The mother of a transgender teen recently announced she has filed a federal law suit against the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for violating her daughter’s right to privacy when they insisted she let them inspect her genitals and refused to allow her and her mother on a flight outward bound from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to New York.
Kimberly Erway, the mother of daughter Jamii Erway, says in the lawsuit the series of events, which occurred in 2019, caused her daughter to have a panic attack and left her frightened and humiliated.
In addition to the violation of privacy, the TSA is also being sued for violating Jamii’s fourth ammendment rights, which means no probable cause was apparent and no valid reason was issued to justify the search.
TSA authorities reportedly told the younger Erway that she would not be allowed to leave the airport onboard the plane — even though she had a valid boarding pass — until she submitted to a strip search.
According to the TSA, the scanning machine at the airport raised a red flag because an airport employee pushed a button to indicate that Jamii was female. After the device detected some “anomalies,” Jamii’s body was not recognized as female by the scanner and an explanation was provided. TSA authorities, however, still insisted on the invasive exam.
Rather than submit her daughter to the stress of personal invasion, Kimberly Erway chose to rent a car and drive 600 miles to their destination in New York.
No information has been released that specifies the amount of money being sought in the lawsuit, but the Erways are requesting a change in policy so that Jamii and other trans individuals will not be forced to go through such personal invasions in the future.
A cursory search of the internet reveals that a Dr. Kimberly Erway lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and previously resided in Rochester, New York. She is listed as a currently practicing psychiatrist and an email address for Jamii Erway is associated with an online info profile.
Not surprisingly, when the story broke last week response from the trans community has been abundant on the social media platform Twitter.
Sofie Halili posted on Twitter: “Every single time I fly I just have to let myself be assaulted. The way I have to normalize it for myself is so disgusting.”
Another individual posting as Hazel on Twitter, said the following: “I have a lot of flight experience and since I transitioned, every time I have gone through the scanners I’ve had to have a pat down. My choice is to either get scanned as female and then a female officer has to check my junk, or get scanned as a man and have a dude grab my chest.”
An individual named Avery and identifying as female posted this on Twitter: “I remember flying for the first time summer 2019 and having to pretend the flight was making me nervous to all my friends, when really I was definitely afraid of being publicly outed and the possible invasive TSA search. Hate so much this happened but love she is working to end it!”
So far, there has been no response from TSA regarding this incident, or why they deem it necessary to directly inspect the genitals of transgender individuals, even though this policy is posted on their website in a section specifically marked as informative for the trans community:
Requesting a Pat-Down: You may request to receive a pat-down instead of AIT screening. You may request to have a pat-down in private and be accompanied by a companion of your choice. You may bring your carry-on baggage to the private screening area and may request a chair to sit if needed. You will not be asked to remove or lift any article of clothing to reveal sensitive body areas.
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