Following on the heels of our story about an LAX TSA agent reportedly berating a 15 year old girl for wearing clothing that the agent deemed too provocative, a friend contacted me about a similar TSA incident that happened to her last year.
Casey Taylor, someone I’ve known for years, tells me that last year at a major American airport she was scolded by a female TSA agent because Casey’s belly button inadvertently showed while she was putting her belt back on after passing through the X-ray machine.
I was once chastised by a female muslim TSA agent (mentioned only to indicate she was fully covered, including wearing a head covering), for my stomach showing when I was putting my belt back on. I was taken aback and angry at the inappropriateness, and the judgment — and for god’s sake, I was just putting my belt back on!
I left Casey’s mention of the agent’s Islamic dress in because it potentially goes to agent’s motivation, i.e., a TSA agent imposing their conservative religious views on a passenger. And that’s just as relevant in this case as it would be if a religious right TSA agent chastised someone for violating their biblical views (and you know we’d be all over them if they did).
I asked Casey at which airport, and when, this happened. She said it was definitely last year, but doesn’t recall which airport, though it was definitely a major American city. More from Casey:
She gave me a judge-y look and then said something along the lines of “cover up,” and pointed at my waist where I was re-dressing myself after un-belting for the X-ray thing. I asked her to repeat it, and she did (vs. backing down from it). It was exceptionally strange and disconcerting. I didn’t respond because I was in shock about what had just happened, and couldn’t think of what to do in the moment.
Mind you, the only reason Casey wasn’t “covered up” is because TSA made her take her belt off.
The TSA is a huge organization – one report said there were 58,000 employees – and personally, I’ve had really good experiences with the TSA when I fly. They’re nothing but courteous with me, especially when I fly with my dog (and only people traveling alone with a baby can fully appreciate just how nerve-wracking it is to go through airport security with a wriggling dog). And, in my experience, the TSA is far better than the crew we had working airport security before.
But as I noted in the other post, they’re in a position of power, and are a quasi-police entity, so it’s important that abuses be highlighted and corrected.