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- The Transportation Security Administration spent $18.6 million on gender-neutral screening technology, not "hundreds of millions," as a video claimed.
A man recording a video while in line at the airport Transportation Security Administration checkpoint had another agenda besides flying.
In the video posted Jan. 19 on Facebook that’s been viewed nearly 500,000 times, the man said he wanted to identify as a woman to see what TSA agents would do, and filmed his interaction with the agents.
PolitiFact identified the man in the video as Christopher Key, an anti-vaccine activist who has made headlines for staging demonstrations that include telling Walmart pharmacists they would be executed for administering vaccines, and encouraging his followers to drink their own urine to combat COVID-19.
At the 2:50-minute mark in the more-than-5 minute video, Key told the TSA agents, "You guys spent a couple hundred million dollars on those that identify as binary or transgender, okay, so I’m opting out and I just want to see how my taxpayer money is being spent."
After being patted down and leaving the TSA checkpoint, Key turned the camera on himself and told viewers: "Our government has just spent millions of dollars for those that identify as (non) binary and transgender. And I was trying to find out today what our money was spent on, but I got pat down by a woman. So, why don’t we all start identifying the opposite sex, and make it as uncomfortable for them as they make it uncomfortable for us."
The video was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The price tag that Key assigned to the new TSA gender-neutral screening technology misses the mark by a mile.
On March 31, 2022, the TSA announced it had received $18.6 million to improve its Advanced Imaging Technology units in airports, otherwise known as the screening machines passengers pass through at TSA checkpoints.
Agency press secretary R. Carter Langston told PolitiFact that before the change, the screening units required that TSA agents signal on the machines whether a passenger is male or female, based on the passenger’s physical appearance.
The new technology, which was rolled out in airports in December, will "improve the customer experience of travelers who previously have been required to undergo additional screening due to alarms in sensitive areas," the March 2022 news release said.
Langston said the technology will also reduce the number of false alarms, which improves efficiency.
Key claimed the TSA spent "a couple hundred million dollars" on gender-neutral screening technology.
TSA spent $18.6 million on gender-inclusive screening technology, not "hundreds of millions."
We rate the claim False.
Facebook video, Jan. 19, 2023
The Washington Post, Self-proclaimed ‘Vaccine Police’ tells Walmart pharmacists they ‘could be executed’ for administering shots, Aug. 19, 2021
Daily Beast, Anti-Vax Leader Urges Followers to Drink Their Own Urine to Fight COVID, Jan. 9, 2022
Transportation Security Administration, TSA announces measures to implement gender-neutral screening at its checkpoints, March 31, 2022
NewsNation, TSA rolling out gender-neutral screening in January | Morning in America, Dec. 15, 2022
Senate Appropriations Committee, FY2022 Omnibus Appropriations Package - Topline Summary, accessed Jan. 26, 2023
Interview with R. Carter Langston, press secretary for the Transportation Security Administration, Jan. 26
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