Shadi Petosky, Travelling While Trans, transgender, woman, TSA, American Airlines, #TravellingWhileTrans
Shadi Petosky, Travelling While Trans, transgender, woman, TSA, American Airlines, #TravellingWhileTrans

American Airlines, TSA Lie About A Woman Held For #TravelingWhileTrans

The Transportation Security Administration is having a crisis when it comes to transgender passengers.

Since 2003, the TSA has been instructed to watch out for male terrorists who might try to conceal their bombs by dressing as women. But instead of catching cross-dressing terrorists, the TSA’s policy has mostly caught trans-women: harassing them, treating their bodies as “anomalies” and “alarms” and subjecting them to invasive frisks and examinations.

Although 32 members of Congress have urged the TSA to update their trans policies, the continuing discrimination of trans people has compelled transgender travelers to create a #TravelingWhileTrans hashtag full of trans TSA horror stories. Even trans celebrity Caitlyn Jenner has called for an end to the TSA’s anti-trans harassment.

Amid the campaign, we wanted to highlight a case from last year that illustrates just how bad things have gotten. Most frequent fliers have a story about being inconvenienced by the TSA, but very rarely are they as bad as Shadi Petosky’s. Petosky was detained by the TSA and missed her flight merely because she is trans.

Luckily, she was live-tweeting her ordeal, and thanks to a heads up from Tig Notaro‘s twitter account (run that day by Tig’s friend Drew Koshgarian), the world found out:

Throughout the day, Petosky documented all the abuses she suffered from the TSA, the Orlando Airport and American Airlines:

She was detained by the TSA for 45 minutes — enough to miss her flight. Unfortunately, the indignities didn’t stop there. She tried to rebook her flight on American Airlines. The official @AmericanAir twitter account promised they’d rebook her flight, but didn’t seem to be in communication with the clerks at the flight desk, who told her all flights were on standby and that she’d have to buy a new ticket for just under $1,000.

Meanwhile, American Airlines was telling the press that she’d been re-booked to fly home to Minneapolis at no charge — this wasn’t true at all. Petosky was finally able to fly out of Orlando late that night to the Miami airport on American, just to get out of the hostile airport — on a half-filled plane. When she landed in Miami, she found out about American Airlines’ lies and was able to book a flight home on Delta.

As Petrosky points out, American Airlines’ false statements were strange, considering that her initial complaint was with the TSA. In interviews, company spokesman Ross Feinstein was person quoted as saying that Petrosky had been booked on a filght home; Petrosky later learned that Feinstein was previously a TSA spokesman.

After 33 hours, Petrosky finally got home. Petrosky says she wants American Airlines to start accommodating trans passengers detained by the TSA without additional charge and for the TSA to work with trans organizations like TransEquality to update its guidelines for gender nonconforming passengers.

Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign has also called for a thorough TSA investigation into Petrosky’s case.

We’ve included Petrosky’s entire saga below:

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