A transgender man has revealed he felt ‘demeaned’ when he was forced to remove his prosthetic penis while going through airport security.
The passenger, who was formerly a woman before transiting to a man, was subjected to a full body scan at the airport, thought to be in Australia, after which a staff member donned two pairs of gloves to handle the penis, saying, “you want me to touch that thing with my bare hands?”
The incident, which allegedly took place in 2015, is the subject of a complaint made via the National LGBTI Health Alliance in Australia to a Senate committee inquiry on airport and aviation security.
The transgender passenger said he was selected to go through a body scanner at the airport which picked up a prosthetic he was wearing in his underwear.
‘I explained to the officer at the scanner that I am trans and that I was wearing a prosthetic, to which he responded that he would need to get his supervisor,’ the transgender person said. In full view of other travellers, the Supervisor approached me putting rubber gloves on. He seemed more concerned with displaying his authority and making a spectacle out of the situation. When I asked him what the gloves were for, he told me that he was going to do a ‘private search’.
‘Not only did this make me feel incredibly uneasy, and anxious, but it was demeaning and unnecessary.’
The passenger was taken into a small room with two security officers, and was made to sign a form first before the body search.
The supervisor proceeded to put on a second glove and when asked why, he replied: ‘You want me to touch that thing with my bare hands?’.
The transgender person placed the prosthetic on a tray and the supervisor then patted him down.
‘Once he was satisfied, he turned around and opened the door for me to leave – my prosthetic still sitting in the tray,’ the passenger added.
‘I asked him to close the door so that I could have some privacy as I placed my prosthetic back in place. He closed the door and both men stood watching me as I put it back in place. I felt that the supervisor had no regard for me as a human being and treated me as though I was a criminal right from the beginning, even though I had taken all steps to cooperate with him.
I have had to deal with some very confronting situations in the past so have developed a thick skin, but this experience overshadowed what was meant to be a holiday and it has left me feeling incredibly degraded and has made me anxious about travelling.’
The passenger submitted his complaint as part of a Senate inquiry into airport and aviation security which will make it’s final report in May.