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Thursday, 30 June 2011 03:38

Exploring Gender: Traveling and Security

Written by  Cael



I recently returned from a trip to Europe, a graduation present from my family. Prior to the trip I was a bit wary as to how I would be received by transportation security because I could not change my legal name on my passport in the time between graduation and leaving for Europe, which was only a couple of weeks. I thought it would be difficult to get through airport security presenting as I do with the name Mary Catherine. There is no room for gender ambiguity in that name.

I know that security in airports has increased tenfold since I was ten and flying to Disney World, so I was sure I would have trouble getting through TSA security. I had no trouble whatsoever, though. The only time I was stopped by an agent at all was on the way back when she wanted to know what the tattoo on my arm said and to compliment me on it.

Knowing the lengths to which security can sometimes go to ensure the safety of airline passengers, I took a few steps which I thought would ensure an easy walkthrough of security and comfortable travel: 1. I wore a binder, but not a terribly restricting one, 2. Baggy clothes for comfort and to appear slightly more androgynous, and 3. No packer because getting pulled aside for a search would cause questions.

I realize that some of these suggestions are not necessarily ones which make us feel more comfortable with ourselves, but they do ensure passing painlessly through security. Any question of identity, or what that might be in your pants, could delay your travel plans significantly. Sometimes it is hard to know what to sacrifice for the sake of moving through society at certain points. In this case, I wanted to be able to get to where I was going, and I could be myself once I got there.

The only problem I had was on the cruise ship. Mainly because I look so young, so everyone needed to see my ID to get into the dance club or to buy a drink or to verify my name on my ship’s pass card. In this case, I passed so well as a man that they did not want to believe my identity. I only managed to forget my ID once, though, so it wasn’t too big of a problem. Mainly, it just reinforced the fact that the sooner I can change my name, the easier it will be for me to pass within society.

I had a mostly positive experience traveling. I know some people do not. Do any of you have any stories to tell from a different perspective?


Lezbelib is the online magazine that helps LGBTQ+ women to stay updated with entertaining blogs and breaking news about LGBT rights.