The Transportation Security Administration spent $18.6 million in funding on "non-binary screening systems," which are set to be rolled out in January.
Currently, TSA screeners decide whether a traveler is male or female and press a button for the body scanner corresponding with their appearance as the system scans males and females differently. And people who say their gender was improperly assumed may ask for a re-screening before a physical pat-down, and TSA rules mandate for travelers to be patted down by officers of the same gender that they appear.
Using funding from last fiscal year's Omnibus Appropriations fund, the money went toward working with the manufacturer of Advanced Imaging Technology to update the algorithm for "increased accuracy and efficiency," Fox News reported Thursday.
The technology update is scheduled to be available by January.
Of the more than 26,500 annual TSA screening complaints, about 6% are from those who are members of the LGBT community, which is roughly consistent with the percentage of people who identify as LGBT.
The TSA’s Travel Engagement Executive Director Jose Bonilla said he believes the new technology will lead to fewer pat-downs and complaints from minority communities.
"This technology should really be gender-neutral you know it really should be, and we’re there," Bonilla told Vermont-based outlet WCAX channel 3 news.