Tag Archives: airport security

Regulation of the Day 210: Transgendered Air Travelers

Canada is cracking down on the latest terrorist threat to innocent people everywhere: transgendered people. A July 2011 provision added to the Canadian Aeronautics Act’s Identity Screening Regulations says, “An air carrier shall not transport a passenger… who does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents.”

Suppose someone was born female but lives life as a male. If his valid government-issued photo ID still identifies him as female, he may not board an airplane. It can take years of filling out forms and enduring hearings to convince courts to legally recognize that someone has crossed genders, as the economist Deirdre McCloskey (formerly Donald) movingly writes in her autobiography, Crossing. The result is a de facto ban on flying for most transgendered Canadians.

Dennis Lebel is Canada’s Transportation Minister. He supports the ban. He believes it increases passenger safety.

It doesn’t, actually. Here’s why. A passenger is a threat if he carries weapons or explosives on board. If he doesn’t, he’s not. This is true whether or not his appearance matches his ID, or whether it says “M” or “F.” This is true even if the passenger uses a fake ID, or none at all. Can this person bring down a plane? That is the question.

In other words, showing ID has precisely nothing to do with passenger safety. It’s all for show. The point is if you have weapons and explosives or not.

Lebel and the Canadian security screeners who work for him should keep this in mind. The nasty little provision may or may not be specifically targeted at gender crossers. But in practice it is discrimination, and it does not make air travelers any safer. If anything, by distracting screeners from searching for weapons and explosives, it makes passengers a little less safe. This is bad policy all around. It should be repealed immediately.

TSA Saves Country from Diabetic, Pregnant Terrorist

A pregnant woman who suffers from diabetes got into trouble with the TSA in Denver. They allowed her to take through her needles and syringes. But they confiscated her insulin, claiming it was an explosives risk.

The woman and her husband have filed a formal complaint with the TSA. She spoke to Denver’s ABC affiliate on condition of anonymity; as a frequent traveler, she fears retaliation.

In Other TSA News…

TSA officials recently performed a bomb drill at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and didn’t tell anyone about it in advance. Local police surrounded a TSA-employed “bomber” with guns drawn before someone finally told them it was only a drill. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

A spokeswoman says that TSA will “ensure the correct procedures will be followed in the future.”

Time will tell.

TSA Gropes 8-Year Old Boy

He could have been a terrorist, you see.

TSA Gropes 6-Year Old Girl

Sometimes people wonder why I favor abolishing the TSA outright and putting airlines in charge of their own security. One reason is incentives. If airlines don’t keep people safe, they go out of business. That’s a powerful incentive to have high standards.

The TSA’s incentives aren’t geared towards performance — and it shows. Instead, its incentives are geared toward growing its budget and expanding its mission.

That’s the primary intellectual argument. But some reasons for getting rid of the TSA are more visceral. This video of a TSA agent groping a 6-year old girl shows one of them.

Where Are the TSA’s Full-Body Scanners?

Here is the TSA’s list of airports that use full-body scanners. Worth a look before your next flight.

Another TSA Indignity

This picture is its own argument for disbanding the TSA. Better to put security under the charge of people who actually have an incentive to maximize safety and minimize intrusiveness — airports and airlines. The TSA takes the opposite approach, as shown above. Original picture here.