Flying can be chaos, and being trans can make it just a bit more complicated.
I flew home for Thanksgiving, thank goodness. (Two days of driving within five is tiring.) I was on a late flight, and the hour and a half car ride to the airport turned out to be more like two and a half because the interstate was packed. By the time I got to the airport I was already jittery from cutting it close; I hastily said ‘goodbye’ to my parents and booked it inside.
I headed down the escalators and made a beeline for security, even though my bladder was threatening to burst. I’ve had a lot of practice holding my pee, and I didn’t want to chance missing my flight. I was in luck. Not only was I able to make my flight, it was delayed for an two hours instead of one. Security didn’t take too long. The line was long and lots of flights were delayed so the TSA peeps were trying to move everyone through there pretty quick.
I’ve flown enough in the past year that I’m pretty familiar with going through airport security as a transperson. At my usual airport they have the body scanners. I walked into it and held my arms up, like you’re supposed to. I wasn’t surprised when they stopped me. I think a binder sets off the detector pretty often. I stood where they told me to and a woman TSA agent (whom I had ironically briefly mistaken as male) was standing in facing me. She took one look at me and held her hands up, taking a step back, “I can’t give you a pat-down.”
I didn’t say anything. It’s better not to if I’m passing – it just makes everything go a lot quicker. A half-second later a male TSA agent stepped in front of me. He spoke as though he was talking to someone a few years younger than me, calmly but authoritatively. “Hold your arms out.”
I did so. He gave a quick pat down underneath my armpits. “You’re good to go.”
I took a breather and made a secondary beeline for the bathroom. I felt a wave of relief wash over me because there was a family bathroom. Hallelujah.
I made a third beeline for the food court and got a slice of pizza, a few meatballs and a pink lemonade. I awkwardly carried it all, including my suitcase and backpack to the terminal. I tried to sit down, but I had too many things in my hands to take my pack off. I set my lemonade on top of my suitcase.
Stupid. Dumb, dumb, dumb. It promptly fell on the ground and spilled e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. I got up and went to the nearest bathroom. Obviously I wasn’t going to go in the women’s – I honestly pass pretty well until I start talking. Even in high school when I was still wearing skinny jeans people would sometimes run out of the bathroom if I was in there. (Good times, good times.. not.) I think airport bathrooms are the easiest to pass in. Everyone’s busy and hurrying, and no one knows or talks to each other. Anyway, I took the plunge and went in the men’s, trying my best not to garner too much attention by pulling a plethora of paper towels from the dispenser.
Those brown, thin paper towels. It took me no less than 5 trips, I kid you not. The whole time I was going back and forth this couple sitting where I was and watching my stuff kept encouraging me. After I finally finished sopping up my drink and my tears (just kidding. I’m not really that dramatic.. usually) one of the two guys had left and was getting back. He handed me a water bottle and said “I really hate when that happens.”
It made my day. Alone, at an airport, but someone I didn’t even know was there for me. I know I was out to them, since I had been talking a bit. I’d like to think that since we were all LGBT, they sort of had my back. But even if that had nothing to do with it, I know I met some really solid people that day.