The security theater of the Transportation Safety Administration just got a brand new prop — I mean, implemented a new security measure — at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. CVG rolled out the first batch of its full-body scanners March 31.
The scanners, which use X-rays to detect hidden objects without physical contact, have come under fire because the image created by the X-rays is that of a nearly naked passenger with a blurred face.
Passengers can decline a body scan, but they will be subject to pat-downs and possibly other searches.
Luckily, when I was recently flying out of CVG, the body scanners were not yet in place, but TSA workers were already implementing procedures for using the scanners, like taking off belts.
Implementing the scanners is just implementing a new hassle on travelers. They are an invasion of privacy and will likely not make air travel any safer. All of these security measures — like removing shoes and placing liquids in a quart-size bag — are reactive and someone dead-set on doing harm will find a way around them. Security is usually two steps behind terrorists.
Not to mention, a pat-down limits where a TSA agent can touch an individual and the scanners cannot see inside of someone.
Body scanners can also create even more issues for transgender people when undergoing airport security:
Whole body imaging scanners produce a three-dimensional image of the passenger’s nude body, including breasts, genitals, buttocks, prosthetics, binding materials and any objects on the person’s body, in an attempt to identify contraband. These scanners may out transgender people to TSA staff and potentially subject transgender people to further screening at the airports.
My personal experience with airport security makes me feel more hassled than safe. When I was flying over the weekend, I took off my boots to put them through the X-ray machine and stopped to adjust my socks before walking through the metal detector.
A TSA agent asked me what I was putting in my sock and I explained that I was just adjusting it after removing my boots. The agent let me through, no further questions asked. While I was happy she didn’t make me go through additional screening, if she really thought I was hiding something in my socks, she should have at least made me take them off.
I have very little faith in the TSA. The only thing it could secure is an annoying start to my flight.