This is something I've wondered. I watch border security shows (Australia Front Line, Nothing To Declare UK, Border Security Canada) and when customs officers are suspicious that travelers may be carrying drugs on their person, they give them a frisk search.

These searches are always performed by someone of the same gender. I wonder can the person request it be done by the opposite gender (i.e. if a male traveler, they get frisked by a female customs officer and vice versa).

How does this work in regards to transgender individuals?

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    If you are trans, then I expect you would be more likely to succeed by saying you identified as X gender and would prefer a search by someone of the same gender as the one you identify as. – DJClayworth Dec 8 '20 at 0:56
  • Anecdotally, I've had the opposite, where I was asked (I believe it was in Copenhagen) if I minded that an opposite-gender officer performed a patdown at airport security (it was a pretty quick and perfunctory one). But I had the option to request a same gender officer if I wanted, which seemed like a way for them to balance efficiency vs respecting people's preferences (how pragmatically Scandinavian of them). – Zach Lipton Dec 8 '20 at 4:10

In the United States, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality (emphasis added):

If you choose a pat-down to avoid the AIT machines or if the TSA agents require one for another reason, the pat-down must be performed by an officer of the same gender as the traveler. This is based on your gender presentation. So, for instance, transgender women should be searched by female officers, and transgender men should be searched by male officers. The gender listed on your identification documents and boarding passes should not matter for pat-downs, and you should not be subjected to personal questions about your gender. If TSA officers are unsure who should pat you down, they should ask you discreetly and respectfully. If you encounter any problem, ask to speak to a supervisor and clearly and calmly state how you should be treated.

This is consistent with the TSA's guidance on the issue.

Policies may, of course, differ in different countries, and may be inconsistently or otherwise unfairly applied anywhere.

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    +1. The last line of the answer is especially important, and at this point in time I expect it to not apply in many countries. Over time this may change. – Midavalo Dec 8 '20 at 2:06
  • @Midavalo totally agree. I edited the sentence to add a few more relevant links, but was unable to find any global survey on the subject, and suspect that no one may have yet taken the (considerable) time to compile one. – mlc Dec 8 '20 at 4:08

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