Sunday, November 11, 2007

This Isn't About Being Transgendered

It's a Matter of Safety

My mom works for an airline.

"Want to hear something freaky that happened to me at work last night?" my mom asked me.

"By 'freaky' do you mean 'racist?'" I replied. Mom's not racist, but being in the airline industry tends to lead her stories in uncouth directions.

She paused a moment & considered this. Contemplative. "No, not racist, just freaky. I was checking in a, well, what I thought was a man...."

"Oh! By 'freaky' you mean 'sexist.'" I wasn't being argumentative & snide, just annoyed.

"Well, I thought he was a man. I welcomed him to the kiosk & asked for his passport. He handed it to me & I thought he was pulling a prank: it was a woman in the passport picture. He gave me this 'Yeah,' look & stood in silence."

Dad & I stared at her with confused eyes. "And?"

"But it wasn't the person in front of me. The man standing there had short black hair & some facial hair. A beard. No, not a full beard, but an ugly chinstrap like you used to have."

Thanks, Mom.

"He was a man. But the woman in the passport had long blonde hair. And was a woman!"

"What was the name?" Dad asked.

"Anna Alexander SomethingGreekApolis."

"Mister or misses?"



"So did you let him on the flight?"

"I mean, yeah. There was a similarity in his, her, eyes & mouth so it had to be the same person. I didn't know what else to do, so I send him on to security."

"You didn't ask for another form of ID?!" Dad exploded.

"No! I didn't know what do! I whispered to my supervisor & all he did was..::she offered his reaction: a non-committal "go-ahead" hand motion & "meh" sound effect::."

"He didn't care?! That's terrifying!"

"This is like an old man picking up a teenager's passport & using it to travel. Or a white guy using a Black guy's!"

Dad had a point.

In a way it's no different than my brother Nick traveling with my passport. Internationally. We look similar enough, but we're certainly not the same person. Should travelers be required to show another form of identification if what they're offering face-to-face looks nothing like their offered form of ID? Most definitely. Is that request out of the bounds of the ticket agent, bouncer, or liqueur salesperson? No way. Should Mom's kiosk be trained on how to properly ID transgendered, transsexual, or any shape-shifting passenger? For sure.

Nick should not be attending all the hottest & noisiest clubs with my license.
Sammy Stranger should not be drinking up a hefty tab on my credit card.
Michelle's 15-year-old brother should not be jet setting to Puerto Rico on her passport.
Anna Alexander, a man, should not be traveling internationally with a woman's passport & go unquestioned.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

That's unbelievable! After Mister Sister got his shiny new penis, he should have sprung for all new ID photos. No wonder your poor mom was confused.

And that's my two cents.

(Also, I feel like I would love your mom's airport stories. Just saying.)