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Rep. Rice Introduces Bill to Improve Airport Security Screening of Transgender Travelers


U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice (NY-04) introduced a bill yesterday to protect the dignity and privacy of transgender and other travelers at airport security screening checkpoints. The Screening with Dignity Act of 2020 would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to develop new procedures and officer training protocols on how to appropriately and respectfully screen transgender passengers and passengers with religious headwear and other articles of faith.

“While safety is paramount, there is absolutely no reason any American should be subjected to public humiliation while going through airport security,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “The continued reports of discrimination and harassment experienced by transgender, religious and other marginalized travelers at airport screening checkpoints demonstrate that TSA needs to make significant changes to be more inclusive and accommodating. I thank my colleagues for joining me on this bill during Pride Month to require TSA to improve its security procedures and ensure all passengers are able to travel with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Currently, TSA’s advanced imaging technology requires officers to identify each passenger as either “male” or “female” before one enters the screening unit. As a result, transgender passengers are often flagged as “anomalies” if they trigger an alarm, and could potentially be “outed” as transgender before being required to undergo additional screening. This has led to several reported incidents of public humiliation, discrimination and harassment.

The bill also directs TSA to develop new procedures to appropriately and respectfully screen individuals traveling with religious headwear or other articles of faith, who are also subjected to discrimination at airport screening checkpoints.

The Screening with Dignity Act of 2020 has earned support from the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus and has been endorsed by the National Center for Transgender Equality.

“Transgender travelers deserve nothing less than dignity and decency as they pass through TSA screening, just like any other passenger,” said Rep. Joe Kennedy (MA-04), the Chair of the Equality Caucus’s bipartisan Transgender Equality Task. “As transgender Americans confront daily acts of transphobia, the Equality Caucus stands united to dismantle barriers like discriminatory screening for transgender passengers.”

“Every traveler - including transgender people - should feel safe during a TSA screening,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), a Co-Chair of the Equality Caucus. “The Screening with Dignity Act will equip our TSA Agents with better processes in screening, and ensure all travelers are treated with the respect they deserve.”

“It’s past time that the TSA improve screening procedures to ensure that transgender people, religious minorities or people with disabilities are not embarrassed or humiliated as they try to travel by air,” said Mara Keisling, the Executive Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “TSA has been promising reform for years, but very little has changed. The Screening with Dignity Act will help to ensure TSA has policies in place to protect transgender travelers, ensure that agents are properly trained and require new technology to be effective and treat all people fairly.”

Joining Rice on the bill as cosponsors are Representatives David Cicilline (RI-01), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Scott Peters (CA-52), Janice Schakowsky (IL-09), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Joe Kennedy (MA-04), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC).

The full text of the Screening with Dignity Act of 2020 is available here.

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