Shawn Johnson Said She Was 'Groped and Yelled' At By a TSA Agent While Traveling with Breast Milk
Fans of former professional gymnast Shawn Johnson know that not only is the four-time Olympic medalist now a proud mom of two, but she's also an outspoken advocate for a personalized approach to parenting, breastfeeding, in particular. So when Johnson endured what she called "one of the worst experiences" she's had, the 29-year-old took to her Instagram Stories to detail what happened when a Transportation Security Administration agent allegedly stopped as she traveled with breast milk.
"To the lady at the TSA checkpoint having a bad day... I'm really sorry you have had a bad day but taking it out on me was unnecessary," wrote Johnson on her Instagram Story, which also featured the former Olympian wearing a surgical mask while looking at the camera. "I can honestly say that was one of the worst experiences I have [sic]." she continued.
In a second photo posted to her Instagram Story, Johnson wrote, "We as mamas have a duty to our babies and a right in this world to carry breast milk through security. Having you public [sic] humiliate me in proving to you it was actually breast milk was against my rights. To then be groped and yelled at in public was excessive. I know you were doing your job...but so was I." (Related: This Woman's Heartbreaking Confession About Breastfeeding Is #SoReal)
Johnson didn't share additional details about the time and location of the incident, but a TSA spokesperson told Shape that "breast milk is, of course, permitted." "We are supportive of passengers traveling with breast milk and other essential nutrition for their children and that is why we provide the details on our screening protocols on our website," continued the TSA spokesperson.
To the representative's point, the TSA website states that "formula, breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities in carry-on bags." Travelers are instructed to "remove these items from [their] carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of [their] belongings. [Travelers] do not need to travel with [their] child to bring breast milk," according to the TSA's website.
Again, it's unclear what the details were in Johnson's situation, which the representative says would be necessary in order to investigate the situation. But further information on the TSA's website indicates that travelers must "inform the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process" if they are carrying "formula, breast milk, and juice in excess of 3.4 ounces" in their carry-on bag and that these liquids are typically screened by X-ray.
The website also states that "TSA officers may need to test liquids for explosives or concealed prohibited items" and that "officers may ask [travelers] to open the container and/or have [them] transfer a small quantity of the liquid to a separate empty container or dispose of a small quantity, if feasible." However, if a traveler does not want the formula, breast milk, and/or juice to be X-rayed or opened, "additional steps will be taken to clear the liquid and [they] or the traveling guardian will undergo additional screening procedures, to include a pat-down and screening of other carry-on property," according to the TSA' website.
While Johnson may have omitted any explicit details regarding what she experienced during her travels, one thing's for sure: no mom should have to endure any form of scrutiny or humiliation to justify their parenting choices. Here's hoping Johnson is able to sort out the situation if she chooses to pursue it, and doesn't have to go through something similar ever again. (Related: 23 Celebrities Who've Gotten Real About Breastfeeding)