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Airlines will adjust TSA screenings to be non invasive for LGBTQIA+ community

TSA said that alternative screening methods will be used until the new gender-neutral screening technology successfully passes testing.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In an effort to make airport screening processes less invasive and more gender neutral, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Thursday, March 31 that it will follow new standard operation procedures (SOPs) when screening transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming airline passengers at TSA checkpoints.

According to TSA, the Inclusion Action Committee task force, which was launched in August of 2020, has worked with TSA to make changes to internal and external policies that result in a better travel experience for minorities and LGBTQIA+ communities.

Under new SOPs, Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) will reduce pat-down screenings, using alternative screening methods for passengers who trigger AIT scanners from sensitive areas of the body until new gender-neutral screening technology successfully passes testing .

TSA reports that it received $18.6 million in funding for the 2022 Fiscal Year, which has helped progress the development of the gender neutral AIT screening technology that is expected to be implemented at airport TSA checkpoints sometime later this year.

It is not clear what screening methods TSA will use in place of pat downs. TSA only said that screening methods that would replace pat downs would not compromise security.

According to TSA, checkpoint SOPs were updated in February of 2022 to remove gender confirmation from the process of authenticating a passenger’s identity.

TSA explained that gender is “irrelevant in determining that a traveler may proceed into the screening area after a passenger has provided identification documents at the travel document checker podium."

There will also be changes made to the Precheck program that will allow passengers to select “X” and "U" (undisclosed) as an alternative gender marker when passenger complete Precheck online or from their mobile devices.

Passengers can select “X” or "U" regardless of what their driver’s license or identification documents show.

According to TSA,  two major airlines already allow passengers to use “X” and “U” gender markers when setting travel reservations and completing the Precheck process, and one additional airline plans to offer the markers later this year.

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