In celebration of TDOV 2023 (Transgender Day of Visibility), or International Day of Transgender Visibility, we want to examine the challenges and satisfactions of traveling with a gender identity different from the norm imposed by this heterocisnormative society.
Here you will also be able to find some simple, easy-to-implement steps to support and be an ally person to the transgender and non-binary community. There are also some tips for transgender people themselves who wish to set out on the journey with an extra baggage of confidence.
The challenges of traveling as a trans and/or non-binary person
Despite the progress made in the struggle for LGBTQ+ equality over the past half-century, problems of discrimination and marginalization persist.
Traveling as a transgender or nonbinary person involves facing several challenges, including concealing one’s identity to avoid discrimination, security issues at the airport with body scanners, and difficulties related to documentation and legal protections.
In addition, traveling as a transgender or nonbinary person requires emotional and physical preparation. For example, wearing a binder during a long flight may be uncomfortable but may be necessary to avoid passport complications. Finding a balance between personal comfort, safety, and emotional energy is crucial.
In addition to the challenges already mentioned, there are other difficulties that transgender and/or nonbinary people may face while traveling:
Housing. Finding accommodations that are welcoming and inclusive can be difficult for trans and/or nonbinary people. Some hotels or hostels may not be equipped to handle the specific needs of these people, such as the ability to choose a preferred pronoun or the availability of gender-neutral bathrooms.
Access to health care. Trans and non-binary people may need specific medical care, such as hormone therapies or surgical procedures, that may not be readily accessible in their home country. Finding culturally competent health care providers and managing medical prescriptions can be a challenge.
Traveling in groups. Trans and nonbinary people traveling in groups may feel isolated or discriminated against if other group members do not understand or respect their gender identity. They may also face situations where they are forced to share accommodations or bathroom facilities with people they do not know or feel uncomfortable with. In this regard, if you are a transgender person, we recommend that you choose LGBTQ+ friendly group trips, such as those by Quiiky Travel.
Language and communication. The language barrier can be a problem for trans and/or nonbinary people, especially when it comes to communicating their gender identity and needs. In some languages, for example, there may be no terms or expressions that adequately describe trans and nonbinary identities.
Local culture and attitudes. Trans and nonbinary people may, in addition, encounter local cultures and attitudes that do not recognize or accept gender diversity. This can lead to situations of discrimination, marginalization or, in the most serious cases, violence. In this regard, it is important to find out about the local culture and related laws before embarking on a trip. It may be helpful, for example, to consult a map of the safest countries.
Socialization and relationships. Establishing relationships while traveling can be difficult for trans and nonbinary people, as they may face prejudice and discrimination. Finding safe and inclusive spaces, such as LGBTQ+ events or meeting places, for example, can help overcome these challenges.
Travel insurance. Obtaining adequate travel insurance that covers the specific medical needs of trans and nonbinary people can be complicated. It is important to read the terms and conditions of the insurance carefully and make sure it covers any therapies, procedures, or medications needed while traveling.
Trans and nonbinary people, therefore, face several challenges while traveling. However, getting informed, planning ahead, and seeking support from allies and LGBTQ+ communities can help make the trip safer, more inclusive, and enjoyable.
Some satisfactions that trans* and/or non-binary people experience while traveling
Traveling as a transgender or nonbinary person also offers moments of joy and satisfaction. For example, diverse representation in hospitality industry marketing materials can make guests feel welcomed and belonging. In addition, many tourism industry organizations are implementing training programs on LGBTQ+ inclusiveness to provide positive experiences for transgender and/or nonbinary turistə.
But there are other joys to be experienced as well:
Authenticity. Traveling can provide an opportunity to express oneself freely and authentically, especially if one comes from a background where gender identity is not understood or accepted. Exploring new places can give trans and nonbinary people the chance to experience their gender identity without restriction or judgment.
