L3 An Introduction to Provision 2
If you’ve flown in the last decade, you’ve probably gone through it, though if you’re CIS, you probably haven’t thought twice about its brand name. These L-3 scanners became the standard in 2013, following widespread public criticism of TSA’s older machines, which sent a kind of nude X-ray to airline passengers to study agents for so-called potential threats. These, in turn, use “automated target recognition software”, which maps the little threat boxes to people’s crude, impersonal rendering.
If you’ve never noticed after walking through a semi-enclosed tube and having your arms angled above your head, the TSA agent sees something like this, which indicates that you need a pat-down on your left leg.
What you will probably notice here is a blue scan button and a pink scan button. Since no one has designed this system with the slightest idea of gender complexity, the blue scan button is for boys and the pink scan button is for girls. You can’t see it because you’re in the tube, but every time someone steps forward to scan at the airport, the TSA agent working on this machine has to see them and determine their gender. This additional information, theoretically manually input, helps the scanner to distinguish the genitals (permitted) from guns and bombs (not allowed). Innovation!
The most serious problem is that this shit doesn’t seem to work. The TSA has posted regular success rates when it comes to covert security tests, and these scanners are tall as the hollow, expensive symbol of 21st century American security theater. But I have a lot more personal beef with them. This problem will start in late 2017 or early 2018, I think. This was my first year of physically transitioning as a trans woman, and for those who have never experienced it, it was a wonderful time. Not only is your body literally going through adolescence, but the way strangers react to you is completely off the map and impossible to predict. Some just see a boy. Someone sees a girl. Some people want to shout when they see a boy. Many are just confused. All of this rubs off on your own image, which often doesn’t show up in the “dumb mismanagement blob”. It is a difficult ascent and descent to a place where you are comparatively right where you see and be seen every day.
The first time a TSA agent pressed a pink button for me, I was completely unaware that their scanners needed to determine the sex of every single person who set foot in their little safety tube; I didn’t know what would happen if you shut them down. As such, I was very surprised and nervous that they would run me through a script to make any objections that I would eventually memorize. I was asked if I wanted to search in the open or in a private room, and for speed I said ok here. I was then asked if I had a preference for the sex of the person who searched for me and to avoid any tension or stress I said it didn’t matter. The agent then told me how to move his gloved arms along my upper leg, waist and groin area before I really went through that discomfort. Then for my hand swabbed, I guess, the remains of the bomb. Then, after clearing all the stages, I got my luggage from the conveyor belt, absorbing all sorts of curious and annoying sight from the rest of the line. For the first time, I’m pretty sure I heard a TSA agent’s partner say, “I told you so.”
As it progresses, I gain some insight into how different CIS people react when suddenly faced with the existence of an undoubtedly trans person in a risky situation. The ones I like the least grill me with questions about my identity behind trying to avoid crime. The ones I didn’t think of were just a hint of isolated frustration, silently annoyed that I was getting them out of their easy, button-pushing routine. The best people have at least tried to show some sympathy for my ordeal, compliment me, or engage me in small talk about my travels, although I have annoyed them almost as much as the rest of them have imposed on me, albeit apologetically. Laughter
I think an older woman in Chicago for whom I am grateful, I think it helped me understand that this is not a routine that I needed to endure silently for the near future. At this point, my strategy was to try to completely detach myself from my body and walk through the TSA like a numb zombie, with all the defenses that make my mind more than multiple times prevent me from being too aware of my body. I didn’t even realize at first what he was talking about when he said, “Oh, honey, you’re trembling,” the kind of voice you’d use to address a three-legged dog.
“This is my most favorite part of flying,” I squeaked during my brief reappearance within myself, while his hands moved over my legs.
As much as I admire the US Department of Homeland Security’s firm belief that my garbage is a weapon that poses a serious threat to national security, I have tried to devise some strategies to keep things beautiful and distance between me and the TSA. When I flew I initially tried to look like a boy as much as possible, but I’m proud to say that just straight-up failed and the agent pressed the pink anyway. Before they scanned I tried to explain the situation to the agent, but it was just messy, because talking on the tube seemed to be frowning and because I could never hit a short collection of words that could explain the impending situation. Someone is completely unprepared for it. It was like asking a child if they needed to use the bathroom before the long drive.
But in recent times when I have been blown away and stuck in scanners instead of basic metal detectors that sometimes open at busy times, I have been able to use my acquired understanding of TSA’s machine and its mechanism to avoid any aggressive touch. . Although I don’t feel comfortable saying that it will work universally, even for me all the time, this is my best and most proven strategy, and I will continue to use it up front.
- Stay completely calm and normal through a complete scan. Do nothing to distinguish yourself from other passengers.
- When I get out of the machine, I see a scanner image pop up next to the agent. My groin is flagged when responding without any surprise or confusion. Immediately ask the agent, in a slightly lower voice than I normally use, “Do you want to try again by changing gender?” Go back an inch towards the machine when they try to understand the flawed flaws of their technology.
- Scan again. This time, it’s possible that something flared up in my upper body – it must be a bra or a chest-related bug. This presents an annoying catch-22 for trans women. But in my case সম্ভবত probably because I had already passed another test in that area আমি I found nothing but a cool, reckless brush along my shoulder and upper arm, much better than the previous option.
At least to me it was cool and interesting that walking through the scary environment became easier for me when I embraced neutral self-confidence instead of amiable submission. Many people are still shocked to see the unexpected appearance of someone who does not follow the gender rules and many people do not want to do extra work in their job. So unless I jump too far from myself, and wait for the obvious problems to actually arise before I try to solve them, I can take advantage of both of these features so that I can move away from the somewhat horrible situation. Flying experience.
Hopefully if you are cis and read the whole thing here, you can learn something from my experience and apply it more generally. If not here’s a new product just for you!