Lashed Out: Why Airport Security May Seize Your Falsies
Lashed Out: Why Airport Security May Seize Your Falsies - When Beauty Gets You in Trouble
Getting dolled up for a flight can sometimes lead to trouble at airport security. For many travelers, a glamorous vacation look involves false eyelashes, hair extensions, prosthetic body parts, and other beauty enhancements that may raise TSA eyebrows. While no one wants to arrive at their destination looking less than flawless, fliers need to be aware of regulations regarding appearance-altering items. You may end up losing your lashes — or your cool — if you’re not prepared for enhanced screening.
False eyelashes and hair extensions are common triggers for additional scrutiny. They can obstruct security scanner images, prompting invasive pat-downs to verify there's nothing dangerous attached. Acrylic nails may also invite closer inspection, as they can hinder fingerprint scans. For trans travelers, prosthetic breasts or padding can appear suspicious.
Even minor augmentations like push-up bras have caused issues. Overly-ample cleavage has been known to look like a concealed object on body scanners. For those who've undergone breast enhancement surgery, underwire bras may also lead to embarrassing pat-downs. Travelers report feeling violated when screeners grope their breasts to determine if they're real.
But it's not just vanity items that can lead to trouble. Mobility devices like prosthetic limbs, canes, knee braces, and corsets are also regularly flagged. Travelers with disabilities and medical conditions say they're frequently singled out for awkward, invasive screening. Those wearing ostomy bags and urinary cathethers especially dread going through security.
What else is in this post?
- Lashed Out: Why Airport Security May Seize Your Falsies - When Beauty Gets You in Trouble
- Lashed Out: Why Airport Security May Seize Your Falsies - Screeners Suspicious of Suspiciously Perky Patdowns
- Lashed Out: Why Airport Security May Seize Your Falsies - Travelers Traumatized by TSA Fondling
- Lashed Out: Why Airport Security May Seize Your Falsies - Are Airport Scanners Really that Revealing?
- Lashed Out: Why Airport Security May Seize Your Falsies - “Ma’am, Please Remove Your...” - Awkward Encounters at Security
Lashed Out: Why Airport Security May Seize Your Falsies - Screeners Suspicious of Suspiciously Perky Patdowns
For travelers with breast implants, underwire bras can be problematic. The wiring may obstruct scanner imaging, prompting an intimate physical search to verify nothing is being concealed. Refusing a patdown means you don't fly, so women with enhanced cleavage may find their breasts being aggressively groped by skeptical staff.
Even push-up bras can cause issues, as anything resembling a hidden object under clothing warrants further inspection. One mortified mother was attempting to board a flight when TSA noticed her boosted bustline. Despite scanning with no alarms, a female agent was called to thoroughly check her bra contents. With two young kids looking on, the woman endured public fondling she found traumatizing.
Trans women also report extremely uncomfortable encounters related to their augmented breasts. Many have been ordered to publicly remove prosthetics, outing them in front of other passengers. Invasive patdowns have left some in tears, feeling violated and degraded. Though procedures may be standard, many feel they're carried out with unnecessary aggression due to gender bias.
Travelers who've undergone mastectomies also dread screening. Despite medical explanations and doctors' notes, they've been forced to show agents post-surgical scars. Being made to prove their prosthetics are breast forms has caused deep humiliation. While essential to security, many feel highly personal scrutiny goes too far.
Lashed Out: Why Airport Security May Seize Your Falsies - Travelers Traumatized by TSA Fondling
Many travelers have been left traumatized by intrusive TSA screening procedures that feel tantamount to sexual assault. While regulations permit thorough patdowns to detect potential threats, some report highly uncomfortable encounters that cross personal boundaries. For those with disabilities and medical devices, the experience can be especially dehumanizing.
Breast cancer survivors speak of deeply humiliating screening ordeals, where despite doctor's notes, they are made to expose mastectomy scars to prove implants are prosthetic. Others recount forceful groping during patdowns, leaving breasts painfully sore for days. The disabled community describes equivalent violations; those with catheters and colostomy bags feel profound shame having their most private medical issues scrutinized.
Transgender travelers endure some of the worst treatment. Many have been ordered to publicly remove breast forms, effectively being forced "out" in front of strangers, leading to panic attacks. Invasive body searches have left some in tears, feeling targeted and assaulted due to their gender expression. Even those with legitimate medical documentation stating their need for prosthetics must endure skeptical questioning by screeners.
