Trans woman blasts ‘transphobic’ TSA over scanner sensing ‘anomaly between my legs’

Trans woman blasts ‘transphobic’ TSA over scanner sensing ‘anomaly between my legs’
Image: Rosalynne Montoya

By Mary Margaret Olohan

A bisexual, non-binary, transgender woman tore into the “transphobic” Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in a viral video over a scanner that reportedly sensed an “anomaly between my legs that sets off the alarm.”

In the video, Rosalynne Montoya, who identifies herself as a “public speaker, model, actor, makeup artist, and content creator” describes an incident that allegedly occurred while she was traveling from Phoenix to Los Angeles.

“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,” Montoya says in the video, which follows.

“But, going through the scanner, there’s a male scanner and a female scanner in the TSA checkpoint,” Montoya adds. “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.”

Montoya says that TSA scanners always indicate that she has “an ‘anomaly’ between my legs that sets off the alarm.”

A TSA agent reportedly asked Montoya if she had anything in her pants, to which she replied no. ‘Well, maybe it’s just like the metal on your shorts, so let’s scan you again,’” the agent is reported to have said.

But when Montoya went through the scanner again, the alarm went off.

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.

Montoya reports having 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.’

A number of states require transgender persons to have bottom surgery before they can change their gender marker, Montoya maintains, but she changed documents in Washington which, she says, “is luckily more trans-friendly than most states.”

I feel incredibly thankful and fully recognize this is a privilege many trans people do not have.

The scanners at TSA checkpoints are made with only two settings, forcing the TSA agents to make a split-second decision on whether to scan travelers as male or female.

Afterwards, I took a deep breath, grabbed my things and bought myself a cookie butter latte and a snack. I felt dysphoric and disrespected, but remembered how much worse this experience used to be. I FaceTimed my boyfriend, who listened to my story and calmed me down.

Montoya told Buzzfeed that this is not the first uncomfortable travel experience she has faced.

I am not a second-class citizen. I’m deserving of the same rights and the same respect as cisgender people. The TSA security machines should account for trans and non-binary people.

And the agents should understand that misgendering me and outing me as a trans person in public could be potentially dangerous. Trans people are attacked at alarming rates when we are outed — especially Black trans women.

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