A fascinating article is coming out in this Summer/Fall's edition of "Social Research." Written by the highly-regarded Brooklyn College political scientist Paisley Currah along with Tara Mulqueen, it makes the point that use of gender by the Transportation Security Administration reduces security not only for transgender individuals, but also for the TSA and the nation.
Gender is one of the few pieces of biometric information currently in use, and biometric information is seen as the "holy grail" of securitization. Thus, TSA has been unwilling to drop the use of gender from identification schemes despite the fact that it causes major problems for transgender passengers.
Currah and Mulqueen make the fascinating point that use of gender in securitization produces less security, rather than more. The purpose of the TSA securitization program is not to verify identity, but to compare passengers against "no-fly" list and ensure that the passenger is not on the list. TSA claims that including gender is going to assist in identifying passengers who belong on the no-fly list because a lot of foreign names do not code as gender-specific to TSA agents.
As Currah and Mulqueen document in careful detail, securitization seeks to crystallize a state of affairs, as found at the time of the creation of the identity document, and produce a warranty that no change will occur. Theoretically, at least, this will ensure absolute verification of identity. But because gender is, among other things, a performance, inherently unstable, absolute verification is an impossible project, a logical impossibility. The securitization project produces only the image of certainty. By providing a false sense of security, it increases danger because it represents that intelligent observation can be replaced by concentrating on an ambiguous data point on a piece of paper.
TSA has attempted to avoid this problem by suggesting that transgender passengers carry a letter from their doctor attesting to their trans status. Aside from being a major invasion of privacy, the idea that an unverified letter is going to solve the ambiguities of gender is obviously ridiculous.
Here's Dr. Currah describing the paper at a conference:
Paisley Currah and Tara Mulqueen, "Securitizing Gender: Identity, Biometrics, and Transgender Bodies at the Airport," Social Research 78:2 (Summer 2011): 556-582. (Abstract)