On March 31, International Trans Day of Visibility, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced new measures designed to better serve all American travelers, regardless of their gender identity.
Through technology updates, process changes, and expanded partnerships, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) are improving their screening procedures and ensuring they are conducted in a manner that respects the dignity of each individual. According to DHS, these measures are part of a concerted effort by the Biden-Harris Administration to advance equality for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming Americans.
The new DHS efforts include:
- Implementing enhanced screening technology: TSA will update its current Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) scanners with new technology that increases security and efficiency by reducing false alarm rates and pat-downs for the traveling public. By replacing the current, gender-based AIT system, this new, more accurate technology will also 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 will begin deploying this new technology in airports throughout the country later this year.
- Adopting more efficient, less invasive screening procedures: TSA will update its Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to permit less invasive screening procedures for certain passengers who trigger the AIT scanner in a sensitive area. This change will reduce pat-downs for TSOs and the traveling public without compromising security, and will be in effect until the new gender-neutral AIT screening technology is deployed.
- Making TSA PreCheck more inclusive: TSA will update its TSA PreCheck program this year to include an “X” gender marker option on its application to ensure the TSA PreCheck system accurately reflects traveler gender and keeps pace with identity documents that offer the “X” gender marker option, including U.S. passports beginning April 11.
- Expanding airline partnerships to enhance the overall travel experience: TSA is working closely with air carriers across the nation to promote the use and acceptance of the “X” gender marker to ensure more efficient and accurate passenger processing.
- Streamlining identity validation: TSA updated its checkpoint SOP to remove gender considerations when validating a traveler’s identification at airport security checkpoints. This ensures that TSOs can accurately and efficiently validate an individual’s identity while avoiding unnecessary delays caused by a mismatch in gender information on the boarding pass and identification document (e.g., driver’s license or passport) and/or the gender presentation of the traveler.
- Facilitating effective communication at U.S. ports of entry and beyond: CBP has provided a job aid and memorandum to all staff that will serve as a guide for facilitating effective communication with the diverse public CBP serves, including LGBTQI+ individuals. The guidance includes using gender-neutral language and an individual’s self-identified pronouns and name.
- Updating Trusted Travel Programs to align with the U.S. Department of State’s passport options: CBP will soon issue a Federal Register Notice for public comment to evaluate whether to update the Trusted Traveler Programs application form to add an “X” gender marker option.
For more information about TSA’s related policies, click here.