Wednesday, October 13, 2010

TSA slapped my wrist...reprimanded for nursing

I'm so ashamed. TSA felt the need to embarrass me for breastfeeding in public. I'll never do it again.


Below is a letter I wrote to Austin International Airport. This stigma against breastfeeding must stop. There is nothing more natural, and I plan to nurse whenever and wherever Singer needs to eat. I want to raise awareness about this incident. Please assist me in spreading the word, and feel free to contact me for details. It won't get easier to breastfeed unless we educate.

On the morning of October 12, 2010, my husband and I were traveling home to Philadelphia from Austin, Texas with our five-month-old son. At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport the line to the security checkpoint was completely backed up, and passengers were waiting over an hour to walk through the metal detectors.

I could tell our son was hungry and wanted to nurse, but we were stuck in line for at least another twenty minutes. I asked a nearby TSA officer if I could bypass the line to get through so that I could nurse, but he said no. So, my only other option was to nurse while standing in line. I was wearing a cardigan and nursing tank, and my son's body was positioned so that the majority of my breast was covered. I would wager that no one around us had any clue that I was nursing.

When we reached the security checkpoint where a female TSA officer was checking IDs and boarding passes, my son was almost finished nursing. The officer asked me to quit nursing until I reached the other side of security where I could find a restroom to nurse in because "the other passengers aren't used to seeing something so inappropriate". I was shocked by her demanding tone of voice, but I replied calmly, "there is nothing inappropriate about feeding my baby". She then threatened me by saying that if I did not stop nursing she would call someone to assist me. I have no idea what she meant by this ultimatum, but fearing that we would miss our flight, I unlatched my son from my breast and walked through security without any further conflict.

My husband and I were furious at being called "inappropriate" by an authority figure whose job was to monitor the airport's security. How my breastfeeding infant was a cause for TSA involvement, I will never understand.

In Philadelphia, families traveling with infants are ushered through a separate security line. I have never had any issues with TSA in Philadelphia International Airport.

By sending this email, I simply wish to raise a flag.



  1. I just got back from Florida and during one of the parades a woman just whipped out her breast to feed her infant and didn't bother to cover anything. I saw EVERYTHING. I wonder how TSA would have reacted to that? How ridiculous!

  2. You should also send a copy of your letter to TSA in Washington DC. and post it to That will get someone's attention.

  3. I fed all three of mine everywhere and anywhere. Of course some people have a problem with it, but its their problem, not yours.

    People are so excited about breasts--until you need to breastfeed. Breasts are beautiful no matter what they are out for!

    Someone always has a problem with something. Just smile and feed Singer anywhere you need to.

  4. Whip em out!

  5. Oh my goodness, I am so fired up for you!! I want to go unleash hell on that security guard! There is NO place inappropriate to feed a baby and I give you props for not getting out of the security line! We breastfeeding moms need to keep standing up for ourselves and our babies. Stay strong!


    This is the link to the "Letters to the Editor" for the Austin American Statesman newspaper. I would suggest in your letter that you name the person at the check in line (if you know it), the airline, and the gate #.

    There is no level of shame too great for the morons at the airport. Bring your wrath down upon them!

  7. I'm curious what her alternative would have been to doing exactly what you did... AND was she going to offer any suggestions on how to speed up the line to get you to the 'other side' & into the bathroom before your son freaked out from being so hungry??
    AND THINK SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE FIRST TO START JUDGING AND GETTING TICKED OFF WHEN SINGER STARTED CRYING FROM HUNGER??? I have no idea what is wrong with people!!! I am not a mom yet, but I'm hoping to be as natural as possible... government agencies/administrations already pump so many hormones etc into our food & drinks, I'd like to hold off giving them to our kids for as long as possible!!!
    WAY TO GO for writing the letter and spreading the word JESS!! I am sorry you had to go through that to share it though! :)

  8. National Council of State Legislatures site on breastfeeding laws at reads in part" "Forty-four states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location." The list they show includes Texas.

  9. Go get 'em!

    This is ridiculous and repugnant that anyone in a position of "authority" dealing with the public would be so ignorant. And a woman no less! (Though I think that sometimes, when it comes to this particular issue, ignorant women are the worst.)

    The more light you shed on this insanity to the better. Proud of you.

  10. i am so sorry for you and for your family. as an austinite who breastfeeds in public on a regular basis, i am surprised that you were treated with such disrespect. please know that there are lots of educated, loving families in austin that are disgusted by such ignorance.

  11. Hi Jess,

    I just wanted you to know that we stand behind you, and are doing our best to help spread the word. I wrote a brief article about the incident on our parenting website and linked to your blog. I have nursed three babies, and I was personally appalled at the way you were treated. Good for you for standing up for your rights, and for the rights of nursing moms and babies everywhere! The law is on your side, and so are we!

    Best regards,


  12. That is RIDICULOUS! Good for you for writing that letter. I will never understand why or how breastfeeding got the stamp of inappropriate when it's the healthiest thing you can do for your child. That TSA agent probably feeds her kids McDonald's on a regular basis. Geez, Jess, why don't you be more like her??? :)

  13. That's really sad. I'm not a mom but I plan on breastfeeding my kids until they are two (yeah I can hear the "gasps" already). I would say report her to whoever is in charge of that airport, go to the media, etc. It's a shame that society has sexualized breasts but yet we forget what women have breasts for: TO FEED THE INFANT/TODDLER, NOT FOR MEN's LUSTS AND ENJOYMENT.

  14. Since it is legal to NIP in Texas I would begin whatever the process is for filing a complaint. Not only the airport needs to know that the law is being ignored by those wishing to exert unlawful authority.

  15. That is so stupid. You handled it much better then I would. I wish people would realize that nursing is in no way "inappropriate". They are being inappropriate by not letting you either go by to nurse, or letting you walk through with baby attached. What is the big deal?

  16. You could get a lawyer friend to simply write a letter to TSA asking them to offer a mandatory class on educating their employees on breastfeeding. Sounds like they need one. Big businesses don't like PR like this, especially over the actions of one dumb employee.
    I wish all the airlines would require mandatory education classes about breastfeeding to ALL their employees.

  17. Friends, thanks so very much for the support. I knew I wasn't alone!!

  18. Stupid, uneducated Neanderthals. I certainly will never give that airline any of my money to go anywhere! I wish the medical profession would protest from this post from your blog! The airline should understand how utterly inappropriate THEY were! I think it is probably time to have docs write medical orders to the airlines now to allow this person to nurse their child, otherwise a prohibition against feeding a child should be a criminal act and punishable by fine, etc.

  19. Hasn't that TSA official broken the law? If she wants to play "authority" then you should go to a higher one. Writing to a newspaper is great for publicity to embarrass TSA but I would also be contacting the relevant higher authority, the local or federal Equal Oppertunity Commission or equalivant. If she hasn't broken the law then write to the relevant polition to get the law changed, and use this and other forems to get more people from your state to write as well. Good luck.