Airport officers tried to forcefully check a transgender activist after she requested a female officer conduct the search.
Indian trans activist, Abheena Aher, was flying back from Kenya to her home in Mumbai had a stop over in Abu Dhabi airport.
When Aher passed through the metal detector it went off and airport officers pulled her to the side to check her passport.
The officials asked Aher to explain the T in her passport. Female officers refused to search Aher and she was, understandably, uncomfortable with men conducting the search.
“They were constantly asking me questions in public whether you are a man or woman, to which I kept replying that I am a woman and a woman should check me,” she wrote on Facebook.
“The officers were suspicious as to why I was not letting them touch my body and insisted on a woman to do that.”
“The women officers refused to check me because another officer came and said I am half man half woman. Finally, two men forcefully tried to check me physically.”
Aher refused the check stating it was a violation of her human rights.
“Another office suggested I remove all my jewellery and shoes. Finally I was cleared to go, but this experience shows how important it is to work on global advocacy on trans issues,” she said.
“It’s gross discrimination by ground staff based on gender for having a ‘transgender’ passport,” Aher said.
The Supreme Court of India has recognised a third gender since 2014.
“Recognition of transgenders as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue,” the top court said.
Abu Dhabi Airport said that the incident, though unfortunate, was necessary as detailed searches will have to be carried wherever deemed necessary.
“It is unfortunate that this passenger was uncomfortable with the screening process. Abu Dhabi Airports places the safety and security of our passengers as our top priority and detailed searches have to be carried out where necessary,” an official statement said.