The sun is out, the leaves are changing and I can finally get rid of my winter coat which means summer is just around the corner. For most of us that means taking some well deserved time off and heading for vacation. As a transgender person that is sometimes easier said than done. With the stress of HRT, new people, and strict airport security procedures, travel can feel overwhelming.
I’ve spent the past two and a half years traveling throughout Australia, Europe, Asia and some short road trips here in the states so I have picked up a few pointers along the way.
First off, if you plan to carry your hormones plan to bring a letter explaining your circumstances from your doctor.
This does not need to be complicated. Just a short paragraph outlining who you are and why you are carrying these hormones with you. I had my letter with me while I traveled in Europe, but I never actually had to use it. I think it’s a good back up in case you do ever get stopped by someone in airport security.
On the topic of carrying hormones, always bring them in a clear, organized, and climate controlled case.
Did you know that your testosterone needs to remain at 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit to remain effective? Short time periods exposed to harsh temperatures may be fine, but if you are about to pitch a tent for the weekend or hop on a 12 hour plane ride I would recommend getting something that is temperature controlled. I use a Frio Wallet, which was originally created for insulin but it works just the same.
Be prepared to take out your testosterone if needed while going through security. You can choose to pack it in a checked bag, but you run the risk of the airlines losing your bag. I always pack mine in a carry on and put my needles in a checked bag.
Be aware of body scanners and pat downs. Update your name/gender records.
A lot of us may be binding or packing when boarding a plane, so be aware that while these things are allowed they may cause confusion for airport security personnel. When you walk into a body scanner an officer pushes a button to signify whether you are “male” or “female”. You are entitled to skip the body scanner, but you will be asked to be given a pat down. This can take place behind closed doors if you request it. TSA trains their staff on trans issues (at least that’s what they say), but your best bet is to act confident in whatever you’re doing. If you look scared and hesitant people normally find you suspicious.
I’ve traveled quite extensively with “female” still written in my passport. It hasn’t been an issue, but I also didn’t sprout a beard very quickly once I started t. I would suggest if you can, to update your travel documents as soon as possible, but it’s a long process so you don’t want to get stuck in a situation where different documents say different things. Use your best judgement when booking airline tickets on what your name and pronouns will be at the time of travel. You can carry your change of name court documents with you as well. Know your rights.
Think twice about where you go and how you act when in public.
I’m the type of person that does not like to keep myself hidden when in public, but sometimes you need to be aware of the situation you are in. For example, while I was in Poland I chose to not hold my girlfriend’s hand in public or do anything that would make me stand out. Some people suggest to not visit places where LGBT people are not welcomed, but that of course is up to you.
Enjoy your time!
The whole point of heading on vacation is to relax and have a good time, right? If you’re feeling stressed the entire time maybe it’s a good idea to consider going somewhere else or making more preparations before you go. I hope wherever you head this summer you can feel comfortable in your skin and enjoy it with supportive, loving people.
Take care y’all and let’s go on an adventure.