MENSTRUATION MATTERS

Image of backscatter X-rayThere’s an intense, important discussion going on at FWD/Forward about how the latest ramp-up of security theatre of air travel could affect persons with disabilities. Blogger Lauredhel points out that the following items all show up in a back-scatter x-ray produced by a full-body scanner:

  • Urinary catheters.
  • Incontinence pads.
  • Colostomy and ileostomy bags.
  • PEG feeding tubes.
  • Mastectomy prostheses.
  • Certain medication pumps and implanted ports, such as insulin pumps.
  • TENS machines.
  • Pacemakers.
  • The bodies, including genitalia, of transgender and intersex and genderqueer people.

Lauredhel notes, “All of these are the signs of bodies already marginalised. Some of these signs may be clear on current security screenings – some may not.” She explains how the resulting invasion of privacy is likely to be even more invasive than for able-bodied, cis-gendered, cissexual folks.

The list suggests that menstrual pads and tampons will also be visible. Will menstruating travelers be asked to confirm that they’re indeed menstruating? Will they be compelled to prove that item is really a tampon and not a concealed weapon? And what about menstruators who are transgender, intersex, genderqueer, or otherwise do not conform to conventional expectations about gender expression? Will they be subject to further interrogation or required to “prove” their sex?

If you didn’t already hate flying and the aggravation of TSA security theatre, you will.

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