SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Transportation Security Administration said Thursday that its managers at Los Angeles International Airport are undergoing mandatory sensitivity training after a transgender employee alleged she was ordered to dress like a man, pat down male passengers and use the men’s restroom.

Ashley Yang, 29, who spent two years as a security checkpoint screener at LAX, was fired last summer after co-workers observed her using the women’s room, according to a copy of her termination letter obtained by The Associated Press. She contested the firing, resulting in a settlement that mandated the training.

“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,” said attorney Kristina Wertz of the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center, which helped her file a civil rights complaint. “She was asked to hide who she was just in order to earn a living.”

The settlement, reached in December and completed last month, also called for Yang to receive five months of back pay and a five-figure award for pain and suffering.

TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said he could not discuss details of the case because of privacy rules. But he confirmed that the required training of managers started this summer and was ongoing.

“It’s part of the world we live in today,” he said. “We need to be aware of transgender issues not only for our co-workers, but for passengers.” LAX, with a staff of 2,500 security officers, has as many as 100 managers, according to Melendez.

Yang started living as a woman and taking hormones to feminize her appearance in 2006, two years before she applied to work for TSA. Her interviewer never doubted that the delicately featured candidate with artfully applied makeup and finely arched eyebrows was a woman, she said. Her California driver’s license identifies her as female.

She informed the agency she was transgender before a background check revealed the name she used when she was a man. The agency reminded her that agents had to be the same gender as the passengers they search and asked whether she had gone through sex reassignment surgery, which she had not.

When she showed up for training, Yang was told that according to TSA regulations she would have to pat down men and was offered a position working with baggage. She insisted that part of the job’s appeal was working with people.

She was then told she would have to cut her long, highlighted hair, follow the dress code for male agents and use the men’s bathroom, she said. She obtained permission to wear a wig instead, but was told to buy one with “a more male look.”

Yang said she settled on a short Afro, but passengers and co-workers weren’t convinced. Because of her feminine appearance, she sometimes received inappropriate comments from men who were surprised to find a woman frisking them, Yang claimed.

She said men made comments like, “I haven’t had a girl touch me for a long time,” or, “Does this mean you are going to buy me dinner?”

Agents who did not know she was transgender would call her over to search women. After management became concerned that hair length requirements would violate the rights of some religions adherents, she was allowed to wear her hair in a bun.

“When you get a job, you are like, `I’ll follow the rules for now.’ It’s a job you don’t know too much about, and you don’t want to push,” she said. “When they said `same-sex pat-down,’ I didn’t know that would affect how i would be treated because I didn’t apply for the job as a guy…. People would see my face and know I was a woman.”

Yang said she was not trying to be impertinent about the bathroom issue. She said she informed her managers that since California law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and includes employment protections for transgender workers, she understood that using the women’s room was her right.

A TSA screening director said her behavior constituted a failure “to comply with the instructions given to you by management.” Her supervisors told her they would research the issue, but did not change their position. She was fired.

Melendez said he did not know if the TSA would require managers at other airports to get transgender sensitivity training orclarify that transgender job applicants do not need to have undergone surgery in order to work in jobs that reflect their new genders.

But passengers are not subject to surgery requirements at the airport, he said

“When passengers come to the checkpoint, we have to screen the passengers based on how they present themselves. If they present themselves as male, they are screened by a man. If they present themselves as female, they are screened by a woman,” he said.

The awkward dance between TSA and Yang reflects an expanding and unsettled frontier in employment and civil rights law, said Michael Silverman, executive director of the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.

While many states do not require surgery as a condition for changing gender on a driver’s license, virtually all do not allow transgender people to obtain new birth certificates unless they have undergone certain medical procedures.

The latter practice was challenged for the first time by Silverman’s group, which sued New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in March.

At the federal level, the landscape is just as uneven, according to Silverman.

The U.S. Department of State this year changed its passport rules to delete the surgery threshold. Transgender applicants need only present a doctor’s letter stating they have undergone a gender transition, which may have included psychological counseling and hormones. Surgery still is required to change gender designations on Social Security Administration records.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management issued guidance to federal agencies stating that “dress codes should not be used to prevent a transgender employee from living full-time in the role consistent with his or her gender identity.”

Transgender workers do not need to provide proof of surgery to use restrooms that match the gender with which they identify, it said.

“The notion that every transgender person needs or wants surgery in order to fully transition is simply incorrect,” Silverman said.

“Different people require different levels of surgical intervention and different types of surgical intervention. There is no one size fits all of what is going to be prescribed, and it should be very clear that for some people, it’s going to be no surgery at all,” he said.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (53)
  1. rich says:

    i guess the passenger has no rights to not be touched by what looks like one gender but is really the other

  2. duh says:

    Guess we have to start building a 3rd restroom in every public facility labeled ‘Other’.

