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TSA to Launch Gender Neutral Check Screenings at Airports

The agency will also issue passport applications with the gender marker "X" in April

The Transportation Security Agency will use new screening standards for transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming passengers at airports.

The agency will replace its current, gender-based Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) system and work with the system’s manufacturer on updating the algorithm. 

The “new, more accurate technology” will “advance civil rights and improve the customer experience of travelers who previously have been required to undergo additional screening due to alarms in sensitive areas,” TSA said in a March 31 announcement.

“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,” said David Pekoske, the TSA Administrator.

President Joe Biden has proclaimed March 31 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,” said Pekoske. “These combined efforts will greatly enhance airport security and screening procedures for all.”

In addition to the technological changes, the TSA intends to reduce the number of pat-down screenings, simplify the identification validation process, and make TSA PreCheck enrollment more inclusive.

The agency removed the gender considerations from its standard operating procedures at airport checkpoints in February. Gender information is now considered “irrelevant” in agents’ consideration of if a traveler can pass through security.

The PreCheck program will include an “X” gender marker option and, in April, PreCheck travelers can list their gender according to their “self-attestation.”

“As of March 31, 2022, two major domestic air carriers offer ‘X’ and ‘U’ (undisclosed) gender markers in their travel reservation systems,” TSA reported. “A third airline will offer the same later this year.”

The airlines were not named in the announcement.

“DHS is committed to protecting the traveling public while ensuring that everyone, regardless of gender identity, is treated with respect,” Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in the statement reported by AP News.

The security procedure changes are the latest in the TSA’s ongoing effort to accommodate transgender passengers.

The agency will begin issuing U.S. passport applications with the gender marker “X” on April 11.

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