I want to depart a moment from the usual silliness and fun that is normally posted on this blog. I want to talk about something that’s very close to me and is very hard for me to talk about. However, I think it’s important that people understand what they are doing.
It has become nearly impossible for me to fly in the United States of America, the land of freedom. In increasing number of airports are using full body scanning technology and invasive pat down procedures in which you are highly likely to be fondled as they involve breasts and genitalia. As a note, I am male. The news has reported erroneously how little detail these machines can uncover, as I have done the research and have seen undoctored photos of just how much they reveal. The news has reported that these images aren’t saved, yet thousands were recently leaked.
I have read about individuals who cry through the ‘groping process’ because they are suffering the effects of being a sexual assault victim. I have read about the strange proceedings these policies have incurred in regards to children. I already have a major distrust of random people in positions of authority, such as at restaurants, police officers, gardeners, movers, paramedics, etc. There is no reason for me to suspect that TSA officials will suddenly be exempt from human problems and predilictions.
I suffer from Bipolar Type I with psychotic symptoms and have been told I have a form of dysmorphophobia or Body Dysmorphic Disorder. While I can’t truly discuss all of the symptoms here to give you the best picture, I can say that I live a balancing act of trying to live normally amidst painful obsessions about myself and frightening obsessions of the world around me. My paranoia presents me with unique problems when it comes to being searched. I am terrified of being seen naked by anyone other than my partner. I am absolutely horrified by the thought of someone touching me in sensitive areas. When I list these emotions, I cannot emphasize how powerful they are. These emotions about various things are powerful enough to immobilize me for hours just about every other day. They are powerful enough that they effect my ability to work: I can’t hold a job. They are so powerful that I’ve attempted suicide trying to get away from them. I can’t be touched by a doctor in any sensitive areas at all, and I’m terrified of the thought of having to be tranquilized or put under in order to do so. Just the thought of a catheter for instance makes my mind reel. I avoid locker rooms entirely and change in as sequestered a bathroom stall as I can get. I can’t help how I am, though I try my hardest every day to live a normal life. I am mentally disabled.
The TSA search procedures are deathly frightening to me and if I were to submit to a pat down (as the full body scan is out of the question) I don’t know what would happen. I would be in such mental anguish I don’t even want to think about it. The TSA search procedures are unnecessary. When I had to enter the hospital in-patient ward for an extended stay they had to search me to make sure I had no dangerous items. That search involved taking off most of my clothes. I just about went into catatonics at that alone, but it was something I could do. That search was less invasive than what the TSA is now routinely doing, yet just as effective.
I have done nothing wrong. I am a good citizen. I always travel the speed limit, I never break the law, I don’t pirate, I mind my own business. If these procedures take hold everywhere what am I to do, how am I to get anywhere like everybody else? Why am I being punished for doing nothing wrong? Despite my belief that I have to face the world just as everyone else does, I can’t help but think that the TSA is discriminating against me and others like me. I want to travel freely, and I’m unable to do so because too many people are willing to go as far as it takes to give them a false peace of mind.
Every day we take risks. We take greater risks driving to the airport than we do once we’re actually in the airport and in the air. I take risks every time I enter a social situation. Taking a risk is part of every day life. This type of security theater is not going to make the risk any less significant. There are still ways around the procedures. In fact, it is increasing the risk as it lulls passengers and others into a false sense of security. It is impossible to eliminate the risk of any activity to zero, though we can try all sorts of crazy stunts to do so. That we need to eliminate the risk is not an effective argument.
This treatment of the public is unacceptable and degrading for everyone. We are not all terrorists and shouldn’t be treated like such. Everyone’s dignity needs to be respected while ensuring security, and the TSA has forgotten that.
The opt out day that’s coming tomorrow is not enough. We need to stand up against this tyrannical privacy invasion and show the TSA every day that we won’t stand for it. We read about extraordinary people taking extraordinary measures to not have to go through these procedures. Those people should be all of us, we should all be doing this. If everyone would raise their voice where it mattered, at the security check points, this would stop.
Your costumed performer,