Are TSA Pat Downs Becoming Too Invasive?

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By Gabrielle Seunagal
The Transportation Security Administration has recently generated controversy after announcing that more “rigorous” and “comprehensive pat downs will be occurring in airports across the country. Apparently, TSA has failed at least 95% of airport security tests, in which undercover agents attempted–and succeeded–in smuggling banned weapons through airport checkpoints. However, persons boarding a plane are not the only ones who will be subjected to additional and more random full body pat downs. Employees, flight attendants, crew members, and others will be checked to ensure that no bombs, weapons, explosives, or other prohibited paraphernalia makes its way onto a plane.

Whether or not the pat downs will involve contact with the genitals have come into question. TSA has not immediately addressed these concerns; however a few months ago, CNN political commentator reported feelings of “humiliation” after a pat down of her genitals at a Detroit airport. The security of everyone on an airplane is important, but with the same token, groping any person’s genitalia is unacceptable. Pat downs of arms, legs, and lower torso (for women) is tolerable but private areas should be scanned by a machine. Safety is crucial, but there are correct and incorrect ways of going about it.
In TSA’s defense, they have taken steps to increase the comfort of passengers by placing them with inspectors of the same gender. Although this may not be the intended effect, this protocol opens an additional can of worms. What if a woman “identifies” as a man or vise versa? What of transgender Americans? Should a transgender woman be patted down by a man or a woman? There is no simple solution to the issues that have arisen as a result of new TSA regulations, but I sincerely hope that a peaceable solution can be found.

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