Seriously. I travel. A LOT! I usually have at least one trip a month but it’s not unusual for me to be gone for a couple of weeks at a time. I have a nice, up-to-date passport with a little L-1 visa on it and my gender marker with birth date and such. So far, I haven’t had too much issue (white privilege yet again) and am still in the beginning stages of my transition. I’ve contemplated the gender marker stuff but have decided to leave it for now since Ontario’s laws in regards to it will require me to do many leaps and bounds that I’m just not agile enough for at this point. So imagine my shock when I read this article on CNN. The part that intrigued me was this:
Under the program, Secure Flight, travelers will be asked to provide their full name, date of birth and gender when making airline reservations. The encrypted information will then be transmitted to the Transportation Security Administration, which will run it against the watch lists. The Department of Homeland Security believes the few pieces of additional information will dramatically reduce the number of people falsely identified as being on a watch list.
Currently, individual airlines compare the names on manifests with the no-fly and selectee lists. Their performance has been uneven, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Chertoff says having the government do the matching should improve efficiency and security.
The ACLU welcomed the privacy protections in the program, but Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program, said it is based on “a hopelessly bloated watch list that has over a million names on it.”
I highlighted the relevant part. For most people this isn’t a big deal. But for a transgendered/transsexual person (particularly if they are transitioning and have a dislike about their bio-gender), this can be unpleasant and demeaning. What happens when I present fully as male but look female? Does this mean I’ll be put on the watch list?
Don’t get me wrong. I understand and totally can appreciate the need for security measures. As a security geek, I wholly understand the need for this. But what I’ve found more powerful, if you truly want to protect a nation or other large entity isn’t this kind of profiling (and it’s another form of profiling, let’s be real), is the ability to make your average participant aware of what things to look for. A terrorist is generally someone who is extremely disgruntled with the world, particularly the government and is willing to sacrifice their life for it. They could be the Michigan Militia or Al-Qaeda. They are primarily male and largely disenfranchised with the world at large. They have probably tried other methods of dealing with their frustrations but were either ignored or demeaned in the process. There is no religious, race or gender identification that can truly tell you who is a terrorist and who isn’t. The US, who continues to go on about one’s ability to challenge what a government says, has put on it’s “terror lists” individuals who do just that. Case in point: William Poole (he was charged with being a “terrorist” because he wrote a short fiction piece that had zombies taking over his high school).
So this latest attempt to ensure we have the “right people” on the list — and the ACLU’s “okie dokies” on it — just smacks again of cisprivilege and white privilege. If the US really wants to stop terrorists, stop giving them a reason to want to do things to the US. Show the world what the US really has to offer in the way of benefits and better lifestyle. Make it welcoming to those that come from afar and be considerate of others in their “homes”. When I had queried my therapist about the fact that I still run into “culture shock” here in the US and that there was something unique about NYC, she pointed out the “familial” attitude that many NYers seem to have. This idea that we’re all in it together and have a shared experience in that sense. Ya know what: we need to extend that “familia” kind of attitude elsewhere. With family you accept them as they are and for the difference that they present. Even if it is different than your own.
So, shame on you, ACLU, for allowing the possibility of cis-privilege to occur. You just made my life potentially more annoying.