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LGBTQIA+ Abroad

Rainbow over Ghent

Every student, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation should consider participating in  an Education Abroad program. It is important to note that in many of the countries where students study, issues related to sexual orientation and gender may be different from those in the United States. While many countries are very accepting of LGBTQIA+ people, others are less tolerant.

Tips For Preparing For an Education Abroad Program

  • Student must prepare themselves with the necessary  information by visiting the appropriate offices/ websites such as:
  • Learn about the outlook and policies on LGBTQIA+  in the country you are planning to visit.
  • LGBTQIA+ students are encouraged to learn the colloquialism terms relevant to the language from the country they are traveling to in order to be aware of their surroundings and be able to recognize potentially dangerous situations.
  • Being knowledgeable about these recommendations and understanding how they will impact your interactions in the host country will help you have a rewarding and safe international experience.
  • For country-specific information, you can view the US State Department's Country Factsheet were you can review specific laws pertaining to LGBTQIA+  abroad.
  • Additionally, you may view the Education Abroad's Country Guide, which provides information on safety, risks, laws, and attitudes towards  LGBTQIA+ communities in popular Education Abroad destinations.

Transgender Students Abroad

While transgender students may face unique challenges and uncertainties when deciding to participate in an Education Abroad program,  there are also many benefits and opportunities they may enjoy. Participating in an Education Abroad program can be a great time to learn about gender identity across the world and forge connections and alliances across cultural barriers.

 Education Abroad  can help to answer your questions and begin your Education Abroad support system. As a transgender student participating in an Education Abroad program,  you want to keep in mind the following items:

  • Researching your destination: A good first step to help you decide on your program is to inform yourself about the laws, attitudes, and culture surrounding gender in your desired destinations. It is important to remember that not all countries accept or lawfully allow citizens to change their gender identity. The resources on this page can help you to identify countries that may be more accepting or open-minded to transgender students.
  • Your travel documents: airline reservations require your full name, date of birth, and gender to match the information on your passport. Make sure your identity documents are consistent.
  • Traveling with medication: If you are traveling with any type of medication, you will need to carry them in their original packaging and bring proof of your prescription. Please visit www.tsa.gov for more information. 
  • Airport security in the U.S.: In airports throughout the United States, you have the right to waive the Advanced Imaging security screen, and can opt for a pat-down by an officer of your own gender identity. If you experience harassment or inappropriate behavior, you may file a complaint through the Office of Civil Liberties.
  • Prosthetics: As per TSA guidelines, "If a traveler has any medical equipment or prostheses in a carry-on bag, the items will be allowed through the checkpoint after the traveler completes the screening process. If a bag must be opened by an officer to resolve an alarm, the traveler may ask that bags be screened in private." For more information please, visit TSA Transgender Passengers website. 
  • Your Program: What are the available housing options? Does your host institution or university have gender-neutral restrooms? What are the available support structures for students? How will your program assist your connection to other students on the program? It is strongly recommended to contact your Education Abroad Program Leader and discuss any questions or concerns as soon as you start planning for your study abroad program.
  • Being out abroad: One question to consider is how and when you will feel comfortable being “out” while abroad. Keep in mind that people of different cultures may not understand language used in the United States, and for some, how you identify may be an entirely new concept. It may get tiring, but patience and understanding is key to communicating across cultures and building safe spaces.

Resources for LGBTQIA+ Travel

Colleges of the Fenway LGBTQ Travel Guide

NAFSA Rainbow Sig

Outright Action International

The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association

TSA Transgender Passenger Information

Know your rights & airport security for transgendered people