Whether we think about it or not, gender and gender identity are important for studying abroad. It is vital that students who intend to study abroad to research and find answers to cultural attitudes towards gender identity in your host country. Most countries will have different cultural attitudes about gender roles and other gender-related norms. Examples could be that there are some countries that emphasize traditional gender roles and do not accept other gender identities. There is a chance that students may feel like they are being treated in a different way when they go abroad and these students will need to be prepared for this. Transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, and cis-women students, in particular, may face certain challenges or issues related their gender while abroad. Some countries may conform to very traditional gender norms, while others may be more accepting of gender differences. It is important to research the country that you want to go to in order to prepare for cultural differences and to ensure a safe study abroad experience. Some important things to learn about include dating norms, gender discrimination and women’s safety.
As you start to plan your study abroad journey, it is important to consider some questions about your host culture of interest. These may influence where you choose to study abroad or how you prepare for the experience. Some of these questions might include:
- Will others in my host country accept my identity?
- Will I feel safe enough to talk about my gender identity?
- How will others react to me telling them my preferred pronouns? How will I correct them if they misgender me?
- Is the campus an inclusive environment? Are there student groups that support and create communities for trans/non-binary/genderqueer students?
- Are there different housing opportunities available to ensure that I have a safe space?
- Am I in the process of transitioning with the aid of hormones? Will I be able to bring the medical equipment with me that I need?
- What should I do if the gender on my passport does not match my true gender?
- Do I have a friend who is also considering studying abroad? Could we plan together to increase our safety while abroad?
For trans, non-binary, and genderqueer students
Trans Respect vs. Transphobia Worldwide
This tool reports on countries around the world and includes research on gender recognition, state-sponsored discrimination, and more.
IES Abroad - Being Non-Binary in Spain
Read on a student's experience on being non-binary in Spain
University Studies Abroad Consortium - Trans and Studying Abroad
This trans student talks about their experience abroad and offers advice to LGBTQIA+ students thinking about studying abroad.
Matador Network - Trans Safe Travel Guide
A travel guide for transgender people.
National Center for Transgender Equality
Has information on things like airport security and your rights as a transgender person.
Government of Canada - Safe Travel Guide for Women
A safe travel guide for women.
U.S. Department of State - Traveling as a Woman
The US Department of State addresses issues that women may face while abroad.