Hustling to grab my carry-on and shoes, two TSA agents escorted me to a private room with fogged glass walls and a small table. Once inside the room, the agents started speaking quietly to themselves. I stood awkwardly, adjusted my shirt, opened and closed my fists.The whole thing would be tragic if it weren't for the fact that the author is unable to face it.
“Sir, we need to know what’s in your pants,” said the male agent, not at all hiding his lingering gaze at my crotch.
“I don’t think that’s any of your business.” I said, trying (and failing) to hold back my rage.
“Actually, it is our business, because we know it’s not a penis,” said the female agent, smugly, like she’d just discovered an important secret.
Before I could think about what to say or how to say it, I reached into my jeans and pulled out my packer (a small prosthesis) and threw it on the table. “There! Is that what you’re worried about?”
Both agents turned red and started giggling. I was livid. Frantically, I started unbuttoning my dress shirt and lifted up my white undershirt to show them my chest binder. “And this, this is the other thing you’re worried about?” I shouted at them, hoping my newly deepened voice was audible to other travelers beyond the fogged glass walls.
“Now, sir, er, ma’am, uh ... there’s no need to get upset,” said the female agent. “We are following protocol.”
“Protocol my ass.” I retorted. “You can’t treat me like this just because I’m transgender. And stop calling me ma’am. I’m a dude.”
“OK, Mister Charles,” the female agent said, mockingly. “No need to get hysterical.”
At hearing that word, I felt the blood rush to my face, and I blinked hard to keep from screaming at both of them, who just eyed me, still suspicious. “Are we fucking done here?” I demanded.
“Yes, sir,” The male agent replied quietly, vaguely aware of the embarrassment and rage I was feeling. “We’ll step out to give you a minute to collect your things.” The female agent glared at me as she left.
I buttoned my shirt back up, stuffed the packer into my bag instead of my pants, and stepped quickly out of the room and towards the throng of people heading to their gates, eager to blend in. It wasn’t until I had reached the relative safety of a stall in the men’s bathroom that I set down my bags and wept into my hands.
It's the same narcissism that Leiter decries as the new infantilism. Unfortunately it's also the same infantilism he represents: a fragmentation into micro-cultures with borders so strictly maintained that the borders themselves become the reason for the cultures' existence, and the life within them becomes hollowed out. Israel.