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Who is Rose Montoya? TikToker calls TSA 'transphobic' as she recounts 'immense anxiety' about airport scanners

In a video discussing the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) rules and practices specifically when it comes to trans people, Montoya, who is a trans woman, spoke about her difficulties in navigating airport security
UPDATED MAR 22, 2021
TikToker Rose Montoya shared about the 'anxiety' and difficulty she has to go through when navigating airport security as a trans woman
(Instagram/ rosalynnemontoya)
TikToker Rose Montoya shared about the 'anxiety' and difficulty she has to go through when navigating airport security as a trans woman (Instagram/ rosalynnemontoya)

TikTok user Rose Montoya took to the social networking site to share a video discussing the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) rules and practices specifically when it comes to trans people. Discussing how navigating airports is a whole different, and difficult, experience for trans people Montoya explained the ordeal she has to go through. 

Captioning the post, "We need to change how the scanners function and educate TSA about trans people," Montoya opened up about the difficulties. "Can we talk about how horrible it is to travel while being trans sometimes?" she began the video.


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'TSA is Transphobic'

"I always have immense anxiety leading up to going through airport security. This being said I totally recognize the privilege of having all my documents be correct. The gender marker on my license for example says female," she said. "But going through the scanner, there’s a male scanner and female scanner for the TSA checkpoint. And looking at me, I look like a woman and I am a woman, so that’s great. I love having cis assuming privilege when I feel unsafe such as in an airport."

"But going through the scanner I always have an anomaly between my legs that sets off the alarm. So she asked me if I had anything in my pants and I said no. So she said maybe it’s just the metal buttons on your shorts so let’s scan you again," she shared. When she went through it again, Montoya still set it off. At this point, she said she was trans so they might as well pat her down. "Her solution was to ask me if I want to be scanned as a man instead. I didn’t, but I ended up doing it… and my boobs set it off, because of course," Montaya said.

Trying to make a joke of the situation, Montaya told security officers, "Don’t worry, there’s just a lot of plastic in there, it’s fine." The TSA official then insisted that someone would have to pat Rose down, and asked her if she wanted a man to do it, to which she said, "Absolutely not."

When sharing the video on Instagram, Montoya captioned the post, "TSA is Transphobic." She went on to write. "Note: There is one scanner with two options. TSA agents have to make split second decisions on whether to scan for a 'male' or 'female.' It’s been proven that the system we have in place is broken and doesn’t work. We also need to train people on how to treat trans people. If I tell you I’m a trans woman, it most likely means I want to be scanned as a woman, treated as a woman, and patted down by a woman. It’s incredibly frustrating and anxiety ridden to travel while trans. I’ll be looking into precheck for the future."


Immense online support

Ever since Montoya shared the video of her calling out TSA and its practices, she has received outpouring support from social media users. While some expressed remorse and solidarity, others shared their own experiences. "The TSA has been called out before and there response was basically 'yeah we know and we don’t care. Either deal with our bigotry or don’t fly,'" one person commented on Montoya's Instagram video. "It’s terrifying. I had to go on a business trip three times in three months when training for work. I also had my team with me who didn’t know I was transgender and it was before any of my surgeries. I got pulled aside every time and had to explain that I was transgender. It was embarrassing to be called out and then I had to lie to the all male team I work with why there was a problem. The TSA agents were terrible. My license is current and valid but doesn’t have my correct gender. I have to wait for my birth certificate from another country so it has been hell getting it changed. I got it changed in court but not on my license yet. It is horrifying and there needs to be change at the airport period. Period. Thank you for posting this," another user commented.

"The one positive experience I've had going through the scanner was when the TSA agent working happened to also be trans. Extraordinarily intimate moment, but sadly the norm is far more terrifying," another recounted. 

Who is Rose Montoya?

This is not the first time that Montoya had to face discrimination. According to Los Angeles Blade, in December 2020, her TikTok account was permanently deleted for violating their community guidelines. She had said that her account was deleted because she is a "Latina trans woman". 


Via her Instagram, she shares about her personal journey and spreads information about the trans community. She is very active on social media and has even called out Donald Trump on Instagram. After the U.S. Capitol riots, she urged people to text "impeach".