Traveling through an airport during transition has it own challenges, From security checks to the immigration to even using a restroom. Establishing ones identity is important, but it also poses its own set of problems for transgender people with gender incongruent identity documents.
Though Indian government seems to be very progressive with making new laws for transgender people, But the ground realities and experiences of transgender people dealing with government facilities has be horrifying. Ground staff in government facilities are unaware of the laws that are made for transgender people. And there are no initiatives taken by the government to ensure implementation of the laws for transgender people. As a consequence most Transgender people are still living with their gender assigned at birth, on their identity documents. Air Travelling with these gender incongruent documents are not just difficult, but have also been a nightmare for few.
In this article series we asked some transwomen and transmen, their experiences of traveling through Indian airports.
The participants were:
Shaman – Transman
Anu – Transwoman
Vidya – Transwoman
Aditya – Transman
Divya – Transwoman
With gender incongruent documents, what are the most common issues you face while traveling by air?
Shaman : At the security checking, they usually ask me my name again as it sounds feminine, but I don’t look female.
Aditya : I used to stand in female queues earlier, but I look liked a male, so people kept telling me, “It’s not your queue.” The officer used to touch on my chest to find out whether I am male or female. They even asked me whether I am male, or female. And even though the officer was a woman, it is still a very uncomfortable experience.
Anu : While passing through security check, I’ve faced issues with frisking, and with usage of pronouns.
Vidya : So far, I haven’t faced any issues.
Divya : During the security checks, I wish they had a gender neutral security check box. I don’t mind who is frisking me, but just being starred by other travelers while i am in a queue is embarrassing