Trans woman shares emotional video after being detained at airport

A transgender woman detailed her experience with being detained for 'being transgender' by airport security in a heartbreaking viral video.

Left: close up of the trans woman crying. Right: airport security staff

A trans woman has shared am emotional video describing her experience with being detained at an airport before boarding a flight to visit her family.

YouTube star Lilah Gibney was flying to visit her parents for Thanksgiving and was detained for being transgender, as she claims. In a video posted to Twitter, she said, “I know it’s so f**king dramatic to cry over a f**king airport, but it’s so annoying literally trans people have to go through this and get detained… I just can’t.”

In response to comments accusing her of exaggeration and lying, Lilah spoke about five security guards who pulled her into a room and patted her down.

After going through detainment on her own, Lilah was eventually let go and broke down crying. On Twitter, she wrote, “I’m sharing this so anyone who has or WILL experience this is not alone.”

Lilah’s experience with airport security is one reflected throughout the transgender community. In October 2018, an Irish trans woman spoke about a male security guard touching her breasts and misgendering her in a London airport. On Twitter, the woman said, “I was left shaking and humiliated after the ordeal. I couldn’t help but burst out crying in departures. I’m so upset.”

In August 2019, a ProPublica investigation highlighted that trans passengers are particularly vulnerable to invasive searches from airport security. As stated in the report, “The TSA says that it is committed to treating all travellers equally and respectfully. But while the agency has known about the problems for several years, it still struggles to ensure the fair treatment of transgender and gender-nonconforming people.”

Under the false name Olivia, a transgender woman spoke to ProPublica about how staff of the TSA pressured her into being patted down by a man. When she refused, the officer told her she could not board her flight. The experience has left her with a fear of airports. 

The TSA’s press secretary said that airport screenings are conducted “without regard to a person’s race, colour, sex, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability.” In February, the TSA rolled out a “transgender awareness” training online for its employees after receiving criticism by Congress. However, transgender and gender non-conforming people have seen little improvement.  

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