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 from with our five-month-old son. At 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.