Transgender Ex-Navy SEAL Endures Embarrassment during Security Check


What started out to be just another rushed and hurried arrival at Reagan National Airport, turned out to be quite a humiliating experience for Kristin Beck. She commenced with the usual procedures of placing her carry-on bag on the conveyor belt and stepping into the body scanner; however, she would be flagged for a secondary screening. This is where her awkward situation with TSA began.

Kristin Beck, born Christopher Beck, is a retired Navy SEAL who delivers speeches to audiences on gender and cultural sensitivity.  She also authored a book on her experience in combat as a member of SEAL Team 6 and was featured in CNN’s series, “Lady Valor,” where she related her experience as a transgender female. Nonetheless, this seasoned veteran was not prepared for what happened on this particular day of traveling. 

The two Transportation Security Administration agents, a man, and a woman proceeded to whisper to each other in confusion instead of conducting the routine “pat-down,” to check for any prohibited items. They then contacted their supervisor who, in turn, directed the male agent to pat Ms. Beck down. In the meantime, Ms. Beck reassured the agents and their supervisor that she is indeed a woman as noted on her driver’s license and verbalized that parts of her anatomy are “real.”  Finally, the female agent stepped forward to do the pat-down as Ms. Beck fought back the tears.

After the incident, TSA employees reached out and issued a formal apology, promising to work with Ms. Beck and other members of the transgender community to improve awareness and training that would prevent similar incidents from happening again.  They assured her that all travelers would be treated with respect.  Although Ms. Beck stated that the irony of the situation was that she was traveling to a speaking engagement to federal employees on the matter of human rights, she still commended TSA for the job that they do even if improvements are still needed.