While parents appreciate efforts to keep flights safe, several report witnessing TSA agents taking excessive liberties with children during patdowns. Young travelers are frequently distressed by overly thorough touching from strangers, despite posing no obvious threat.
With security cameras rolling, there's little recourse in the moment when screeners cross personal boundaries. Refusing invasive screening means forfeiting the right to board. Travelers feel violated and powerless when there's no accountability for excessive force, humiliation, discrimination or assault. Many avoid flying altogether rather than subject themselves to the possibility of public molestation in the name of airline safety.
Lashed Out: Why Airport Security May Seize Your Falsies - Are Airport Scanners Really that Revealing?
Many travelers worry that airport body scanners are exposing far more than weapons or contraband. Full body imaging technology was introduced in 2007 as an alternative to physical patdowns, but privacy advocates have raised concerns about the level of anatomical detail visible. The TSA maintains images are distorted - not pornographic - yet some fliers insist scans reveal uncomfortably intimate biological details.
The two types of scanners currently used are millimeter wave and backscatter X-ray devices. Millimeter wave scanners bounce electromagnetic waves off passengers to construct 3D images identifying anomalies beneath clothing. Backscatter scanners use low-level X-rays to create reflections mapping the body surface. In both systems, human reviewers see the images in a remote location.
The TSA states these scanners blur faces and filter images to obscure sensitive body parts. But accounts from agents themselves dispute this. TSA officers have described colleagues laughing at graphic scans of overweight passengers and making inappropriate comments about travelers' genitals. One whistleblower revealed manipulated images still showed details like the size of male organs.
Some travelers who've seen scans firsthand corroborate agents' reports. Their accounts describe images vividly outlining breasts, revealing whether a man is circumcised, even discerning if a woman is menstruating based on her pad outline. Fliers describe feeling exposed and debased knowing agents are essentially seeing them naked. Lawsuits brought against the TSA by advocacy groups argue current scanners violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
Yet the TSA maintains millimeter wave and backscatter technology provides necessary detection capabilities with proper modesty filters in place. They say without body scanners, the alternative is far more personally invasive - physical frisking by agents. Though patdowns allow for front-of-body contact, the TSA points out they are conducted by a member of the same sex. They argue relative to strip searches or cavity exams performed by correctional staff, their procedures are minimally intrusive.
The bigger concern for some civil rights groups is not what scans uncover, but what images could potentially reveal about medical conditions or gender status of trans passengers. Though faces are blurred, fears persist that biometrics like body shape and proportions could be used to out transgender travelers or discriminate based on physical disability. Some activists say while safety is important, measures that compromise civil liberties send the wrong message.
Lashed Out: Why Airport Security May Seize Your Falsies - “Ma’am, Please Remove Your...” - Awkward Encounters at Security
Transgender travelers frequently find themselves singled out for awkward, uncomfortable encounters at airport security checkpoints. Though TSA guidelines prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, many report being misgendered, outed, or publicly humiliated during screening processes.
Candis Cayne, a transgender actress, described an upsetting experience traveling from Los Angeles to Hawaii. At the body scanner, an agent loudly called out “Sir, we need you to remove your prosthetics.” Though Candis quietly explained she is transgender, the agent insisted she publicly detach her silicone breast forms. With a line of passengers staring, Candis was forced to out herself simply to proceed through security.
Trans writer Veronica Lopez shares similar stories of being loudly misgendered then asked to take off her prosthetic breasts. On one occasion, Veronica was told she couldn’t fly unless she lifted her shirt and bra to prove implants weren’t hiding weapons. Feeling degraded and anxious, she complied, only to be mocked by laughing agents. Veronica says despite doctors notes affirming her gender, TSA consistently disrespects and humiliates her.
Inappropriate touching during patdowns is another area many trans travelers report. Agent ignorance about prosthetics means they are inspected and groped far more aggressively than necessary. Breast forms are squeezed and fondled in embarrassing, unwarranted ways. Travelers have been left in tears feeling violated, when a simple scan or light touch would have sufficed.
Even those following official guidelines find themselves singled out. Taylor Genovese, a trans woman, says though she carries a TSA-approved letter from her surgeon confirming her implants, she's still made to endure extensive searches. Taylor feels agents touch her as a punitive measure, knowing the humiliation it will cause. Their behavior leaves her feeling exposed, targeted, and unsafe.