Airport security can be a daunting experience for many passengers, who often find themselves scrambling to prepare their belongings for inspection and hastily navigating body scanners. Unnecessary pat-downs only add to the discomfort. However, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is employing AI technology to minimize pat-downs and improve the experience for all travelers.
By utilizing an updated algorithm in TSA body scanners, the goal is to minimize false alarms that often result in unwarranted pat-downs. This update is particularly meaningful for transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming passengers who previously encountered difficulties with the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) scanners. These devices depended heavily on the gender binary to identify potential contraband, causing misgendered passengers to undergo additional screenings.
The TSA has successfully updated nearly 1,000 AIT units, resulting in a significant reduction of false alarms and pat-downs for all passengers. To further support the development and implementation of this new algorithm, Congress has allocated $18.6 million. In addition, the TSA is pursuing other gender-neutral initiatives, such as removing gender information from identity verification processes and introducing an ‘X’ gender option for TSA PreCheck applications.
While advocacy groups recognize the positive impact of these changes, they emphasize the need for ongoing improvements. It is essential to establish a respectful and accountable screening process for transgender travelers, individuals with disabilities, and members of religious and ethnic minority groups. As the new algorithm continues to be implemented through the summer of 2023, the TSA is taking significant steps to transform airport security for all travelers.