Transgender and Non Conforming Student Resources

Although national laws can reflect a cultural attitude towards transgender communities, it is significant that you surround yourself with people who will not interrogate you about your gender identity. Our office can help you understand the resources and groups available to you in your host country. While you shouldn’t let these obstacles stop you from traveling the world, you don’t have to compromise your dignity and security if you feel a certain program doesn’t have the resources for you to thrive as a transgender or gender non-conforming person.

Tips on Air Travel

Transequality.org offers tips for getting through TSA with resources like the “notification card,” which is a standardized card offered by TSA wherein one can discretely disclose a health or medically related circumstance to an agent as well as requesting assistance from a specialist during check in by calling the TSA hotline 72 hours before checking in.

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) reveals the specific obstacle that transgender people might face during air travel and how to get around them.

Calpernia Adam's blog provides further resources and advice for traveling transgender folks.

Passport

The Transgender Law Center and Transequality.org go over specific passport requirements for name change, gender marker change, two year passports and which forms to use.

The Department of State has information on two year passports. “If a physician certifies that your transition is in process, you are eligible for a limited validity two-year passport.  The signed original statement from the attending medical physician must be on office letterhead and include:

  • Physician’s full name
  • Medical license or certificate number
  • Issuing state or other jurisdiction of medical license/certificate

A limited passport book can be extended to the full ten-year validity book with no additional fee by submitting Form DS-5504 within two-years of the passport issue date.”

Trans* Travel Testimonial

“When in the airport, I cannot stress enough the importance of having the name on the airline ticket and the gender on the airline ticket reservation match the traveler's government photo ID (passport). Both domestically and in international travel, this is what's most likely to trip up a trans traveler.

Domestically, when my presentation didn't match my gender marker, I've had people stare at my ID for a long time or give me another pat-down because I didn't fit the scanner's "ideal" shape for a man or woman. I've never had trouble getting on the plane, but my ID always matched the ticket.”

Trans* travellers may request official name changes to their passports before departing their home country.   With the TSA, one may always request a pat-down instead of the scanner.  These pat-downs can be very invasive.  If a scanner detects binding garments, as with prosthetics, it will register as a foreign object on the screen and the agents will likely require further screening and questioning.  Wigs and hairpieces usually go through screeners without notice. “Travelers should never be required to lift, remove, or raise an article of clothing to reveal a prosthetic item and should not be asked to remove it. This applies to binding items, breast forms, and other prosthetics.” (transequality.org)  Giving a brief, sincere description of what the item is for is difficult, but will minimize additional screening.

Communicating w/ the TSA:

  • All travelers have the right to be treated with dignity, discretion and respect. If you encounter any issues, politely ask to speak to a supervisor immediately. Never raise your voice or threaten TSA staff.
  • You may request a private screening or to speak to a supervisor at any time during the security screening process. Screening can be conducted in a private screening area with a witness or companion of the traveler’s choosing.
  • Calmly state the problem and ask the TSA personnel to take the appropriate action. If TSA personnel are unaware of your rights, there are sometimes placards with general information, such as the right to refuse to enter a full-body scanner, in the screening area. You can politely refer TSA screeners to them.
  • We encourage you to assert your rights in a positive and respectful manner. At the same time, we strongly encourage you not to get in a confrontation with TSA personnel if at all possible. Threatening TSA agents or other passengers or acting aggressively can result in serious criminal charges. This does not mean that you cannot assert your rights, just that you should do so as calmly and positively as possible.
  • If you are required to undergo additional screening, or think you might be, one option for discreetly communicating with TSA personnel is to use a preprinted “Notification Card” to disclose a particular personal item, medical condition, or other information. A template for this card that TSA agents will immediately recognize is available here: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/notification-card.

The Federal Aviation Act has banned gender discrimination, including discrimination against trans* people.  Here are the TSA’s suggestions for trans* passengers:

            http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/transgender-travelers

And the TSA’s official civil rights for travellers:

            http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/civil-rights-travelers

Info for Trans* Folks in Airport Security:

http://transequality.org/know-your-rights/airport-security