Traveling when you’re queer can already come with some difficulties, but for gender-diverse travelers, the challenges can appear overwhelming. At Rainbow Getaways, we believe everyone should feel comfortable going on a dream vacation, which is an achievable reality!
For gender-diverse travelers looking to see the world but are worried about the risks, we put together a list of helpful tips to ensure your safety while you relax on vacation.
Are you a gender-diverse traveler planning a dream getaway but want to ensure you stay safe?
Keep reading for travel tips to help make your vacation easier as a gender-diverse traveler.
Most of the issues that gender-diverse travelers are concerned about happen at the airport—concerns about going through the TSA line and potentially dealing with pat downs or uncomfortable conversations. Even with the recent updates how what TSA agents are trained to look at, gender-diverse travelers are still likely to face a higher chance of secondary screening.
Springing for TSA Pre-check will help limit stress and make flying easier to avoid this ordeal. TSA Pre-Check not only allows you to leave your shoes on and not worry about unpacking your carry-on; the most significant benefit for a gender-diverse traveler is the use of a traditional metal detector. Using the metal detector removes the binary choice for Male or Female that the operator selects before you enter the body scanner.
Customs and Border Patrol have also started incorporating facial recognition tools, which makes the process easier and more accessible for gender-diverse travelers looking to go abroad.
Carry secondary ID
If you have an “X” marker on your ID, you should consider your destination and what airline you’re using because the marker isn’t recognized everywhere, particularly internationally. One suggestion is to bring a secondary ID with you for backup in case you need it.
If you’re in the transitioning process and unable to get updated legal documents in time, we recommend updating your passport with a current photo of you as well as receiving a note from your health provider. Some states also allow you to update your ID photo to match your current presentation.
Keep your medication in its original packaging
When traveling abroad with medication, it must be kept in its original packaging, and the name on the prescription must match the name on your ID. Carrying a note from your health provider describing why you are taking the medication is another helpful piece of information to have. Also, research your destination to ensure that it allows you to take that medication with you in the country.
Consider traveling with a friend
Unfortunately, solo travel for many LBGTQ+ people is considered to be high risk, and this is especially true for gender-diverse travelers. If you are an infrequent traveler, we suggest traveling with a group or at least one other person. You’ll have a witness who can advocate for you if you run into any problems with TSA, and you’re less likely to be approached if you’re surrounded by peers who can act as a buffer.
Use a travel agent
One of the benefits of booking your trip with an LGBTQ+ travel agency, like Rainbow Getaways, is that a queer travel advisor can help connect you with accommodations that are LGBTQ+ friendly and prioritize equity and diversity training for their staff. While googling LGBTQ+ accommodations is helpful, a travel agent has built connections with resorts and hotels with a history of treating their guests right.
Another benefit of booking travel with a travel advisor is having an advocate when things don’t go to plan. Because we have the connections, we can often get better results faster than if you were to approach a problem independently. We may not be with you physically, but we’re always just a short message away from being able to assist.
Don’t use outing cards
Although we’ve seen this tip before in articles, we recommend that you don’t bring cards with you to the airport that essentially “out” you. While the intention is to mitigate any issues, you’re drawing more attention to yourself.
Having to out yourself as a gender-diverse person isn’t something anyone should have to do just to have the same experience as everyone else. Instead, act as if you belong there, and very few people will give you a second look.
On the topic of outings, be mindful of what you pack in your carry-on. If you are selected for a secondary screening, having your essentials packed in one part of your suitcase can help expedite the screening. You also have the right to request the screening to be done in private with a 3rd party to witness, so you don’t need to be alone with the TSA agent.
Travel with a plan and an open mind
One of the best ways to help ease travel anxiety is by having a plan. If you go in with the expectation that TSA may stop you if you don’t do a pre-check, you can mentally prepare for the interaction and immediately process it. You can also plan to have a friend witness the interaction and ensure your rights aren’t being infringed.
How you carry yourself is another part to consider while traveling. Wearing clothes that blend in or present yourself with confidence and the belief that you should be there will not just help with your internal nerves, but it won’t register as nervous behavior to a TSA agent or a security officer. These individuals are trained to look for behavior, nervous behavior, or other things that stand out as not “normal.”
If you want more information about traveling as a gender-diverse traveler, schedule a consultant with Rainbow Getaways, and we’ll help you with everything you need to know.
Rainbow Getaways proudly help travelers of the LGBTQ community (and our allies) research, plan, and book incredible vacations where you feel confident and comfortable enjoying and exploring your destination. We plan each vacation to meet your specific needs, so you'll have an experience just as unique as you.