Transgender woman held at Orlando Airport, TSA says did nothing wrong

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando International Airport TSA and American Airlines are getting some negative attention after a transgender woman live-tweeted her travel nightmare trying to fly to Minneapolis out of Orlando.

Shadi Petosky tweeted that she was held by the TSA because of an “anomaly.” 





  At this point, Petosky reported that officers tried to take her phone away but she refused. 




  At this point, Petosky attempted to rebook her flight, but she says a TSA agent asked her to leave the airport. 


  Reporters began calling Petosky as she continued to try to find a flight out of OIA. 


Petosky recharged her phone and received a tweet from American Airlines saying they’re glad she was able to rebook. One problem – at that point she hadn’t received a new boarding pass. After the police became involved, Petosky was given a ticket to Miami, where she apparently is right now before getting on a flight home. 

Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s Transgender Inclusion Director, says they’ve been trying to reach Petosky but no luck yet.

“Equality Florida is very concerned and disappointed in the situation which apparently occurred last evening,” Duncan says. “The treatment and humiliation endured by Shadi Petosky, a transgender woman, is unacceptable.”

She says there’s a need for a change in TSA airport procedure, and it’s “alarming” how many members of the transgender community are now sharing their stories similar to Petosky’s.

“Many transgender people have expressed via social media that they fear going through airport security or opt to not travel by air altogether,” Duncan says. “Procedures are inconsistent, demeaning and potentially violate the civil rights of transgender travelers. A review of screening procedures, and the need for improved training are needed, and a better way found, to keep Americans safe without violating and demeaning the transgender population.”

Duncan says they’ve been in touch with the Orlando Police Department, whose officers have been trained on LGBT cultural competency, and the OPD officer at the scene did a good job.

“Apparently, he appears to be the only person of authority who handled the situation in an acceptable manner,” Duncan says.

Here’s a statement from TSA spokesman Mike England:

“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.”

From the TSA website, here are those screening procedures:

“Transgender persons should use the name and gender that appears on their government-issued ID when making flight reservations and at the security checkpoint. You may ask that carry-on bags be screened in private if a bag must be opened by a TSA officer to resolve an alarm. Screening can be conducted in a private screening area with a witness or companion. You may request private screening or to speak with a supervisor at any time during the screening process.”

The TSA also responded to a tweet request that people message the TSA and ask them not to abuse transgender people at airports.

Watermark is following this story closely – keep an eye on Watermark Online for more updates as they become available.

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