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To understand the extent of the problem, Pro Publica reviewed publicly available complaint data from the TSA’s website and asked transgender travelers to provide accounts of their experiences at airport checkpoints.

The review, which covered civil rights complaints filed from January 2016 through April 2019, found that 5%, or 298 complaints, were related to screening of transgender people, even though they are estimated to make up slightly less than 1% of the population.

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When she stepped out, a female Transportation Security Administration officer approached.

Soon after, three other TSA officers, all of them women and at least one of them a supervisor, entered the room, Olivia said. Tell your friends to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

TSA rules require that passengers be searched by officers of the same gender as they present.

Olivia said she started crying and pleaded with the officers. But Olivia said the officers in the room with her did not object when Olivia pulled her ruffled, black and white skirt and underwear down to her ankles. What happened that day traumatized Olivia, who is now fearful of airports, and what she experienced reflects the worst fears of many transgender travelers, who say the TSA is failing them.

Shortcomings in the technology used by the TSA and insufficient training of the agency’s staff have made transgender and gender nonconforming travelers particularly vulnerable to invasive searches at airport checkpoints, interviews and a review of documents and data shows.

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