It's WAY more likely these days to hear an upsetting story about the treatment of a transgender person than a positive one. But this week, an uplifting airport story made tens of thousands of people a little more hopeful that we can all be better.
Amanda Sapir shared her experience with a TSA agent on Facebook shortly after it occurred. Sapir, who identifies as gender non-conforming, was taken aback at just how accommodating and understanding the TSA agent Darlena Thi Lac was to her.
While Sapir says she has yet to experience some of the awful treatment many transgender people have been subjected to at the airport security line, she has faced general awkwardness—but felt that Lac went the extra mile to make her feel more comfortable.
TSA regulations stipulate that passengers must identify as either male or female when going through the security checkpoint. This, many argue, can make a trans person’s experience at the airport more complicated and leaves potential for discrimination.
According to the Facebook post, Lac was especially accommodating to Sapir by asking her simply, “Which gender do you wish to identify as?” when Sapir walked through the metal detector and was flagged for having boxer briefs on, since the TSA had identified her as a woman prior to walking through the machine.
Asked if she would like to go through under the male settings, Sapir was then flagged for having breasts. This made both TSA Agent Lac and Sapir laugh.
When giving Sapir the mandatory pat-down, Lac again asked Sapir how she would like to be identified as the protocols for the search vary for different genders.
“You get to decide how you are identified,” Lac told Sapir.
Sapir said that she was not expecting the story to go viral and only simply wanted to commend Lac for her social consciousness.
““I did not think this would go viral, I am so surprised,” Sapir said, according to BuzzFeed News. “It was important to lift up her professionalism and the humanity in her professionalism. I’ve received lots of comments from trans people, but also from diabetics or other folks who have medical issues who have also had inconvenient experiences with TSA screening. We all can benefit from humane treatment.”
When BuzzFeed News caught up with Lac, she said she was simply just doing her job.
“I’m a natural people person,” Lac said. “My intuitive nature took over and I handled the situation in a way I’d like to be treated.” She continued on to say that she hopes the story helps people.
“The effortless approach to a sensitive matter is such a sight to see, especially seeing how many were affected by this. It shows us all, those affected and those who can relate,” Lac wrote on her Facebook page. “That this is a sensitive issue that many don’t talk or speak out about.”
Sapir and Lac have since reconnected via social media, and their story is certainly one to build off of as transgender people fight for rights and acceptance of their humanity.