British fashion designer Tan France, the style expert on Netflix's Emmy Award-winning series "Queer Eye," is not happy - and it's not because boot-cut jeans for men are reportedly making a comeback.
The 35-year-old TV personality took to Twitter and Instagram on Wednesday with scathing words about the Transportation and Security Administration, accusing the agency of profiling him and adding his name to a "list of concern." France is an openly gay Muslim man of Pakistani descent, who was born in the UK but now resides in Salt Lake City.
"I've been put through extra security checks 3 times this week, and was just told by a TSA agent it's because my name is on a list," France tweeted to his more than 329,000 followers, tagging TSA's official Twitter account. "WTF? I'm brown but that does NOT mean I'm a damn security risk!!!"
In a series of short videos posted to his Instagram page after boarding his flight, France, appearing thoroughly frustrated, explained his travel ordeal in detail to his 2.1 million Instagram followers.
"I'm . . . fuming," said France, using an expletive. "I just got through . . . security at the airport. It took me over two hours. This is now the third time this week."
For France, who said he has TSA PreCheck membership, the often arduous airport security process usually only takes "15, 20 minutes."
TSA touts the PreCheck program - a five-year membership costing US$85 - as a way for travellers to save "time and stress," noting "you can speed through security" without the hassle of taking off shoes, belts and light jackets or removing laptops and approved liquids. But in much smaller font, and marked by a small red warning icon, the text reads, "TSA uses unpredictable security measures, both seen and unseen, throughout the airport. All travellers will be screened, and no individual is guaranteed expedited screening."
On Instagram, France said he was recently informed by a TSA agent that his "name is on a list of concern."
"So here's how this goes down, and it's gone down three times this week," France said. "What happens is when you're checking in, they tell you that you can't use your PreCheck because there's a security issue."
Then, once he arrives at security, he said he is taken out of line and searched.
"They search you and they give you a pat down, which is humiliating, where they check everything," he continued. "Then, they go through all of your bags and they take a good 45 minutes to go through your bag."
But France said his difficulties didn't end there. Upon arriving at the gate, France said ticketing agents would not allow him to immediately board his flight because they were "confused" by the various TSA stamps on his boarding pass.
"The reason why I wanted to post this is so I can tag TSA," France said in the final Instagram video clip, which is captioned "I. am. not. a. security. risk."
He continued: "Hopefully, they'll see this at some point and figure out why ... they're treating me like this, because I know the answer. I know why I'm being profiled."
TSA did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post late Wednesday night, but told the Hill in a statement that the agency can't comment on "the security designation for specific individuals," adding, "there are a number of reasons a passenger can be selected for additional screening, including by random designation."
The statement also noted that all airline passengers, "regardless of race, gender, or religion," are screened at checkpoints, the Hill reported.
The agency did respond to France's tweet, about 10 minutes after it was posted, directing him to the Department of Homeland Security's Traveler Redress Inquiry Program. The program is a way for people to find out more about their travel-related issues, which includes problems with watch lists and "situations where travelers believe they have been unfairly or incorrectly delayed, . . . or identified for additional screening."
"We're sorry to hear this," TSA said in its tweet to France.
TSA has long been criticised for using airport screening methods that may encourage ethnic and racial profiling. In 2015, a leaked document revealed a list of suspicious behaviours that airport screeners are instructed to look for under the controversial behavioral-detection program, known as Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, The Post's Josh Hicks reported. Travelers exhibiting the flagged behaviours - ranging from appearing nervous to showing signs of having recently shaved a beard - are assigned values on a point scale. The points then determine whether additional screenings or law-enforcement referrals are necessary, Hicks reported.
On social media, a number of France's outraged fans rallied behind him.
"I understand the role of the TSA but having him on a list because he is brown or Muslim is not OK anymore," one Twitter user wrote in a lengthy thread. "You are way past keeping the sky safe & into humiliating a person because of the color of their skin or religion."
France, the person wrote, is "owed an apology for having to deal with a truly humiliating process every time he flies on a commercial flight!"