Community and belonging. While traveling, trans and nonbinary people may meet others with similar experiences or find welcoming LGBTQ+ communities. This can create a sense of belonging and support, which can be especially rewarding for those who feel isolated in their environment.
Personal growth. Facing the challenges of the journey can lead to greater resilience and self-awareness for trans and nonbinary people. Overcoming obstacles and learning how to handle difficult situations can strengthen self-confidence and the ability to adapt to different circumstances.
Education and awareness. Traveling allows trans and nonbinary people to gain a greater understanding of different cultures, traditions, and laws regarding gender identity. This knowledge can be useful in educating others and promoting understanding and acceptance of trans and nonbinary identities.
Activism and change. Travel can provide an opportunity to raise awareness about gender equality and issues affecting transgender and nonbinary people. Sharing experiences and attending events or meetings can help promote positive change and advocate for the rights of trans and nonbinary people around the world.
Thus, in addition to the obvious and clear challenges one may face as a transgender and/or nonbinary person, travel can offer unique opportunities for growth, learning, and connection with others.
Transgender travel guide: tips for being a good ally of transgender and/or non-binary tourists
To be an ally of trans and non-binary tourists, it is important to show solidarity, be prepared, ask questions, face challenges together, and be patient and understanding. For example, if traveling with a trans or non-binary person, it is critical to understand that travel can be stressful for them, for example in dealing with situations such as being gender-swapped or being searched.
The following suggestions are also important:
Listen and respect. Listening to the experiences and needs of trans and nonbinary travelers is critical. Respecting their gender identity, pronouns, and personal choices is essential to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment.
Intervene when necessary. If there is discrimination or mistreatment of transgender and/or nonbinary people, it is important to intervene appropriately and safely to support the person involved.
Create inclusive spaces. Encourage the creation of safe and inclusive spaces for trans and nonbinary people, such as organizing LGBTQ+ events or proposing inclusive policies in places where people work or live.
Share resources and information. Spreading useful information about travel, housing, health care, and other resources specific to trans* and nonbinary people can make a difference in their journey.
Advice for transgender and/or non-binary tourists
For transgender and/or non-binary tourists, it is important to consider various factors when traveling to ensure a pleasant and safe experience. Some helpful tips include the following:
Preliminary research. Before planning a trip, it is helpful to find out about local laws, cultural norms, and acceptance towards the LGBTQ+ community in your chosen destination. This can help avoid unpleasant situations and ensure greater safety during the trip.
Accommodation planning. Look for accommodations that have positive reviews from other LGBTQ+ travelers or are explicitly LGBTQ-friendly. Also, check if the lodging offers specific amenities such as gender-neutral bathrooms or other conveniences that can make your stay more comfortable.
Medical Preparation. Ensure that you have any necessary medications, such as hormones or other prescribed medications, with you, and that you have a copy of the prescriptions in case of problems during the trip. Also, inquire about the availability of LGBTQ+ health care in your chosen destination.
Establish a support network before traveling. Inform friends and family about your itinerary and share details such as where you are staying and emergency contact numbers. In this way, it will be possible to have someone to rely on in case of need.
Inquire about apps and online resources dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community. There are many apps and websites that can help you find welcoming and safe places, such as restaurants, bars, and housing. Using these resources can make it easier to locate places where you feel comfortable and welcome.
Consider attending events and activities specifically for the LGBTQ+ community. Many destinations offer festivals, prides, gatherings, and other events that can be a great opportunity to socialize with people from similar backgrounds and create new friendships.
In conclusion, traveling as a transgender or nonbinary person can present unique obstacles and challenges, but it also offers moments of joy and satisfaction.
Being an ally and supporting transgender and/or nonbinary tourists can help make the world a more welcoming and just place for all!
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Italian LGBTQ+ Travel & Lifestyle Portal
Quiiky Magazine is the premier Italian lifestyle and travel portal dedicated to LGBTQ+ travelers, featuring articles on Italian destinations, cuisines, wines, art, history and culture.