The act of traveling can be far more adventurous than the destination.
It’s 3:30 in the morning and I’d only just gotten off my ambulance shift. Sitting in the back of an Uber ride down I-94 towards O’Hare Airport nearly lulls me to sleep with the absence of cars and the amber lights passing above. Still, my eyes are bright and eager to board the plane that would take me to Disney World!
Pay for the Uber, no problem. Check my bag, no problem. The airport is eerily empty, including the TSA security line.
Approaching the scanner, I tug my kicks off, tossing them into a plastic bin along with my wallet, phone, and keys. I meticulously organized my backpack by following every single rule in order to pass through security quickly and painlessly.
With a warm smile, I nod excitedly to the TSA Agent as I step into the body scanner. Arms up, don’t move, step out. Without even thinking, I just start moving to grab my belongings, but a hand touches my shoulder. Looking up, the bald agent shakes his head. “I need you step over here, please,” he demands quietly. Without hesitation, I comply.
He pats me down three times. My heart is pounding to the rhythm of Orcish war drums. What did I do wrong?! I can tell the agent is nervous, which makes me nervous. I’m being told to step into the machine again, and again until the agent signals for a female agent.
“I’m sorry, but did I do something wrong?” No answer.
She beckons me to follow her a few feet away from the machine and pulls me in close.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but are you female?” She asks, her voice hush as if inviting me to a very private conversation. “Biologically, yes, but I’m transgendered. All my documents are in my legal — ” she cuts me off and nods. It takes her several minutes to explain how the other agent assumed I was male (which is what I identify as) and entered it into the machine which scanned for male parts. It kept flagging me for carrying something on my chest, you know, boob bombs. It seems like a silly policy to have to out myself publicly before using the body scanner, but no one was rude or judgemental and I got a good chuckle out of the incident.
After one more scan under my biologically assigned sex, it proved that my boobs were not bombs and I was allowed to continue on my adventure to Disney World with new insight and a new story to share.