This month TSA has instituted new regulations for travelers in an attempt to make flying safer. Now all passengers are required to pass through an x-ray body scanner as part of security. These body scanners have been referred to as a "virtual strip search" because they transmit an image of the passenger, naked, to a screen in another room for a TSA agent to inspect.
Travelers may opt out of the body scanner and choose, instead, to be given a pat down which involves a TSA agent passing his or her hand over every surface of your body, including breasts and groin. Passengers that qualify (qualifications seem to vary from airport to airport) will still get an intimate pat down after passing through the x-ray.
I object to the body scanner for two reasons. Firstly, because having a naked image of myself viewed by a stranger just doesn't sound ok to me and secondly, because I object to being subjected to any radiation that is not medically necessary, especially by machines that have not been the object of long term studies.
I object to having a stranger's hands in my clothes for obvious reasons.
So what choice do I have? I feel like I've become TSA's crack whore. My lifestyle involves flying and to keep up that lifestyle I have to either submit to a nude photograph or to being groped. It's humiliating and fills me with dread for the future. What next? Complete strip searches? Orifice checks?
Today was National Opt Out Day, where travelers around the country chose to opt out of body scanners with the goal of raising awareness of the amount of privacy being sacrificed in the name of safety. Today is over, but you can still visit Fly With Dignity to learn more about the movement, sign a petition, and find out what you can do to instigate change.
As for me? We've already bought our tickets to Oregon for Christmas, so it looks like I'll be getting felt up. But next time? Maybe we'll be looking at trains.