is to travel while being transgender sometimes? I always have immense anxiety leading up to going through security. And this means that I totally recognize the privilege of having all of my documents correct. So, the gender marker on my license, for example, says female,” she said.
“But, going through the scanner, there’s a male scanner and a female scanner in the TSA checkpoint. And, looking at me, you know, I look like a woman and I am a woman. So, that’s great. I love having systemic privilege when I feel unsafe, which is in an airport. But, going through the scanner, I always have an ‘anomaly’ between my legs that sets off the alarm. And so she (the TSA attendant) asked me if I had anything in my pants and I told her ‘no’ and she’s like, ‘Well, maybe it’s just like the metal on your shorts, so let’s scan you again.'”
Montoya set the alarm off again while going through the scanner, so she told the attendant that she is trans.
“So, I was like look, I’m trans. Just pat me down. And her solution was, ‘Do you want to be scanned as a man instead?’ I didn’t. But, I ended up doing it and then my boobs set off the scanner because, of course. So, I tried to make a joke out of it. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a lot of plastic in there! It’s fine.’ So then she was like, ‘OK, well we have to pat you down. Do you want a man to do it?’ I said, ‘NO! Absolutely not.'”
Unfortunately, this was not just a one-time incident.
Rose has had other upsetting experiences in airports: “Earlier in my transition, I had to experience much worse treatment in airports, from being asked invasive questions about my body, to being inappropriately touched, and sexually assaulted. There needs to be training in all businesses about transgender people. We are real and we have always existed. I am not a second-class citizen. I’m deserving of the same rights and the same respect as cisgender people.”
Featured Image: Instagram