The Port of Seattle is committed to ensuring that all travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) feel respected, comfortable and welcome. Here’s more information for transgender travelers coming through SEA Airport.
Transgender travelers should feel free to use whichever restroom matches your gender presentation. SEA Airport has individual gender-inclusive restrooms for your use, and we have a map of these restrooms. The airport is currently in the process of updating the signage, so feel free to use restrooms marked either “family restrooms” or “individual restrooms.”
Screening for departing passengers is conducted by the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Here are a few tips for a successful travel experience.
Medical equipment and prosthetics will be allowed through the TSA checkpoint, but some travelers may feel more comfortable putting these things in checked baggage. Gel-filled prosthetic items such as breast forms are not included in the three-ounce liquid limit for carry-ons, but their presence in your carry-on luggage may result in extra screening. Any medications should be placed in a separate bag in your carry-on luggage; it is very helpful to have proof of the medical necessity of the item(s), such as a doctor’s letter or pharmacy packaging that includes a prescription label.
If you think you might be required to undergo additional screening, one option for discreetly communicating with TSA personnel is to use a preprinted “Notification Card” to disclose a particular personal item, medical condition, or other information. The TSA has made a template for this card available that TSA agents will immediately recognize.
All passengers 18 years of age or older are required to provide proof of identity at check-in and at the security checkpoint. TSA rules require that you provide your name, gender, and date of birth when making an airline reservation. The name, gender, and date of birth included in your reservation must match the government-issued photo ID you will provide at the airport. If you have different names or genders listed on different ID, bring photo ID that matches your reservation. It does not matter whether your current gender presentation matches the gender marker on your ID or your presentation in your ID photo, and TSA officers should not comment on this.
Airport Body Scanners
All TSA scanners are now equipped with software called Automatic Target Recognition (ATR), which analyzes the scan image of the body and displays an outline of a generic person with the location of anything the software identifies as an “anomaly” or "alarm." ATR software can register body contours not typical for a person’s gender as anomalies. Foreign objects such as prosthetics, binding garments, or even paper or change left in a pocket will commonly register as anomalies requiring further screening. Often this consists of a limited pat-down of the area(s) where an anomaly was detected; however it can potentially involve a complete pat-down. You may opt out of scans at any time, but you will be required to undergo a thorough pat-down.
If you choose a pat-down to avoid the scanning machines or if the TSA agents require one for another reason, the pat-down must be performed by an officer of the same gender as the traveler. This is based on your gender presentation; the gender listed on your identification documents and boarding passes should not matter for pat-downs, and you should not be subjected to personal questions about your gender. If TSA officers are unsure who should perform the pat-down, they should ask you discreetly.
Travelers should never be required to lift, remove, or raise an article of clothing to reveal a prosthetic item and should not be asked to remove it. This applies to binding items, breast forms, and other prosthetics. Wigs or hairpieces do not usually require additional screening, but this may be required if they are considered "bulky" or "not form-fitting."
Screening Procedures for Children
The TSA has adopted modified screening procedures for passengers under age 12 that include:
- Allowing them to leave their shoes on
- Using a wand to detect chemical traces in lieu of a pat-down
- Undergoing a modified and less-intrusive pat-down under the observation of their parents if necessary
You may request a private screening or to speak to a supervisor at any time during the security screening process. Screening can be conducted in a private screening area with a witness or companion of the traveler’s choice..
If you encounter any issues, politely ask to speak to a supervisor immediately. Never raise your voice or threaten TSA staff.
Discrimination at the Airport
If you feel you have experienced discrimination, you have the right to file a complaint. Here are two ways to do that.
1. File a Complaint Online
Both the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have separate civil rights offices that accept complaints of discriminatory treatment by TSA.
You may file a complaint with one or both offices at the web sites below:
- A form for filing complaints with the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties can be found at http://www.dhs.gov/file-civil-rights-complaint
- A form for filing complaints with the TSA Office for Civil Rights and Liberty can be found at http://www.tsa.gov/contact-center/form/civil_rights_liberties
We encourage you to file complaints immediately after the incident (or as soon as you can), and provide as many details as possible, including:
- the name of the airport
- the screening location within the airport
- the date and time of the incident
- a list of people involved.
2. File a Complaint via App
FlyRights is a free app available for iPhone and Android smartphones that enables you to to immediately file a report of discrimination with TSA and DHS. Learn more about FlyRights.
Additional Information and Resources
- TSA Transgender Passengers page: https://www.tsa.gov/transgender-passengers
- TSA Advanced Imaging Technology Overview: http://www.tsa.gov/data/guide/ait.html
- TSA Civil Rights Complaint information: http://www.tsa.gov/contact-center/form/civil_rights_liberties
- Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: http://www.dhs.gov/file-civil-rights-complaint
- FlyRights App for iPhone and Android: http://fly-rights.org/