Maneuvering stress-free through Transportation Security Administration security lines can present challenges to many travelers. For a San Francisco transgender rights advocate, that challenge turned into an alleged act of discrimination.
Mia Satya, a LGBTQ spokesperson who is transgender, was making her way through security at the Reagan International Airport in the nation's capital when she was ceased by agents for having a "groin anomaly," the SF Examiner first reported.
Satya claims that TSA agents then "touched my entire genital region" during a pat down search conducted next to the body scanners and directly in the view of other passengers.
"I was traumatized from the first pat down because it was so invasive," she said.
Satya, who was on her way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, says that she was required to undergo two additional screenings, one in which she had to pull down her underwear while TSA agents inspected her genitalia behind a small, see through fabric for three seconds.
The entire ordeal was described by Satya as embarrasing and a form of harrassment. Not only is this a painful memory for Satya, but she says that members of the LBGTQ community face similar treatment everyday.
"It really shows me that we still have a lot more work to do," she said.
TSA was unavailable to provide a comment on this specific case, but passed along its screening policies to NBC Bay Area. According to TSA policy, agents relay the gender of any traveler - either male or female - to the screening machines before travelers pass through the imaging portals because the machines scan male and female bodies differently. If any warnings trigger the systems, agents will conduct "additional screening."
TSA policy also stipulates that transgender passengers "will not be asked to remove or lift any article of clothing to reveal sensitive body areas."
Satya doesn't care much about receiving pity. She instead will focus her attention on filing a complaint with the TSA and pushing for the security body to change its practices.
"TSA largely operates without civilian oversight and they need to be held accountable for singling out people who are trans," she said.