The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has spent a whopping $18.6 million on the development, testing and deployment of “non-binary screening systems” intended to make transgender people feel more comfortable, it was reported Thursday.
The funding from the FY22 Omnibus Appropriations fund, the Biden administration’s annual government spending budget, has been spent on putting Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) units in airports across the country in order to achieve “increased accuracy and efficiency” for customers.
The systems will roll out at airports next month, although those who say their gender was incorrectly assumed by the machines have the option to ask for re-screening instead of receiving a physical pat-down.
Of the 26,542 screening complaints TSA receives annually, 6% of those complaints are from members of the LGBT community, which is less than Gallup census data which found 7% of people currently identify as LGBT.
Jose Bonilla, TSA’s executive director for travel engagement, said he expects the new technology will reduce the number of customer complaints and lead to shorter waiting times.
“This technology should really be gender-neutral, you know, it really should be – and we’re there,” he told WCAX. “The way that we’ve operated the system is specifically based on blue button if the individual is perceived by the officer to be male, pink button if the individual is perceived by our officer to be female.”
This is not the first change TSA has made in order to accommodate LGBT travelers. In March, the agency announced that gender would no longer be considered when confirming whether someone’s passport or driving license photo matched their stated identity.
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