Flying while butch
For some people, it's the airplane -- miles above the ground, the only thing between you and a vast blue sky -- that is the scariest part of flying. But for many transmen, transwomen and other gender non-conforming travelers, the most frightening part of a flight can be the process of getting through security.
Because of Transportation Security Administration measures like full body scans and gender-matching identification requirements, many transgender and butch people have good reason to fear being publicly outed and potentially subjected to verbal harassment or violence because of their physical presentation. And for far too many, it isn't just a fear of harassment or humiliation -- it's happening.
In the Huffington Post on Tuesday, Tristan Higgins wrote about the experience of flying while gender non-conforming. Higgins is a self-identified butch woman, "big, strong, tough, more macho, less girly," she says, and this isn't the first time her gender presentation has tripped up TSA agents working with scanning machines that have two clear gender directives: A pink button for women, a blue button for men. When it was Higgins' time to go through, the agent balked: