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Have TSA Agents Searched Your Hair in Airport Security Lines? Tell Us.

In 2015, the Transportation Security Administration agreed to train airport security screeners in hair pat-downs. Help us figure out how it’s going.

Passengers wait in line at the Continental Airlines check-in counter at Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey. (Michael Albans/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

We want to know if airline passengers believe they have faced discrimination in hair pat-downs.

In 2015, the Transportation Security Administration agreed to train airport security screeners in hair pat-downs, particularly of African-American women, and to monitor complaints about the pat-downs to assess any potential racial discrimination.

This followed a complaint letter filed in 2014 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California on behalf of Malaika Singleton, an African-American woman whose hair was searched within a week at two different airports. After Singleton walked through a full-body scanner, she was stopped by agents who grabbed and squeezed her sisterlocks from top to bottom, she alleged.

The TSA says hair pat-downs are conducted “to detect prohibited and potentially dangerous items” that might be concealed in a person’s hair. According to the federal agency, screening devices might set off an alarm if a person is wearing hair accessories like pins, clips and wraps; hairpieces like extensions or wigs; or if the hair is styled in a ponytail, bun or braids.

Black women, meanwhile, have continued to complain about hair pat-downs.

If your hair has been manually inspected while going through airport security, we want to hear from you. Have TSA officers patted down your hair? Did they run their fingers through your hair or frisk your bun or ponytail? Do you feel you were being singled out because of your race? Did you file a complaint with the TSA? Tell us about it.

We’d also love to hear from TSA officers who conduct hair inspections. We want to hear about your training and instructions, as well as any practical concerns you’ve faced on the job.

We won’t voluntarily publish any information you share without your permission. If you’d rather talk on Signal or WhatsApp, which are more secure, send a message to 347-244-2134 or email brenda.medina@propublica.org.

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