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Los Angeles LAX Airport TSA Gets Sensitivity Training in Transgender Lawsuit

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by copythis

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In The News

'Sensitivity Training' is popular stuff these days for air travel related scandals: Transportation Security Administration (TSA) managers at LAX are getting some lessons after being sued over a transgender employee in a lawsuit claiming the agency made Ashley Yang dress like a man, use the men's restroom and pat down male passengers. Screw a succinct policy: Los Angeles TSA will be fixed through being more sensitive.
29-year-old Ashley Yang had been employed as a security checkpoint screener at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) but says she got fired from TSA after co-workers saw her use the women’s room. Apparently the TSA is not so up on the legal aspect with putting things in writing. It seems Yang was provided a termination letter describing at least part of the 'event'. The transgender woman's contesting being fired by TSA -- and the result is the now 'tried-and-true' method late known as 'sensitivity training'.
The two go together about as much as Houston-based Southwest pilot James Taylor -- after the guy openly ranted about gays and overweight women or co-workers on a stuck and open microphone that jammed air traffic control. He too got sensitivity training -- not a lesson on how shut his mouth, or how to shut down that mic.
Ashley Yang has also received a hefty legal settlement amount in a Settlement Agreement that includes five months of back pay from the Transportation Security Administration, a typically hard-to-obtain 'pain and suffering' amount, and mandatory transgender sensitivity for TSA managers at the LAX airport.
“Ashley lives her life as a woman. Her co-workers recognized her as a woman. Passengers recognized her as a woman. But her employer didn’t,” says lawyer Kristina Wertz -- who helped file a civil rights complaint against TSA on behalf of Ashley Yang. “She [Yang] was asked to hide who she was just in order to earn a living.”
TSA spokesman Nico Melendez says: “It’s part of the world we live in today. We need to be aware of transgender issues not only for our co-workers, but for passengers.” Now that's a good thought. It's interesting no one thought of that before -- as in before the Transportation Security Administration agency got itself sued.
There wasn't exactly good reason for confusion, or an excuse for TSA: Ashley Yang had already been living as a woman before ever taking on her role with the LAX TSA agency. The transgender woman had already been taking hormones to soften physical features in 2006 -- two years prior to applying with the TSA agency. In fact she says the interviewer never questioned she was a woman. And even her California driver’s license identifies Ashley Yang as female.
But in keeping with full disclosure on documents, Ashley Yang informed the TSA agency about her transgender status prior to a background check was going to pop up the name she'd previously used as a man. Yang says the TSA agency told her agents are required to match the same gender as passengers they're responsible for screening or searching -- including procedures like pat-downs -- and wanted to know if Yang had ever had sex reassignment surgery. Despite her feminine appearance and living as a woman, Ashley Yang had not had sex reassignment surgery and says that, from the time of training with the TSA was told she must pat down men -- and was also offered a position working with luggage instead of people.
Yang wanted to work with people: She alleges TSA told her she'd be required by the agency to cut her long, highlighted hair -- and instead alter her appearance to that of a male, also following the dress code for men and even using the men’s bathroom. Ashley Yang says TSA gave permission for her to wear a wig instead of cutting her hair -- but that she was told in her role as a TSA employee to purchase a wig with “a more male look.”
That didn't go over so well: Ashley Yang says neither co-workers or passengers were convinced, with what was probably a baffling contradiction in appearance. Wearing a short Afro wig, the contradiction with her feminine features, she says, caused inappropriate comments from male passengers who were surprised to be patted down by what they believed was a woman -- resulting in passenger comments like, “I haven’t had a girl touch me for a long time.”
So it has come to be: 'Sensitivity Training' takes the place of common sense. The Los Angeles Aiport TSA has already begun that 'sensitivity' program this summer in what's slated to be an "ongoing" program. Apparently a lawsuit that's actually filed equals serious stuff: The Southwest pilot with the homophobic rant got less than three months of newfound 'sensitivity'.


Los Angeles, CA
United States
34° 3' 8.0424" N, 118° 14' 37.266" W
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