To the TSA Agent Who Likes My Watch

I’m glad you like my watch. It’s pretty, but I don’t know what brand it is since it was a gift. I’m wondering, though, if the time to best start small talk with me is when you have your hands literally in my pants.

I’ve gotten lots of pat downs from TSA, nearly all of which are due to the fact that my pants are baggy in places where they “shouldn’t be” because you code me as female and I wear men’s pants — which is something your machine can’t handle, apparently. This is the first time, however, that fingers in the waistband were included in standard procedure.

And I get it. You’re just trying to make small talk, and my watch is pretty so you thought you’d tell me. I appreciate the intention, but the part you missed while you had your hands in my pants is that this event wasn’t a trivial awkward inconvenience for me. There was no ice to break.

This happens all the time. Every time I step through your machine, I pause and hope that this time I’m clear and can just carry on to collect my things. And every time I’m stopped, I feel shame for being the person your machine can’t figure out.

You probably didn’t mean it, but your comment dismissed my everyday experience of TSA pat downs as just some awkward part of your job. I think you meant to put me at ease, but what I really needed was to be seen. I needed you to acknowledge that perhaps this wasn’t a one-time thing for me, that this wasn’t something to be joked about, that maybe this was just going to be shitty for me no matter how much you adored my watch.

But since you love it so much, I think it’s from Etsy.



PS. You asked if my boyfriend gave it to me. Don’t assume my boo is a dude. Kthx.

Header Image Credit: Rare.us


Katie Barnes (they/them/their) is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer. While at St. Olaf College studying History and (oddly) Russian (among other things), Katie fell in love with politics, and doing the hard work in the hard places. A retired fanfiction writer, Katie now actually enjoys writing with their name attached. Katie actually loves cornfields, and thinks there is nothing better than a summer night's drive through the Indiana countryside. They love basketball and are a huge fan of the UConn women's team. When not fighting the good fight, you can usually find Katie watching sports, writing, or reading a good book.

Katie Barnes is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer.

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