I-Team: Woman with prosthetic leg says she felt humiliated at TSA checkpoint

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CANFIELD, Ohio- The FOX 8 I-Team is investigating what happened to a woman with a prosthetic leg at an airport security checkpoint.

Heather Bowser says she travels several times a year and this is the first time she was asked to go through this type of security procedure.

“My initial reaction is this is my right as a human to be treated with dignity and now I am supposed to take my pants down in order to be able to fly,” Bowser explained to FOX 8 Monday.

Bowser has spent her life helping and fighting for others. She is a daughter of a Vietnam veteran and an Agent Orange activist, as well as a mental health counselor in the Youngstown area.

She said her encounter with TSA agents this weekend left her feeling like she now has to defend herself.

“I was just so incredibly angry,” Bowser said. “I am an activist at heart and it instantly made me want to sit down there for every disabled person that has been harassed at the gate and say, ‘no, this enough; I can’t do this.'”

She was at the Minneapolis/ St.Paul International Airport when she said she was told agents would have to swab the top part of her prosthetic leg. “They swabbed the bottom of my leg and my hands,” Bowser said. “Then they said they needed to swab the top of my socket.”

She said she told the agent no.  “I said if you have to swab the top of my leg that means I have to take my pants down and I don’t want to do that,” Bowser said. “That’s part of my body. I felt that was dehumanizing.”

She said she was taken into a private room that looked like a breakroom for employees. She said two female TSA agents were in the room with her.

“I felt like I was in a storage closet,” Bowser said.

She added that a TSA agent was told if she didn’t comply the police would be called and she would not be allowed to fly.

“I was worried about my family. I wanted to get home,” Bowser said.

She said once the test was completed she was free to go.

She said she decided to speak out because she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else.

“I can’t allow this,” Bowser said. “I have to stay an advocate to make sure people are treated humanely.”

Bowser filed a written complaint with TSA.

The TSA released the following statement Monday evening to FOX 8 News:

“TSA is aware of an allegation made by a passenger who was screened at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport over the weekend. We are looking into the matter to ensure that our screening protocols were followed. We encourage the passenger to reach out to TSA so we can work with her directly to address her concerns.”

**Editor’s note: This script was updated to reflect a statement from TSA**

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