An Arizona woman has accused Delta Air Lines of discrimination after she was unable to buy a gender “X” ticket for her nonbinary child due to the company’s booking tools.
Dawn Henry, 52, slammed Delta in a lengthy series of tweets last week, saying she wanted to buy her 21-year-old a surprise ticket for Christmas when she discovered the carrier only provides male or female options.
But her child identifies as neither exclusively male nor female — and has an “X” marker on their birth certificate and Washington state driver’s license.
Delta “is discriminating against #nonbinary individuals and not allowing them to fly despite legal ID issued by states that allow X on birth certificates and state-issued IDs,” Henry said in the first of 19 tweets Thursday.
“This thread is the ongoing saga of me trying to purchase a ticket for my non-binary adult child,” she added.
The mother noted that the Transportation Security Administration “requires that the boarding pass reservation match your state issued ID. TSA accepts X as a gender marker on state IDs. The problem isn’t with TSA. The problem is airlines, like @Delta and @AlaskaAir,” Henry continued.
She said the Delta rep she called to make the reservation “was really trying to help, but she was unable to change the gender designation to X. I explained what TSA had told me about the #nonbinary designation,” she wrote.
“But after over 30 minutes on hold, she told me ‘they’ said it doesn’t matter what the ID says, use what’s on the birth certificate. I explained that the Birth Certificate also says X. I was put on hold again,” Henry continued.
“After some time on hold, a @Delta supervisor in Atlanta came on the line and told me that their system only uses male/female and I can only use one of those,” she said.
“I explained again that my adult child is #nonbinary and #LGBTQ and their ID is X and TSA requires them to match,” the frustrated mom added.
“The @Delta supervisor got short with me and said, sorry, that’s the policy. I said, are you telling me you aren’t allowing my #nonbinary #LGBTQ kid who has a perfectly legal state-issued ID to fly? She said no, I’m not saying that, it’s just the policy at @Delta,” Henry wrote.
She said she told the staffer that the policy is discriminatory.
“She said (talking loudly over me) that is not discriminatory, it’s just their policy. I said, Then the policy is discriminatory. I was upset by this point (not yelling, just super frustrated and in disbelief) and the @Delta supervisor was clearly not going to help in any form (and was shouting over me) so I hung up,” she wrote.
“Gender identity is protected under the Civil Rights Act. How is @Delta’s disparate treatment in refusing to issue a ticket with the correct TSA-required legal #nonbinary gender marker legal?” Henry asked.
The woman’s episode comes three years after Delta and other major US carriers said they would update their ticketing tools to be inclusive of nonbinary travelers, according to NBC News.
At least two of them — American and United — already provide an option for nonbinary travelers, the network reported.
“I am committed to fixing this, not just for my child, but for everyone who holds legal ID with an X gender marker,” Henry told NBC News. “My hope is that pressure on the airlines (not just Delta, but the others that have not updated their systems) will get this done.”
The TSA advises people to “use the same name, gender and birth date as indicated on your government-issued ID” and states that a TSA officer “will ensure the identification and boarding pass are authentic and match” at the security checkpoint.
A Delta rep told NBC News that adding a nonbinary option is a complicated process that requires several departments, but added that it would be made sometime this year.
“Delta Air Lines is a proud, long-time supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and we understand that being seen and acknowledged is part of having an equitable travel experience,” the spokesperson told the outlet in a statement.
“While we quickly shifted focus due to COVID in early 2020 to helping customers navigate the rapidly changing environment and government regulations, we are back on track to be able to offer a non-binary gender option in our booking systems in 2022,” the rep added.
Henry said that she is not seeking legal action against Delta.
“I am glad they are finally promising to follow through on a commitment they made four years ago, but a promise is not enough,” she told NBC News, adding that the company has not reached out to her directly.
“I will not stop pursuing this until every U.S. Airline with a discriminatory reservation system has made the long-overdue changes,” she added.
New York and New Jersey are among over a dozen states that legally recognize nonbinary people on identification documents.