Chille Bergstrom, a 9-year-old boy, was detained with his family at the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix on Aug. 20 because of his pacemaker (video below).
"We were told immediately by the TSA that he was not allowed to be screened alternatively and instead would need an exemption," Chille’s mother, Ali Bergstrom, told KMSP.
The Bergstroms didn't have that exemption and were delayed for over an hour.
The boy was born with Golden Hars syndrome, which has caused him to have four heart defects, undergo 15 open heart surgeries and wear a pacemaker.
The Bergstroms normally ask the TSA for alternative two-minute screening, instead of metal detectors, and always present documentation to justify the alternative screening. This time, they were denied the alternative screening.
"Shocked beyond belief, in walks the head of Department of Homeland Security for the entire airport, followed by other supervisors, and managers with 10 other people from TSA," Ali stated.
"And also four police officers," Chille added. "With everything, guns, Tasers, all that."
Chille said that he asked the armed officials: "Could you please explain to me what is happening right now? Because I’m not used to this."
"At that point is when the TSA agent said he wouldn’t be flying today," Ali added.
The TSA sent a written statement to KMSP that said: "TSA is committed to ensuring all travelers are treated with respect and courtesy. TSA is reviewing Saturday’s incident and working to contact the family."
The sentence: "TSA is committed to ensuring all travelers are treated with respect and courtesy" also appears word-for-word on a TSA website page entitled: "Transgender Passengers."
Despite the TSA agent's alleged promise that the family would not be flying that day, they were able to get on a plane home to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, but it was a 14-hour trip due to weather delays and the TSA.
Beyond the TSA's canned response for transgender people, the Bergstroms have not heard from the TSA or received an apology.
A security video of airport police taking down Hannah Cohen, a 19-year-old St. Jude Children's Research Hospital patient, in the Memphis International Airport on June 30, 2015, was published on Aug. 11 by The Commercial Appeal.
The video shows Hannah and her mother, Shirley, talking to police as Hannah struggles with one of the officers who takes her down to the floor.
Hannah subsequently filed a federal lawsuit that says she is impaired due to having a brain tumor removed and undergoing radiation treatment for her cancer.