The LGBT community faces discrimination to varying degrees, depending on where they are in the world and how they present themselves. At the top of the list, facing the harshest discrimination and barriers, are trans individuals who are often unfairly singled-out when traveling. Today we’re going to talk about some trans travel advice and what you can do to best prepare yourself for your journey to travel.
Trans Travel Advice
Research your destination
The biggest factor indicating whether or not you should expect a difficult time when traveling as trans is your destination. There are nearly 80 countries where it is illegal to be gay, which only means it will be tougher for trans individuals to gain access as themselves. Many trans travelers resort to hiding their identity for fear of denial of entry, or worse. If you are planning on visiting as trans, you need to do your due diligence and act on the side of caution in order to protect your safety and have a pleasant experience. Here is a list of the countries where being gay is against the law or where government-sponsored homophobia is in practice:
While no country in Europe is on the list, several European countries have laws that affect the LGBT community, primarily the transgender community and transgender travelers. Russia, Lituania, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus have adopted anti-LGBT agendas, or are currently discussing their implementation. Furthermore, several countries enforce gender sterilization for trans individuals seeking to change their gender in their legal documents. This means individuals must undergo Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) in order for their documents to be updated. Here is the 2016 Trans Rights of Europe Map & Index provided by Transgender Europe:
Update your documents
Documentation when traveling is always very important, but it is even more so for transgender travelers. Your documentation should be updated to reflect your current name on all passports or IDs, and your picture should be updated if you no longer appear like you do on your documents. Ensuring documentation is updated will save you time and frustration whenever you encounter officials, particularly the TSA at airports.
Protect your medication
If you are taking hormones or other important medication, ensure that it is properly packaged. Don’t forget to bring proof of your prescription from your doctor. When traveling with needles, syringes, or other medical equipment, place it all in one easy to remove clear plastic bag and inform TSA about it when you approach screening. If you simply tell them in advance, there should be no issues.
Going through security
The TSA and similar agencies have put into practice something that is known as Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) during the screening process. This machine scans your entire body and gives officers a complete look at your naked body. It looks for certain body parts in specific areas. If you have not had surgery you will be pulled aside. If you are uncomfortable with that, you can ask to be screened through other measures and may be taken to a private room to be screened by an agent of your gender, as per your specifications. You may bring a friend along if you feel it is necessary.
If you wear prosthetic pieces or binders, be sure they do not contain any metals in them, as this will set off the metal detectors, causing unwanted attention.
Travel with friends
If possible, you should travel with people that can be there for support if anything should happen. Not only can they help ease any nerves you may have, they will also be witness to any injustices you may be put through and can help ensure your safety. If you are traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, be sure to have someone you can trust to help you in case any issues arise. Here is a video of transgender model Gigi Gorgeous being denied entry into Dubai, UAE, because of her gender identity and expression:
The most important thing when traveling is enjoying your experience, and a big part of that is being safe and comfortable when doing so. Do your best to prepare yourself for your journey to travel, whether you are a transgender traveler or not. Follow our trans travel advice and stay safe wherever you go!