  3. J.N. is a man says:

    This is the kind of thing that is going to cause the next war in America.

  4. Kari McKern says:

    She was well within her rights and got the job on those terms. Live and let live. The other comments are disappointing.

    1. rich says:

      so kari if a man mearly puts on womens cloths and goes into the same restroom as you this is ok?? i dont care that they work doing what ever but the fact that this person dressed as a woman can frisk my wife even though he is still physically a HE this boths me and the fact HE can enter the same restroom as my wife is also wrong

      1. Astonished says:


        A man masquerading as a femaie is entirely different that someone who is transgender! In this case it shouldn’t bother you. This person is basically all female, she has no “designs” or sexual feelings for your wife. As for entering the same bathroom, unless you don’t trust your wife, you shouldn’t have any issues. Besides, female bathrooms have partitions.

      2. rich says:

        on sight you can not tell the diffrence from a tansgender or a man who just wants a peek so kep it simple and use the restroom that goes with how you were born and not how your twisted ming thinks you are

    2. Peeps says:

      Your comments make me sick!

    3. Veritas says:

      Your comment is by far the most disappointing. What a sad place this country has become.

    4. RICH says:


    5. Allen Goldberg says:

      Your comments are dissappointing

    6. Rose says:

      He is not a “She”, or didn’t you understand that? And if he thinks he is, that’s a personal mental issue that he needs to address, but not on the public tax or public backs.

    7. Bill Whatcott says:

      She really is a he. His dong proves it. No, I don’t want my wife getting frisked by him.

  5. E Kensho says:

    Wow, five comments from five different ignorant, intolerant, close-minded bigots. You must be very proud of yourselves. What an admirable quality – the ability to anonymously hate people you’ve never even met from the comfort of your own living rooms. I’m sure bigots the world over are wishing they could be just like you right now. I won’t even waste my time trying to educate the likes of you. There’s enough satisfaction in knowing that I can out-think, outsmart and just plain outdo morons like you in my sleep.

    1. Peeps says:

      Yes, you have become so open minded your brains have spilled out F Kensho. I am sick & tired of having this anti-family, anti-god morality shoved down my throat. Yes it is a culture war…I am on one side and you are on the other. I do not hate these people. But when their minority voice starts to affect my freedoms then I say enough is enough.

      1. rich says:

        i so totally agree with your peeps

      2. Shigyrl says:

        I could not agree with you more. This situation is not as innocent as it seems. In my opinion leaves the door open to sexual predators who could now use dressing as a woman. To attack someone in the ladies room.

    2. Veritas says:

      Wow you truly are a gutless fish…

    3. Diane says:

      I think the real ignorance is the joining of all under one umbrella term (transgender) as if the same. A person who mimics a woman in dress all the while happy with his male genitalia is a transvestite, not a transsexual. A person born with variant chromosome anomalies is intersex and may well be CAH, AIS, PAIS or one of the many varieties numbering as much as 100 distinctions.
      The problem as I see it is that we transfer all under the fetish umbrella when in fact there are psychological and physical issues that in no way attach someone to the fetish behavior of transgender personalities.
      Am I intolerant? Yes I am if my daughter would be forced to share what is expected to be a comfort/safety zone for those of her sex. Bathroom facilities should reflect ones genitalia, not their garments.

  6. Danielle Hallett says:

    The story is alarming enough, but the vile bigoted comments are just disgusting.

    Hard to believe that there are still people around who think like some of the people who have left comments here.

    I never cease to be saddened when people feel it’s appropriate to brand other human beings as “freaks”; I suggest you take a long look at yourselves before judging others.

    1. duh says:

      I have done as you have suggested and took a long look at myself.

      Yep, I belong in the restrooms labeled MALE. No question. I may be a ‘freak’, but unmistakeably MALE.

    2. Rose says:

      If this he/she wants to earn a living, it should not be at the ‘expense’ of the morality education of future generations. Get a job that does not ‘play doctor’ with people who didn’t sign up for your ‘services’.

  7. ginny says:

    Back in the 80′ a male employee in the company I worked at, took an extended leave; when she returned it was a surprise to most of the employees, but we learned to deal with it. It didn’t change how the work got done, none of us (the female co-workers) were offended or uncomfortable when she used the womens room. It amazes me that here we are in 2011 and there is less acceptance now then back on the 80’s. Grow up people,

    1. eddyjames says:

      Back in the 80’s we just figured it was because they had closed down the State Mental hospitals .So a few of them were running loose on the street.And at the tme it was kind of amusing. Watching as they tried to convince people they were something every one knew they never really could be.

