I feel good knowing I am not the only one shrugging off the new TSA rules. As a person with a disability, the type of pat downs I’ve had to go through for years is not much different from what I will now have to endure should I ever fly again.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – For air passengers already fed up with being hauled off to the side of the security line for a pat-down or facing aggressive questions about bulky clothing or odd items in their luggage, advocates for the disabled have this to say: Welcome to our lives.
For the disabled and infirmed – many forced to go through security lines in wheelchairs with ample hiding places for contraband, wearing prosthetic limbs that could harbor drugs or explosives or lugging oxygen tanks that could really contain god-knows-what – the added discomfort and inconvenience that many travelers are now experiencing is something they’ve put up with for years.
Since the new airport security screening procedures began Nov. 1, stories of travelers with disabilities or medical conditions being humiliated, perhaps inadvertently, by Transportation Security Administration agents have made headlines: A bladder cancer survivor from Michigan had to board a plane covered in urine after agents tore open his urostomy bag during a pat-down; a flight attendant and breast cancer survivor in North Carolina said she was ordered to expose her prosthetic breast to two TSA staffers.
For Guinivan, speaking to The Associated Press by phone from her home, the concern for her son goes beyond pat-downs to worries that his wheelchair may get damaged or that he will have trouble sitting between two passengers on the flight.
“Our expectation when we fly is to be prepared for uncomfortable situations,” she said. “A lot of the things people with disabilities experience every day, the general public is now having to deal with.”
Eric Lipp, a partial paraplegic, said he had no problems when he recently took four flights over two days, though he definitely noticed the pat-down he received was more aggressive.
Lipp, executive director of the Open Doors Organization, a Chicago-based nonprofit group that focuses on accessibility in travel and tourism, said that TSA agents should get more training in how to treat people with disabilities in a respectful manner, but that he does not object to the new policies.
“It might be a little more intrusive now,” Lipp said, “but it’s expected.”
A dear friend of mine pointed out how the new pat down rules are exceptionally traumatic for those who have PTSD or have been raped/molested. I agree. And I consider them brothers and sisters who have had to endure this for ages now. I don’t feel that the few inches closer to their crotch wouldn’t matter in that case. They’re either immune to it at this point or they prepare themselves mentally for it. Or they don’t fly.
I don’t fly often, didn’t before 9/11. It isn’t a matter of packing a few bags and taking a cab. People who have never done it have no clue what it involves. I can’t take just any cab. I don’t pack just one bag. I have to let the airlines know ahead of time. Luckily, I don’t have to have my ass squeezed into one of those aisle chairs and endure that humiliation. Then there’s the fear that my chair won’t be waiting for me when I land. Or it won’t be in the same condition. Every time I fly, something on my chair breaks. So the idea of being touched in private areas in public spaces doesn’t bother me that much. Been there, done that.