In a new lawsuit, Jamii Erway describes the horrific situation she faced at the Raleigh Durham airport back in 2019 when she was the victim of a ‘false positive’ result at the TSA security checkpoint. At the time, Erway, who is transgender, was just 15 years old. Due to the flagging, TSA told her that in order to enter the terminal, she’d have to undergo a strip search and genital search.
According to The News and Observer, “A 2019 ProPublica report examined the TSA’s civil rights complaints over a three-year period and found that 5%, or 298 complaints, involved transgender people, far higher than their estimated share of the U.S. population.”
Erway’s lawsuit states that as the situation escalated, extra police presence was brought over and this caused increased anxiety and panic. For a transgender teenager who is just trying to get on a plane, this anxiety was more than justified. Now, Erway and her mother are suing the TSA in order to make sure this situation can’t happen to another trans person.
However, due to 9/11 and America’s continual fear of airplane-related terrorist attacks, the success of the lawsuit could be hindered. Erway’s lawyers will need to argue that air travel will be able to remain safe even without being able to strip search people that the machine’s flag. However, this lawsuit could also lead to new, and potentially better, means of security scanning.
According to ABC News, the TSA has declined to comment on the situation.