      Now we are sick of these wacko’s prading around in public offending most people with their devant behaivor,and what makes it worse you liberals have stuffed the courts with people determined to make the rest of us think it’s Ok and normal for them to have that extra special right to offend us .While in the mean time we aren’t supposed to think or say any thing that might hurt the little warpped fellings.

      Any hairy as sed man that puts on a dress and sneaks into a rest room with my wife or daughter is in for one he ll of an as s whipping. I could care lesswhat the law say’s ,Ill take an Obama on that law and ignore it.

    2. Diane says:

      Ginny, I assume you are talking about a transsex who actually had surgery to change SEX. Surgery does not change brain gender. The person at LAX is a crossdresser/transvestite under the banner of transgender which is a mosaic or umbrella term, a non-medical social construct, of different variant psychological BEHAVIORS.

    3. Diane says:

      I have to assume you are talking about someone who actually had sex reassignment surgery and not simply a man who crossdressed. There is difference from my perspective.
      There are in prison men who crossdressed who viciously assaulted women. Would you have agreed that by being dressed in female garb they too should have been allowed to share a bathroom with someones daughter. Not me!

  8. Dennis Rodman says:

    Amazing isn’t it?

  9. yourbiznes says:

    BIOLOGICALLY SPEAKING, if you have an “X” and a “Y” chromosome, you are male regardless of your psychologically makeup. If you have 2 “X” chromosomes, you are female regardless of your psychologically makeup. No amount of surgery or hormones will change this basic concept. You are not a male because you have a pxxxs; you have a pxxxs because you are male. The same is true for females. You are not a female because you have a vxxxna; you have a vxxxna because you are female.

    1. duh says:

      >psychologically makeup

      ?? You are not educated just because you have a brain.

      1. yourbiznes says:

        Say what you really mean. Don’t hold back anything.

      2. yourbiznes says:

        Forgive me for my misspelling. It should be psychological. I deserve a thousand lashes with a wet noodle.

    2. E Kensho says:

      Tell us, oh wise one… what happens if you have one of the following genetic karyotypes:
      Gender Mosaic (different chromosome in different cells)
      Swyer’s Syndrome
      de la Chapelles Syndrome

      If you’re going to base your prejudices on biology, I suggest you get a least a liberal arts education.

      1. yourbiznes says:

        For the most part, these are rare syndromes. I’m speaking in the most general terms. You can make arguments for these genetic Karotypes, but for their rarity it does not make any sense. And I’m not prejudice toward any one, I’m just making a comment.

      2. shigyrl says:

        Hello crackhead those are called genetic defects or anomalies. For people that have some of those chromosome issues they are usually infertile. Its not normal.

  10. duh says:

    Thanks for that fascinating rant… however… we aren’t talking about PRIVATE restrooms where it’s one person at a time. We’re talking about public restrooms with multiple people. Just walk slow and drink lots of water – it’s gonna be ok… trust me.

  11. rich says:

    there is a major diffrence gforce from your home and a public or work place restroom in your home its a ONE AT A TIME deal in public or work place its posibly several in one restroom at one time if my young daughter goes into a public restoom and some transgender comes in behind her and my daughter sees the added parts that dont belong im going to be upset and yes MOST womens rooms have a partition NOT ALL and even the ones that do the doors do not often close and or lock right so the odds of seeing ot being seen are high

    1. Peeps says:

      I agree 100% rich…I really think we are wasting our time with this liberal mind set. There is a case like this in a small N Central TX town. The guy dresses like a woman but is a man. The companies solution was to build that one individual their own private restroom. I think that is probably the right answer but I wish they would have taken the money to build it out of his/her pay check. Why should that company have to spend their profit to accomodate one person. We deffinitely live in a crazy, mixed up, sick world.

  12. Aagape777 says:

    this is a freaking joke…they have lost their minds, that creep touches me and he-she will draw back a nub…

  13. barbara says:

    Does this mean we can masquarade as an fbi agent.

  14. david says:

    in my daughters school (she is 11) there was a boy who was dressing as a girl with the permission of his elder sisters who are raising him in the wake of their parents death seems this boy had zero luck with the girls so his sisters came up with this idea to dress him as a girl and register him in this new school as a girl so he could have closer contact with girls or so is their story. my daughter this this kid was a girl i tell you this the boy makes a very convincing girl. she (she my daughter) invited this boy alone with several other girls to our home for a sleep over. the boy went to the restroom and left the door ajar and my daughter walked in on him taking a leak standing up. when my daughter saw the UNEXPECTED PARTS he said and i quote SO HOW DO YOU LIKE SEEIN MY %^*()??? she ran and told me and my wife, at which point we called his sisters to pick his tail up they laughed said WHAT HARM DID HE CAUSE we reported this to the school and he has been expelled since he was using the ladies room and he admited he had been PEEKIN in the stalls at the other girls and ENJOYIN him self THIS IS WHY RESTROOMS ARE AND NEED TO BE GENDER SPECIFIC yes there are tannys who have no intrest in this sort of stuff but if we make it legal for a tranny or cross dresser to us the opposite gender restrooms in public we are making it easy for a perve to dress up as a chick and go in there and do sick junk

