Well, hello there! My name is Lawrence, and I'm a transman. Lawrence is not a pseudonym (though it's also not my legal name), but as I hope you can tell, this is a pseudopic. I'm not putting a picture up because I'm trying to keep more control of who I am out to, but if you think you know me in person based on what I write, feel free to approach me and ask. I find it emotionally exhausting to tell people, but it's comforting when people know, and if you're the one bringing it up I'll know that any freak-outs have already happened where I won't have to deal with them.
Also, Ping is pretty much The Best. I watched that movie eight thousand times as a kid trying to figure out why Mulan chose to be Mulan when she could have been Ping. (Realising I was trans meant suddenly understanding like 80% of my childhood obsessions. Alanna! Ozma! Mulan! These stories have something in common!)
However, I actually have a specific topic I want to write about today, and it's pretty serious: the goddamn TSA. If you haven't heard about what they're up to these days, Jeffrey Goldberg has a pretty good introduction.
The short version: if you get randomly selected for additional screening, you have a choice between having the TSA use a machine to look at your naked body and take photos of it-- naked photos which are not secure from being saved and leaked-- and having your junk and/or boobs groped. The TSA has been brushing the backs of their hands over boobs for years, but it is now done with the front of the hand, and they have to feel under the breasts, too. Also, they're going to run their hands up your legs until they meet "resistance."
Imagine you're transgendered for a second. Which way would you prefer to be outed? Detailed photographs of your genitals, or a good old-fashioned grope? Remember, if they don't like your naked photo, they can force you to put up with the grope anyway!
I actually plan to opt out of the backscatter machine, and put up with the groping, but it's a complicated decision for me. I've made this choice because this way nobody will actually see my body, and because I hope it will annoy the hell out of the TSA. But then, I do not believe I will be in danger, because everyone will assume I'm a girl anyway. If people actually saw me as a man, I'd... well, I probably wouldn't fly in or out of the U.S. anymore.
The thought of a stranger handling my breasts brings up all my most violent feelings of body-hatred. To be blunt, it makes me want to cut the damn things off, or at least bind for the next thousand years. But binding would probably be "suspicious", and my parents would definitely notice and freak out. So I'm going to wear a damn bra, and let them touch me, and try not to be sick, because I know that the TSA is only doing these invasive pat-downs to bully people into accepting the backscatter imaging devices, and I refuse to be bullied.
It's definitely easier to just let them take your picture. It doesn't feel any different than going through a metal detector, really. It definitely feels less invasive than having someone touch you. But a stranger is still looking at your naked body, and I don't know about you, but I thought I was supposed to have civil liberties protecting me from that.
There is no reason for these machines to exist. There's no proof they would have prevented the attempt that supposedly necessitated them (which, let's remember, failed.) They endanger transgendered fliers by outing them in potentially-hostile environments (Don't think it's dangerous? Four words: Transgender Day of Remembrance.) They also take explicit pictures of children's genitals, which I thought we'd agreed was a Bad Thing.
Opting out of the machine is the best way to bully them back; if enough people do it, the one selling point of the machines-- convenience-- will be negated. So, if you're flying home for Thanksgiving, and you get selected for additional screening... think about opting out.
If I can do it, you can do it. Seriously.