Saturday, January 21, 2012

Seattle, Packers and the TSA

Seattle (no, I didn't get to go to the Space Needle)
This past week (Wednesday through Friday) I was in Seattle/Redmond, Washington for what was supposed to be a job interview on Thursday. I was advised before I flew out that there might be snow and was asked if I wanted to cancel. Since I'm not a pussy, I said no, that I'd fly out anyway and see how things went. As it turns out, Seattle is extremely ill prepared for snow and has basically no ability to plow anything so the six inches of snow they got were pretty apocalyptic for them. My interview was canceled for Thursday and rescheduled for Friday so I spent all day Thursday wandering around Redmond Town Center browsing their array of stores. I got a call Thursday night saying that my interview had been canceled Friday too and that I should just go home and they'd reschedule in a few weeks. I had dinner in the hotel restaurant with some other Microsoft candidates and then went back to my room to make some plans for tomorrow since my flight wasn't leaving until 10PM. Since Seattle seems like a very trans-friendly, sex-positive kind of area I decided to check out some of the sex shops online. I found one called Babeland that looked like they had a pretty good stock of FTM trans gear and decided to go look for a packer since I'd been wanting one for a while but wanted to get to handle them hands-one before making a purchase.

Dicks galore! (mine is the second from the left)
I called ahead to be sure they were open due to the snow, and talked for a bit with a guy named Drew before I showed up. I got there and started browsing, pleased to find that they had pretty much everything they said they had online. The staff was really friendly, and Drew talked with me a bit about what I might want to look for in a packer and harness. I settled on a small-size (really not small at all - about 5" flaccid) and a pair of packing underwear to keep it in place. I was so excited to wear it that I stuck the packer and underwear in the hoodie pocket went down the street a bit to get lunch at a place called the Honey Hole (the name makes me giggle). After ordering, I went into the bathroom and assembled it and re-dressed. It was an amazingly comforting feeling and instantly I felt more confident and right. I'm still working out the kinks, namely not making it look like I have a massive hard-on all the time, but I love the way it feels. 

I spent the rest of the day wearing my packer, going from the mall to stores and exploring the Seattle area. There wasn't too much to do besides that because it was raining and snowing and pretty shitty outside. By the time I got to the airport, I was so comfortable wearing my packer already that I pretty much forgot to take it off before I went through security. I also kind of wanted to see what would happen if I wore it through security. I figured it might be okay, that the backscatter machine might be able to shoot through it just like it was skin. 

I was wrong. 

"Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to bend over"...
I got pulled aside after I went through the machine and listened to the TSA lady radio that she needed a lady supervisor because of a "resolution" problem with the backscatter machine. She explained that there was something obscuring the machine's view of my groin area and they were going to have a lady TSA agent do a "thorough patdown" that included my groin area. I told her that I identified as male and would prefer a male TSA agent pat me down. Surprisingly, she was okay with this and radioed that she now needed a male supervisor. They grabbed my luggage and took me to a "private screening room" which was basically a small white box with frosted glass windows. By this time, I had about six TSA agents dealing with my situation and they gathered in a huddle and had a meeting about me while I was left alone in the room. The lady supervisor was confused as to why she wasn't needed anymore and they didn't quite seem to know what to do with me. After about 5 minutes of talking it out, two male TSA agents came into the room with me and explained the procedure. I told them I knew exactly what was setting off their machine and explained what it was. I was then patted down head to toe, and across my groin three times with the front of his hand. After he was done, he went to check his gloves and the supervisor started scolding me for having worn my packer. I was annoyed and a little offended by this, because I am sure they have people with prosthetic arms and legs come through all the time and I'm not sure how this is different, but I didn't say anything. The guy who patted me down was very nice and understanding but the supervisor was just annoyed and somewhat pissy that I had taken up all this time. They let me go after they were assured my dick wasn't a threat to national security and I made it home without further incident.

Overall, I thought they handled it as well as they could have with the exception of the supervisor that scolded me. However, next time I think I'll just opt-out of the backscatter machine and go through the metal detector. I'll still have to be patted down but I think if I just tell them upfront that I'm a trans male I should be just fine.

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