Trans woman shares ‘immense anxiety’ she feels going through airport security: ‘The system is broken’

Matilda Davies
·2-min read

TikToker and model Rose Montoya has called out the Transport Security Administration (TSA) on TikTok for how their scanners give trans people “immense anxiety”.

In the viral video, which has been viewed more than three million times, she talks about her experience with airport security and why “we need to change how the scanners function and educate TSA about trans people”.

She explained: “Going through the scanner, there’s a male and female scanner for the TSA checkpoint.

“But going through the scanner, I always have an ‘anomaly’ between my legs that sets off the alarm. So she asked me if I had anything in my pants and I say, ‘No’, so she said, ‘Maybe it’s just the metal buttons on your shorts.’

“So I went through the scanner again but I set off the alarm again, so I said I am trans woman and to just pat me down.

“Her solution was to ask me if I wanted to be scanned as a man instead. I didn’t, but I ended up doing it.

“And my boobs set it off, because of course. So I tried to make a joke out of it and said don’t worry, there’s just a bunch of plastic in there.

“Then she said we have to pat you down and asked if I would prefer a man to do it. I said absolutely not.”

She also posted the TikTok to Instagram, where many trans people commented with similar experiences while travelling.

Montoya wrote on Instagram: “It’s been proven that the system we have in place is broken and doesn’t work.

“We also need to train people on how to treat trans people. If I tell you I’m a trans woman, it most likely means I want to be scanned as a woman, treated as a woman, and patted down by a woman.”

In the video, Rose Montoya also discussed her privilege as someone who is “cis-assuming”, or often mistaken for being cisgender.

The TSA has frequently come under fire for their binary scanning technology and officers lacking awareness of trans issues.

A previous ProPublica investigation found that trans people can face invasive searches by the TSA in airports, including allegations that TSA officers have required passengers to show their genitals in order to board a flight.