Following upon my own brush with the Transportation Safety Administration's security theatrics at airports, I naturally follow developments in this arena closely. In 2007, I described a European innovation: full body image scanning of passengers. Basically, they've now got the technological capacity to peek under your clothes looking for weapons.
Today I received an alert from the National Center for Transgender Equality pointing out that while such a procedure that might seem a minor embarrassment to many of us, for some transgendered folks it could lead to harassment or worse.
The scanners reveal a lot: breasts, genitals, buttocks, prosthetics, binding materials, and any objects on the person’s body. The TSA says they will only be viewed by one employee in a closed windowless room and not saved anywhere. Faces are to be blurred out. Sounds fairly secure -- except that the TSA viewer will be in voice contact with the security screeners and likely to tell them to subject anyone who looks different to extra screening. And that is where this could get dicey for transfolks.
That makes good sense to me. Rep. Jason Chaffetz has proposed an amendment to the TSA Authorization Act to allow anyone who chooses to submit to a pat down search rather than the see-through scanners. I can imagine the circumstances in which I'd make that choice out of solidarity with people who don't want to risk the more invasive procedure.
The era of Security Theater just keeps throwing off new wrinkles ...