Vaginal Discourse

On Monday, I heard an NPR piece about the new, “less revealing” full body scanners TSA in rolling out. As a radical, queer, feminist trans woman who teaches environmental science, my ears perked up when I heard a TSA spokesperson say the following:

After someone comes through the machine, they see the very same thing that the officer sees. And that is, no image of a passenger but instead a generic outline of a human body indicating where the anomaly is. [Emphasis mine]

Anomaly, eh?

Noun
anomaly (plural anomalies)
1. A deviation from a rule or from what is regarded as normal.

Oh, the academic discussions I’ve had over what constitutes “normal” and/or “natural.” While I think I get what the spokesperson was saying (explosives are unacceptably deviant), I have to say the whole piece troubled me.

Yesterday, Bilerico reported on the scanners, citing the National Center for Transgender Equality’s concerns:

Pink and blue buttons appear to be used to commence scanning for travelers. It appears that TSA officers need to select a pink or blue “scan” button based on their perception of a traveler’s gender. The new software may identify “anomalies” based on gender-atypical anatomy, rather than only targeting foreign objects. This may be a security trigger which would lead to an invasive pat-down, potentially embarrassing questions and in some cases, biased harassment. NCTE urges the TSA to provide greater clarity for the public on how the new scans work.

Pink and blue buttons? Are you fucking kidding me? That’s not good at all.

The software changes also don’t address the concerns of other groups. It may help or hinder travel for people who carry medically necessary devices or for people of certain faith traditions. For example, questions remain about how the new software detects medical devices like urine pouches, or religious wear like the kirpan, an ornamental weapon, required to be worn by orthodox Sikhs.

Damn straight. I find our security state unacceptable, period. As is always the case, the oppressive burden of “protecting” society is falling on those of us whom society deems as unacceptably deviant. No amount of re-tooling is going to change that fact.