Traveling with packer – What to Expect?
ALL FTM INDIVIDUALS ARE WORRIED ABOUT SECURITY CHECKS IN THE AIRPORT
We all dream about the perfect vacation, which is not ruined by any inconveniences at the airport... So, we decided to provide you some insights on what challenges occur while traveling with your packer.
First things first. Although the world is big and it seems that we can go anywhere and do anything, it is not quite true. Being FTM comes with a lot of challenges on a daily basis, so it is no surprise, that going on vacation raises one or two issues as well. It is very important to choose a safe location to travel to. It is very unfortunate, but there are still places, where being transgender may be dangerous. So, if possible, avoid the countries, where anti-transgender attitude is still considered to be normal.
After you choose your destination and make all the necessary arrangements, it is time to start planning the trip and thinking ahead of what you will need or what you will experience. It is very important to mention, that traveling with a packer in the baggage and with the packer on your body is very different. So, if you do not suffer from a strong case of gender dysphoria and you can put your packer in your baggage, then going through the airport security may be slightly easier. When packing your prosthetic into baggage, make sure it is packed in a bag, you can add the card, which indicates what is in the bag and you should be fine.
However, if you cannot take off your prosthetic due to the case of dysphoria and you need to travel with your packer on your body, this is what you need to know. While traveling with your packer, you may need to go through all three checking points in the airport (Metal detectors, body scanners, and the TSA pat-downs). You need to understand that these procedures are unpleasant but necessary for your safety.
If you need to go through Metal Detector this is what you should know. The Metal Detector only registers metal objects on your body, so there should not be any problems for you if you are wearing your silicone prosthetic correctly. Just make sure that your harness does not have any metal details, to avoid unpleasant situations. Also, keep in mind, that many of the airports now are replacing their Metal Detectors with Body Scanners (aka Millimeter Wave Scanners), so there is a good chance that you will have to go through the Body Scanner.
BODY SCANNER AKA MILLIMETER WAVE SCANNER
To be honest, Body Scanners are not the most pleasant thing for transgender travelers and they can cause a number of unpleasant situations. The Full Body Scanner principle is quite simple – TSA agent places a passenger to the scanner, then presses the button determining the gender (male/female) and then the machine scans the person and when the data is compared to the anatomy standards it indicates the body part which needs a closer inspection. The main problem is that the machine registers every deviation from the anatomical norms as an abnormality and immediately requires further inspection of the indicated body part. So if you are wearing a binder or a packer, or if you do not pack, but look quite masculine, there is a big chance that the body scanner will register abnormalities and you will be subjected to a pat-down from the TSA officers to determine if any prohibited or dangerous items are present. So, if you need to go through the full Body Scanner, unfortunately, there is a good chance you will need to go through the pat-down as well.
Many LGBTQ travelers are reporting the issues with this process, because due to limited gender-binary settings of the machine, many gender non-conforming, transgender, queer people are subjected to the pat-downs, as the machine registers abnormalities. Although it is for everyone‘s security, it is a really unpleasant, humiliating process, which in some cases may even cause mental problems. Therefore, it is very important to prepare yourself for all the scenarios, remain calm, and hope that in the future the process will be reevaluated and necessary changes will be made to make it as comfortable as possible for transgender travelers.
So, what to do if you need to go through the pat-down? The first thing you need to do if you were selected for the pat-down is to take a few deep breaths and stay calm. We do understand that there is nothing pleasant about being touched by a stranger, but it is their job so the faster you allow them to pat you down, the sooner this part will be over. TSA states, that to reduce the unpleasant experiences for the travelers, they are patted-down by the same gender TSA officers, as the travelers and this is where it gets tricky for the transgender travelers. There are multiple instances, where transgender travelers were subjected to pat-downs by one TSA officer, then after the realization that they are trans, the officer was replaced by another, etc. Our advice is to stay calm and explain that your gender identity is different from the one on the paperwork and you would like to be patted-down by male/female officers instead. It is also important to note, that if public pat-downs are too unpleasant, you have a right to ask for a private screening and you can also bring a witness with you to the private screening if it makes you more comfortable.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TSA AGENTS?
First of all, you need to remember, that they are responsible for the security and they take their job very seriously. This is why, you need to make sure, that you communicate with them calmly and if you have any issues – that you explain the situation as clearly as possible. Most of the situations are resolved easily if they are clearly explained and the communication is respectful on both sides.
It is also important to know, what rights do you have during these processes and what you can be asked to do without violating your rights. First of all, you are not required to remove or lift a part of clothing, which reveals your prosthetic. You should not be asked to reveal or remove your prosthetic, so if TSA officer does that – you have a right to ask to speak to the manager and explain the situation. TSA agents always have to warn you about the actions they are going to perform and they have to ask you if you prefer to be patted down by male or female agent. If you are still worried, you can prepare in advance a Notification Card, which explains your situation and you can pass it to the officers before the pat-down. If you notice any violations or at some point feel threatened, please feel free to document and report the issues to the proper channels at the airport.
Below you will find the list of countries, where all sex toys are banned. As the prosthetic is also considered to be a sex toy, unfortunately, while traveling to any country listed below with it, you would be breaking the law. The punishments in these countries for breaking the law are very strict including large fines and utilization of the prosthetic, deportation, or even going to jail. So, make sure you are not risking your life by taking your packer with you before you travel!
Central African Republic
Papua New Guinea
Turks and Caicos Islands
United Arab Emirates
Most of the transgender FTM's successfully travel without any issues, however, it is better to be prepared and well informed about the process to avoid unnecessary stress. Just make sure you arrive early, stay calm, be prepared for any unpleasant situation. Make sure you take care of yourself properly and do not break the law unintentionally. Safe travels!
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