LGBTQ+ Students Abroad
LGBTQ+ Student Page
To provide support and ensure that all students have a safe Study Abroad experience, this page contains resources and advice about issues that pertain to members of the LGBTQ+ community who wish to pursue an international education. It is highly recommended you do additional research that is specific to your country. Things to look out for include laws pertaining to sexuality and gender identity/expression. Additionally, look for restrictions on freedom of expression and cultural climate, as these will inform and be informed by perspectives on gender and sexuality.
Diversity information by country is available on the IES Abroad Diversity Resources page.
Discrimination and LGBTQ+ Identity Abroad
Students identifying as LGBTQ+ should be prepared to encounter new and different attitudes concerning sexual orientations and identities. The atmosphere surrounding gender and sexuality in each country or region is determined by numerous cultural, religious and political factors. The best way to avoid problems that cause discomfort or danger is to become familiar with the prevailing attitudes before departing for study abroad.
Traveling as a queer student may pose some challenges. In order to make your journey as safe and enjoyable as possible, it is important to be cautious in some parts of the world. Such areas include Poland, Mauritius, the Middle East (excepting Turkey), Trinidad, Jamaica, Indonesia, Malaysia and Chechnya, as well as some African countries. These countries have anti-homosexuality laws that reflect cultural attitudes which may pose a threat to your safety while traveling through or visiting.
Transgender students traveling abroad will have to make special considerations concerning travel documents and airport security. Although it is unfortunate that you are singled out due to your identity, preparing with the TSA's guidelines in mind will help you to save time and avoid harassment.
Blogs & Articles
- Neal McKinney, the Assistant Director of Off-Campus Study at DePauw University, studied abroad in Barcelona. In his blog post he shares not only about his experience but advice to students studying abroad.
- While same-sex relationships are illegal in Morocco, a student who self-identifies as an Asian queer man, shares his experiences in his blog. He talks about the languages he learned, his life with a host family, the friends he made, and even about his dating life.
- Finding friendly medical care away from home can be challenging. However, being provided medical attention should not be avoided if needed. Writer, Jess McHugh, shares some ways you can consider finding medical attention that is safe and comfortable to you.
- Jim, Lisa, Patrick, and Manuel all identify themselves within the LGBQ+ community and have sat down to talk about how they chose where to go abroad and then the experiences they had in that country.
Some Tips for Getting Through Security:
- Update your passport and other forms of identification to reflect your expressed identity and current legal name if possible. All of your documents should match the name used to make the flight reservations in order to streamline the security process.
- Refrain from wearing prosthetics or binding materials with metal components when possible in order to avoid extra searches.
- Medication in your carry on, including syringes and injectable hormones, should be stored in a small bag or pouch along with your prescriptions. This pouch should be given to TSA agents for inspection during security check-in.
- Become familiar with TSAs policies and considerations concerning Transgender travellers.
- While you are abroad, it is likely that you will encounter a wide range of opinions and reactions, just like you would at home. Diversity Abroad's website provides resources to help ease the transition into an unfamiliar place.
- You can also visit the Department of State's LGBT Travel Information page, which addresses some common concerns about preparing to go abroad.
Students of all backgrounds and ethnicities cite money as an impediment to studying abroad. Geneseo works to help make traveling abroad an affordable and accessible opportunity for all students through numerous scholarships as well as financial advisement. You can check out our extensive list of scholarships on our Scholarship Page.
Questions LGBTQ+ Student May Want to Ask Themselves
- Transgender and/or nonbinary students might face challenges if officials perceive differences between your gender presentation and how your name or gender if recorded on your legal documents or plane ticket. How might you navigate such challenges? Do you need to update your documents?
- If you use pronouns such as they/them, xe/xem, or other neutral or neopronouns, how might you share those with others in your host country? Are there gender neutral or neopronouns in your host country's language?
- Health & Safety
- Will you have reliable access to any necessary medical devices, supplies, therapy, and/or documentation?
- If you take hormones, will you have access to them in your host country? If yes, will you be able to take them in the way you are accustomed to (e.g. gel, injections, pill, etc.)?
- Are you aware of how you have to pack your medical supplies and get them through airport security?
- Can you bring any of your necessary medical supplies with you on the plane in case your luggage gets delayed or lost?
- PrEPMAP (Asia/Pacific only)
- The LGBTA Guide to Travel Safety (Man About World)
- Community & Support
- What is the history of LGBTQ+ people within your host country?
- What apps or social media platforms are available or popular in your host country? Are there any specifically for LGBTQ individuals?
- What are your expectations about seeking and finding community?
- How important is it to you to find other LGBTQ+ students and friends while abroad? How will you go about making these connections?
- Cultural Norms & Beliefs
- How are trans and/or nonbinary people perceived in the host culture? Are there differences in traditional/modern or rural/urban settings? Is socio-economic status a factor?
- What are the gendered expectations for dress and/or behavior in your host country? How might you navigate those expectations in a way that promotes your safety and respect for your host culture while also allowing you to express yourself authentically and affirmingly?
- Laws & Rights
- Is there a documented pattern of violence against trans and/or nonbinary people?
- Does the law require having proper documentation" at all times?
- What is the general police/law enforcement's attitude toward the local LGBTQ+ community? Toward LGBTQ+ visitors or tourists?
- Are the "public indecency/decency" laws? Or any that criminalize the ways that people of the same or different genders interact?
- What is the age of consent and does it differ by gender?
- Is the law applied the same in rural areas as in urban areas?
- LGBTQIA+ Laws and Resource Interactive Map (UC Davis)
- US Department of State Resources for LGBTQI+ Travelers
- International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (OutRight International)
- Council of Europe Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Unit
- List of LGBT Rights by country or territory
- National Center for Transgender Equality