There are many reasons to be stressed while travelling, but being subjected to an inappropriate pat down during security shouldn’t be one of them. CNN political commentator Angela Rye has started a public conversation on social media following what she feels was an unnecessary and inappropriate pat down while flying from Detroit to New York City last Thursday.
Though Rye is a cleared traveller with TSA PreCheck and walked through the scanner without setting the machine off, she details in her Twitter feed that she was still subjected to additional random screening that included having her pelvic region patted down. She insisted on a second scan in place of a pat down, but was denied and told she could either comply or be escorted out of the airport and miss her flight.
Rye asked another officer to film the pat down, with the video showing a female officer patting down her body, including reaching under her dress. The video is difficult to watch and ends with Rye left in tears.
— Angela Rye! (@angela_rye) December 16, 2016
Rye expanded on her experience with an opinion piece on CNN.com, writing in detail about the event and saying that she is concerned about what a pat down like this could trigger for survivors of sexual assault.
After sharing her story, other travellers began coming forward with their own stories of invasive pat downs while using the hashtag #TSAVaginaMonologues.
And when I was 12 it was a man TSA officer that searched me. My step mom was there. He didnt even apologize. #TSAVaginaMonologues
— Robyn Marie (@robyn_marie25) December 16, 2016
— justJolie (@JolieRancher) December 16, 2016
— Jane Esq. (@JaneTheDragon) December 16, 2016
While security checks are of course necessary and imperative to the safety of all travellers and airport employees, Rye says on her Twitter feed that she hopes by sharing her video and opening up a dialogue, the TSA will conduct “better, less physically invasive screening.”
The CATSA site specifies that a physical search “is always conducted in the most professional and respected manner possible” and “is usually performed over clothing, though the screening officer may need to move, shift or slightly lift clothing during the search.”
The TSA site stipulates under the Pat Down Screening section of their site that travellers “will not be asked to remove or lift any article of clothing to reveal sensitive body areas.”
“Travelers concerned about the screening process may ask for a passenger support specialist who can provide on-the-spot help [if faced by a situation similar to Rye’s],” said TSA PR Representative Mike England.
Both the TSA and CATSA also state on their websites that anyone may request for a pat down in a private room, where another TSA agent will be present to act as a witness–just so you know.