Air Travel Tips for Transgender Students Studying Abroad

You are here

At IES Abroad, we recognize that identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community while studying abroad can present unique challenges and opportunities in exploring a new culture. However, air travel as a transgender or non-binary student should not be one of those challenges. 

Here are 12 transgender travel tips that we hope will give you the advice you need to get through airports and on your way to study abroad.

  1. Make sure to check out the legislation in regarding transgender issues and the LGBTQ+ community in your study abroad location.
  2. When making an airline reservation, it is strongly encouraged that you use the same name, gender, and birth date that is on your passport. The gender marker on your boarding pass must match the passport (or government-issued ID) you show the TSA Travel Document Checker.
  3. If you have medical equipment or prostheses in your carry-on, these items should be allowed through the checkpoint after you complete the screening process.
  4. Make sure that medications are in their original packages and that they marked clearly as being prescribed to you. You should also have a note from your doctor explaining their necessity.
  5. If you have medications that don’t fit the standard carry-on rules, make sure you declare them at the security check in to avoid issues.
  6. You have the right to wear whatever you wish. However, please keep in mind that certain articles of clothing, shoes, binding materials, prostheses, or jewelry may require additional security screening.
  7. You can opt out of an AIT scan at any time, but you will then be required to undergo a thorough pat-down.
  8. If for any reason, you receive a pat-down, the pat-down must be performed by an officer of the same gender as the traveler. This is based on your gender presentation. For example, a transgender woman must be searched by female officers. The gender listed on your identification should not matter for pat-downs and you should not be subjected to personal questions about your gender. If you encounter an issue, ask to speak to a supervisor and clearly and calmly state how you should be treated.
  9. You may ask for a private screening at any time. You are allowed to have a witness of your choosing with you when you are being privately screened.
  10. You can also obtain and fill out a TSA notification card in order to communicate with the TSA officer discreetly.
  11. Call the TSA Cares helpline with questions before you arrive at the airport. They can be reached at 855.787.2227.
  12. Check out the following websites for more information:

For more information on transgender and LGBTQ+ advice, check out our LGBTQ+ & Ally Resources.


Kandice RoseKandice Rose, Diversity Relations Manager

As an alumna of our Dublin - Irish Studies Program (though her courses actually align with what is now our Writer’s Program), Kandice knows exactly how life-changing study abroad can be. In her free time, Kandice enjoys cooking, dancing, reading, and going on adventures that serve as inspiration for the short stories she writes.

Recent news & press

Feb 25 2:36pm

Top 10 Study Abroad Instagram Photos from January & February 2019

by IES Abroad

Are you ready to fall head over heels for study abroad?

Read more
Feb 22 3:48pm

61 IES Abroad Students Received Gilman Scholarship in 2018-19

by IES Abroad

We are proud to congratulate 61 IES Abroad students who have received the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for the 2018-19 Academic Year.

Read more
Feb 20 11:12am

Reinventing Yourself Through Fashion While Studying Abroad

by IES Abroad

Studying abroad provides a great opportunity to reinvent yourself. Our Ambassadors tell us how they explored their senses of fashion while abroad.

Read more
Feb 20 10:03am

Five Years After Study Abroad: IES Abroad Alum Mallory Rotondo, Speech-Language Pathologist

by IES Abroad

After studying abroad in Christchurch, New Zealand, Mallory Rotondo (IES Abroad Christchurch, Spring 2014 | Purdue University) went on to become an early intervention speech-language pathologist. Read on to hear how this IES Abroad Scholarship recipient’s study abroad experience gave her the skills necessary to be a more understanding clinician.

Read more
Feb 20 9:36am
Madrid

You Can Go Home Again - Alum Reunites with Host Mom Decades After Study Abroad

by IES Abroad

Jeff Rosenthal (IES Abroad Madrid, Spring 1982), had an unforgettable experience studying abroad in Madrid, thanks in part to his warmhearted homestay mom, Señora Carmen. Jeff shares, in his own words, how he returned to Madrid to find his homestay residence was still the home he cherished and remembered.

Read more
Feb 19 2:12pm

Our Colleagues, Students, and Alumni Make Black History Abroad

by IES Abroad

At IES Abroad, we believe that every black student going abroad, past or present, is making black history abroad.

Read more