In a recent viral TikTok video, Rose Montoya shared her experience as a nonbinary trans woman going through airport security and all the anxieties and headaches that come with it.
Rose Montoya is a public speaker, model, actor, makeup artist, and content creator from Arizona.
In a Buzzfeed interview, she said:
"My goal is to spread love and education about my community as I share my story."
Montoya, who uses she/her and they/them pronouns, began by acknowledging her privilege as someone who passes as a cisgender woman and how she is fortunate to have all of her paperwork reflect her female identity.
"But going through the scanner, there's a male scanner and a female scanner at the TSA checkpoint."
You can watch Montoya's video here:
"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."
When TSA scans people going through the check point, there is a female and a male scanner the agents decide to use as each person passes through.
Montoya continues explaining:
"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, such as in an airport."
"But, going through the scanner, I always have an 'anomaly' between my legs that sets off the alarm."
"And so she (the TSA attendant) asked me if I had anything in my pants and I told her 'no' and she's like, 'Well, maybe it's just like the metal on your shorts, so let's scan you again.'"
The scanner alarmed again, leading Montoya to disclose their transgender status to the agent. The TSA agent offered they go through the male scanner, leading to their breasts causing the alarm to sound once more.
The one minute video ends with Montoya saying:
"Then [the TSA agent] said, 'Well we have to pat you down. Would you like a man to do it instead?' And I said, 'No, absolutely not.'"
The comments section of the video came with sympathy from allies and lament over the shared issue from some.
Some people also felt the need to defend the TSA worker.
However, a lot of people commented on the impact of unintentional transphobia.
A person making a hurtful comment out of ignorance—even if they "meant well" doesn't make the comment not hurtful.
Since this video got 3.4 million likes on TikTok, it eventually made it's way to Twitter where people also had something to say.
The TSA likewises inspects trans people's anatomy and likewise violates their 4th Amendment rights. Same with priso… https://t.co/XxHR27ts1E— Gillian Branstetter (@Gillian Branstetter) 1616504362.0
Every time I fly I walk up to the full body scanner and say to the TSA agent, “female please.” It’s humiliating. https://t.co/Y7nZcrx8B6— Shakina (@Shakina) 1616328249.0
@TSA @TSA_Southeast TSA is why I drive everywhere I can. Nothing quite like flying while trans. Having 2 of your ag… https://t.co/kjfIIdMpQ2— JAM CC (@JAM CC) 1616110263.0
One person suggested going with TSA's Pre-Check option.
That is just what Montoya did this past Friday, March 26.
In an Instagram video, Montoya made excellent points as to why it is so important for trans people to be respected in the airport, but also in every aspect of their lives.
"I have been groped and harassed and assaulted [by TSA]. I have been asked stripped to prove that I'm not smuggling something through the airport, simply because my body is not a cisgender body."
"I'm so thankful that this woman [at TSA Pre-Check] was so helpful and so kind to believe me when I told her who I am."
"We need the equality act to pass, as well. If we had national protection against discrimination I think that we would see a lot more policy changes."
They ended with:
"Transphobia is a systemic problem. In all places of power we are being discriminated against and attacked. We need the same rights as every other human."
"Trans people are deserving of respect."