Considerations for LGBTQA travelers
Even in the context of your native culture, identity, gender, sexual expression, and health are complex issues that are connected with gender roles and identity, intimacy and relationships, sexual orientation and behaviors, and much more. Since perspectives regarding these terms and identities are often culturally influenced, your personal identity and sexual health become even more complex in the context of traveling internationally.
Gender Roles and Identity
Gender roles and identity are socially constructed terms that are unique to each country and/or culture, and even within a single country or culture, the perspectives will vary. The differences in gender roles and identities between cultures span a range from minor and unnoticeable to major and life-altering. It is important to reflect on your native culture's views on the subject to get a sense of where your own thoughts on the subject may be originating. It is equally important to research - before you go - perspectives and ideas in your destination country so that you will have an idea of what to expect.
Important Legal and Health Issues
Some travelers have reported difficulties entering a country on a passport bearing a name and photo that no longer corresponds to their gender presentation.
- If you need to change the name on your passport, see the U.S. State Department's Change or Correct a Passport page
- If you need to update the gender designation on your passport, see the U.S. State Department's Gender Designation Change page
- If you were born abroad, follow the U.S. State Department's instructions on how to Replace or Amend a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) to update your gender marker
In addition, there are special medical considerations that you may want to take if you are considering, are in the process of transitioning, or have transitioned your gender identity. Hormone therapy drugs may not be available or legal in the country in which you wish to travel.
LGBTQA travelers should take copies of important documents, especially when traveling in countries where legal rights differ from those in the United States:
- Legal and health documents (such as a living will or health care directive)
- Parentage and/or custody documents for accompanying minor children (especially if your children do not share your last name).
- Contact information for your family and/or lawyer in the United States, including someone who has a copy of your itinerary.
- Address and phone number of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, in English and the local language.
Students, faculty, and staff of any sexual orientation should do research on their destination before leaving the U.S. Be aware of the legal restrictions regarding same-sex relationships in other countries, as well as the general attitudes of the population in the country where you plan to travel. Other countries may be more, or less, tolerant than the United States. For more information please review the following resources:
- The Penn State LGBTQA Student Resource Center is available to all Penn State students
- National Center for Transgender Equality travel page
- The NAFSA Rainbow SIG for LGBTQ students abroad is an international interest group that explores issues related to LGBT individuals in various cultures and countries
- The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association is a very useful resource for information and support
- U.S. State Department LGBTI Travel Information
- TSA Transgender Passenger information
- The Global Database on HIV-related travel and residence restrictions
- International Traveler’s Checklist
- IGLTA, the International Gay/Lesbian Travel Association
- Equaldex collaborative LGBT knowledge base
- The Trevor Project is a private organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTI young people ages 13-24