Biometrics and Trans

Posted by – April 18, 2012

Here’s an interesting TruthOut article on the impact that biometric scanning has had on trans people and others whose gender presentations don’t “match” their physical body.

This story is about people, not their anatomy, except that in the case of airport scanners, this last vestige of individual privacy is on the table. Transgender people’s experiences vary as widely as the human mind and body, but trans communities have mapped out some common ground in language, experience and even documents such as the Transgender Law Center’s (TLC) fact sheet, Trans 101. The title might be considered a nod to the ad hoc teaching gig some trans people are thrust into simply by virtue of their identities – Is that your real name? Did you have a sex change? Why should I let you onto this flight? – and for a two-page crash course, it goes a long way in dispelling gendered assumptions that underlie security measures like body scanners and Secure Flight.

According to TLC, “Transgender people (very broadly conceived) are those of us whose gender identity and/or expression that does not or is perceived to not match stereotypical gender norms associated with our assigned gender at birth…. Some [transgender people] take hormones but have no surgery or vice versa. Some take low-doses of hormones or go on and off. For some trans people, altering genitalia is important. For others, it is not.”

I’ve written previously about the most recent information about traveling while trans, but this is a sobering report.

1 Comment on Biometrics and Trans

  1. JennL says:

    Quite an interesting dilemma, and very broad in scope. I wonder if the all the investment in the technology and culture of security is as sound as investing in finding ways to develop a more inclusive and tolerant community?

    In the short term I would tend to adopt ex governor Jesse Ventura’s assessment that he would rather just accept the small amount of additional risk now faced than sacrifice the freedoms once had.

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