Determining sex is often a requirement of checks at airports and stations. But if staff are unsure, how they respond is key

When Londoner Jamie Liang reached the Eurostar security checkpoint at London St Pancras International he put his possessions on the conveyor belt and entered the body scanner. It beeped. Instead of searching him, he said officials summoned him to one side, demanded to see his passport and, when he repeatedly asked why, threatened to call the police. The reason was eventually explained loudly, he says, in front of other passengers: security staff were unclear whether he was male or female and wanted proof of his sex before deciding which official should search him.

“I identify as a gay male,” says Liang. “If you benchmark me against a cage fighter you might consider me to be a bit on the feminine side. ‘Gender-neutral’ is probably the best way to describe me. The protocols of Eurostar St Pancras seem to have an issue with processing passengers like myself. I was treated like a criminal by security pulling me aside and shouting rudely and I was publicly humiliated by being asked private information in front of a large audience.”

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