Transgender Comic Creator At Centre Of Media Storm Over TSA Treatment

Shadi Petowsky is a comic book designer, creator and publisher, working with the likes
Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon as Big Time Attic, on comics such as Replacement God and Top 10, as well as working on the Yo Gabba Gabba TV series, and for Puny Entertainment.

But she's hit the news this week for very different reasons, involving her experiences as she went through security to get on a domestic US flight from Orlando.

NBC News reports,

"I stepped into the full body scanner, the TSA agent looked at me and pressed the F button," Petosky said in an interview with NBC News via text message. "The scanner picked up an 'anomaly' in my crotch area."

"I said, 'I'm transgender. That's my penis,'" Petosky recalled. "The TSA officer then said something like, 'If you are a man, then go back in the machine and we'll run you as a man.'"

Told by the agent that she needed to be run as a man or a woman, Petosky said she replied, "I'm transgender. I am a woman, but I have an atrophied penis, trying to make it kind of not a big deal."

According to Petosky, the TSA officer replied, "If you don't want to be run as a man, we'll have to search you. Are you a man or a woman?"

Then he asked her whether she wanted a male or female agent to search her body.

"I kind of froze. I have never been flagged in the groin before and didn't want to make a female officer touch there, but didn't want a man to do the pat down," she said.

"I am sure you have some kind of transgender policy. Do you have training in this?" Petosky recalled telling the agent. To which, he replied, "I know what I'm doing."

It got worse. Tweeting the incident as it happened, Shadi stated,

Missing her flight was just the beginning. Visibly upset, she was asked to leave the airport.

Shadi got a flight the next day. Since then media attention has only grown, and now? Well, The Advocate reported a statement from the TSA's spokesman, Mike England, saying,

"Our officers are trained to properly screen members of the transgender community. TSA takes all potential civil rights violations very seriously and conducted a review of the incident. After examining closed circuit TV video and other available information, TSA has determined  that the evidence shows our officers followed TSA's strict guidelines. Supervisory personnel and a Passenger Support Specialist participated in the screening to ensure guidelines were met."

To which Shadi replied,

Newsweek reported a statement from American Airlines in which they stated,

"American Airlines immediately rebooked Ms. Petosky on the next available flight – at no charge – to Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP). If a passenger misses a flight due to a delay at the TSA checkpoint, American Airlines will  book them on the next available flight," the airline said in a statement. In responding to Petosky on Twitter, American Airlines noted TSA was investigating why she was searched.

Which got the response from Shadi,

Statements from big organisations only really work if they can't be instantly rebutted on social media. And these days, they can. However, Shadi also reminds us…

Happier trails, Shadi…

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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