  15. Spiriteer says:

    They are not liberal, they are fascists. Fascists want to force their idea of how things should be down everybody’s throat. This is no other then when they used a naive girl falsely claiming she was raped to make Roe vs Wade out of it. Social engineering at its best. Far more effective than Hitler or Stalin. Any Rand spelled out the blueprint for this in Ellsworth Toohey. Bit by bit they chisle away at our rights and society, thinking they are building a better one. Just funny how the majority was happier before they came along. I’m with Jefferson, we need another revolution soon. Don’t tread on me! Sic semper tyrannis!

  16. Peeps says:

    Well said my friend! Well said!

  17. Vic Bailey says:

    One more time the sick people win because their feelings was hurt, so who looses? The real people with morals, we keep giving in to these sick people, and our country will fall just like Rome did. It’s just like 1,500 people in Washington telling 300 million people that they are going to destroy our Constitution and we don’t want to hurt their feelings so we let them pass all kind of Unconstitutional laws every day, which says ALL people are equal NOT some are better than others, we have to face our shortfalls what makes these sick people better than us? Semper Fi.

  18. Rose says:

    If this he/she wants to earn a living, it should not be at the ‘expense’ of the morality education of future generations. Get a job that does not ‘play doctor’ with people who didn’t sign up for your ‘services’.

  19. Diane says:

    This is clearly a crossdresser/transvestite who comes under the ever widening umbrella term ‘trans-gender’. Might be easier to distinquish ‘what is’ from ‘what is not’ if those who actually did have ‘sex’ reassignment or corrective surgery, (transsex or intersex), were not classed the same as those who somehow changed their BRAIN gender – not possible – and mimic the opposite sex.

  20. R.H. says:

    A bullet in the head will suffice, problem solved!

  21. Hugo Now says:

    I can dress as a woman and clear security, even though it is clear that I am a man.
    It is legal to wear a costume in an attempt to mask my true identity at airport security. Or insecurity rather…
    No one has a problem with that? It’s OK for passengers to “disguise” their appearance…

    I’ll be using the ladies room tomorrow. Dressed as a man. The law says one
    cannot use dress code to discriminate. Who could argue that I won’t feel like a woman tomorrow and associate my gender likewise? Might be temporary, but there is no time limit is there? Do I have to declare my gender identity in advance? No. One could handily game this system!

    The article author has blurred the difference of transsexual and transgender.
    Repeatedly referring to the individual as a transgender; when in fact, the reader soon discovers the person is transsexual.

    If you think there is no difference between that nice gay guy down the street and trans-anything…better go talk to that nice gay guy, he’ll tell you the difference. Then ask him if he want’s a tranny patting him down….

  22. Da Brickmon says:

    Well, first of all let me say that the automatic refreshes on this website make me want to strangle someone.

  23. Bill Whatcott says:

    The guy calls himself a woman, the courts call him a woman, but God created him with a dong; enough said, we know who is out to lunch.

  24. Consultoria RH says:

    Este blog é uma representação exata de competências. Eu gosto da sua recomendação. Um grande conceito que reflete os pensamentos do escritor. Consultoria RH

  25. Manny says:

    i have 3 kids by 2 women my first wife died several years ago. my kids are boy 17 girl 15 and girl 5 months i was recently out in the mall with all 3 of my kids and wife, we stoped in the food court to eat and the baby needed to be fed also. My 15 year old offered to feed the baby as she was doing so she noticed that the baby also needed a diaper so she got up and went to the restroom to change the baby. in this perticular restroom they have a bench where moms can sit and chage their babies or feed them in a sitting area OUTSIDE the actual restroom area. my daughter sat there to feed and change her sister. as she sat there what looked like a woman came in and sat next to her. struck up a conversation about the baby then promptly touched my daughter on her breasts. my daugher ran out of there leaving all of the babies things behind there happen to be a security officer close who she told quickly what happen and the security officer grabed the sicko who by the way was a REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER MAN!!! this guy WAS NOT transgender or any of the other possible choices he was a sicko perve who knew if he dressed as a chick he could get into the restroom with ease. making laws were any of the transgender or any of the other options willl just make it even more easy for the sickos to pull off what this one did to my daughter. simple answer if you were born a guy then you use the mens room if you were born a girl you use the girls room and keep things very simple

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