Extra Pat Down Because of ‘Head Gear’

#ShitTSASays chronicles the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s ludicrous mistreatment and profiling of Muslims while flying. Send your story to editorial@muslim-girl-2021-production.mystagingwebsite.com.

I remember before Sept. 11, traveling was somewhat enjoyable. Your shoes stayed on, you could walk through security with your water bottle and your luggage’s weight limit was 70 pounds, not 50 pounds like nowadays.
I remember I traveled a couple of months right after Sept. 11 and TSA told me to throw away my straight hijab pin, because a 14-year-old’s hijab pin is a threat.
Here are some other real life phrases told to me by TSA:
TSA told me I needed an extra pat down because of my “head gear.” I told her, “Yes I know the drill — I am used to being racially profiled.” TSA replied, “No, items other than metal can be dangerous too.”
Another time, I was going through airport security and TSA was touching my chunky bright pink and silver watch. She literally asked me, and this is direct quote, “Is that a watch?”
I mean, how do I even respond to such a question? No lady, it’s a special device that looks like a watch but turns round objects into donuts and turns any liquid into coffee. I mean, that would be amazing — but it was just a watch.
A couple of years ago, I was running late to the airport and thought I was going to miss my flight. I was trying to rush through security and quickly took off my shoes, jacket and my 3.3-ounce liquids squished in a Ziplock bag. Of course, I was randomly chosen for a hand swab test, which I was used to by then. “I’m going to miss my flight,” I told TSA.
“Your test came out positive and we need to do an extra search on you,” TSA replied.
“Do you want to take your scarf off here or in the private room?” Of course, all eyes were on me. I was going to miss my flight. I told them to be checked in the private room. They patted me down some more and said this sometimes happens if my hands have cream or lotion on them. I was annoyed. I was angry.
But I didn’t miss my flight.
Thanks TSA, for making my travels extra stressful for the past couple of years. And thanks for the shit you say that make us roll our eyes and then share them with others and laugh at you.

Written by Aya Khalil