TSA Is Changing Its Screening Process to Become More Gender-neutral — Here's How
The Transportation Security Administration will shift to more gender-neutral standards for screening passengers, the agency announced on Thursday.
The agency said the new measures — which consist of reducing pat-down screenings and making its TSA PreCheck program more inclusive — will be implemented in the coming months and will aim to make travel better for transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming passengers.
"On this internationally recognized day for the transgender community, TSA is proud to announce significant initiatives as a direct result of close partnership with community stakeholders," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement on Transgender Day Of Visibility. "Over the coming months, TSA will move swiftly to implement more secure and efficient screening processes that are gender-neutral, as well as technological updates that will enhance security and make TSA PreCheck enrollment more inclusive. These combined efforts will greatly enhance airport security and screening procedures for all."
To help with its efforts, the TSA is rolling out Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) units, which the agency said are more accurate and will replace the current gender-based AIT system. In the meantime, the TSA said it will update its operating procedure to permit less invasive screening measures "for certain passengers who trigger the AIT scanner in a sensitive area."
Additionally, the agency said it would update the applications for its TSA PreCheck program by providing a "X" gender marker option. Applicants will be able to select their gender based on self-attestation starting in early April.
Last month, the agency updated its checkpoint procedure "to remove gender considerations when validating a traveler's identification at airport security checkpoints."
The TSA's plans come months after the State Department issued its first passport with an "X" gender designation in October 2021. Starting April 11, all U.S. citizens will be able to select "X" under gender on U.S. passport applications, the Department of State announced on Thursday. The option will then be extended to other forms of documentation next year.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.