The sagging sagas of the boy tits continue… I’m on tour in the USA and it seems the new body scan machine has replaced the old metal detector Xray machine in most US airports. For the second time this week, my boy tits raised the alarm on the body scanner.
Security guy: “Sir, I’m going to need to pat down your chest. Arms up.” (Pat. Pat pat pat…. Pat pat pat… pat pat pat) Sir, what’s this at your chest? Are you wearing a jacket or something under your shirt?”
Security guy: “arms back up” (pat pat pat pat pat PAT PAT PAT PAAAAAAATTTTTTTTT).
Me: “look, I’m transgender (insert basic transgender 101 definition using cis-sexist language I would NEVER use to describe my body).
Security guy: “oh” (literally leaps back, says hurredly to security lady) “maybe you should get this one”
Security lady: “but….”
The security lady and guy do perfectly synchronised head movements as they stare first at my face, then at my chest, then back at my face, followed by matching drop of their jaws, then coordinated nudges, each trying to push the other one forward to deal with me. They really couldn’t have choreographed this better if they’d had months to train. Not since I told my male gym teacher in high school that I had my period have I seen such confusion and discomfort on the face of an authority figure.
Security lady mutters to security guy: “let’s just put… (mumbled pronoun)… back through the scanner”
Second time through the scanner, yup, these boy tits are still perilous. A scuffle ensues between the security guy and the security lady – clearly they are unsure who should give me the second pat down and finally the security guy turns to me, face bright red, and says “keep moving. Next!”.
Did I just find my new “get out of gym class” card?! “Mister, I have my period” doesn’t work any more since this cis-sexist world wouldn’t believe it possible that I could have or ever have had a period. It might be time for a change of tactics: “Mister, my boy tits are sore”. In that moment when the security guy asked the first time what was under my shirt, could I have just said “boy tits, I’m a transsexual”, rather than awkwardly let him go back in for the second pat down with my futile hopes that he’d decide my chest was just gorgeously chubby?
I’m curious how the body scanner machine works. I’m assuming the security guard must press a button to get it to either scan you as a “man” or “woman”. But many cisgendered (non-trans) men have man-boobs, so do they get pulled over and patted down too? I doubt it, or there’d be long hold-ups in the security line. So I guess the machine must look decide what proportion of your body should be chest vs stomach vs thighs etc. So who decides what the right proportions are? And how do we each participate in this, even without meaning to, buying into these ideas of what a “man’s body” or a “woman’s body” should look like?
After my first year on hormones when my body shape radically altered (my ass and hips flattened and I had to start wearing a belt like for reals) I was still a little insecure about the “love handles” on my waist, thinking that they would give away my trans-ness in situations where I didn’t want to be identified in public as trans. But when I started scrutinizing cisgendered (non-trans) men’s bodies, I began to notice such a massive variation in men’s body shapes. So many men have love handles, curvy hips, chunky asses and pear shapes. How many men actually have the “normal” man’s body? I’m gonna say probably not that many, particularly considering that the “normal” body is also seen as white. In the media and dominant racist cultural narratives in Canada, the USA and Australia (and beyond), white men’s bodies are just described as “bodies” compared to other men’s being described as “Black men’s bodies” or “Asian men’s bodies”, for example.
And in what different ways are different men treated for not having the “normal” man’s body? Well, it’s likely due to my whiteness that the airport scanner situation drew out the security guards reactions of confusion, embarrassment and awkward fear, rather than the racist hostility and violent fear that may have been dished out to Black or Arab trans men, for example, in the same situation. (See a beatuiful and harrowing poem by Amir Rabiyah – Transexual Militant).
I’d love to hear people’s ideas on how we can work, from the ground up, to transform our conceptions of bodies and make more space for a whole myriad of beautiful bodies. Because someone(s) clearly just made that shit up, so surely we can make up new ways of seeing bodies for all our glorious differences and our beautiful human fleshy similarities.
Some other popular blog articles:
Check out video, photos, theatre shows and workshops on Sunny’s website