Reflecting on Your Identities
Expressing your LGBTQ+ identity can be a significant source of growth, challenge, and reflection in a new and unfamiliar environment. You may already be familiar with navigating challenges associated with being LGBTQ+ on campus, but there will likely be a different context to navigate in your host culture. When preparing for an experience abroad, it is important to consider how your LGTBQ+ identity will be perceived within the context of your host country.
Owning and navigating your identities abroad can be an important aspect of your overseas journey. LGBTQ+ communities exist throughout the world and going abroad, while challenging, may also provide an opportunity for positive connection and growth.
Talking with other LGBTQ+ students who have traveled overseas can be a great resource to help you become more aware of these new dynamics, and give you some ideas about how to navigate your specific identities in a new culture. Remember that opportunities to go abroad are available to students of all identities and you are encouraged to engage in an enriching international experience.
Set yourself up for success overseas by taking ownership of your experience and planning as much as you can before you depart. Research your host country an connect with on-campus resources prior to departure.
Every culture has its own set of norms, laws, and attitudes about LGBTQ+ individuals. Many countries are very accepting of LGBTQ+ persons, while others are less tolerant. These varying attitudes make it essential to consider how identifying as LGBTQ+ can impact your experience abroad, including how it could positively or negatively affect your health, safety, and well-being as you travel. Before choosing an overseas destination consider the local context and how you will manage your LGBTQ+ identity in that setting.
Choosing a Program
As you consider and prepare for an international experience, use the following questions to guide you. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and you may relate to multiple identities. You are encouraged to discuss these topics in-person with a study abroad advisor.
- How might my identity influence where I choose to travel?
- How does my preferred host country view LGBTQ+ individuals?
- Is it safe for me to be openly “out” or expressive of my identity in my preferred host country? How might being "out" affect the relationships I form in my host country?
- What cultural attitudes, laws, or context exist towards sexual orientation in the host country?
- What is my host culture’s perspective on gender identity (binary, non-binary, etc.) and gender roles? What is considered typical male and female social behavior, including gender roles and gender relations, in the host country?
- Can the program accommodate special housing requests such as single rooms, private baths, or certain roommates?
- If you are using gender transition hormones or other prescription medications, are those legal/available in your host country? UNT's or your affiliate provider's health insurance provider can provide information on these topics as you research possible destinations.
- Does the program have any other resources available for LGBTQ+ students?
Preparing to Go Abroad
Before you go abroad, take special care to familiarize yourself with your host country’s laws pertaining to LGBTQ+ persons. ILGA publishes an interactive map showing country-specific information about sexual orientation laws worldwide. You may also consider purchasing the most current edition of one of the various gay and lesbian international reference guides before departing from the United States. Consider the following to help ease the transition into the culture of your destination:
- How open will I be about my sexual orientation and gender identity with people in my host country? How might this impact my experience abroad?
- How important is it for me to find other LGBTQ+ students and friends while I am abroad? How will I connect with them?
- What kinds of LGBTQ+-friendly establishments, organizations, or resources are available in my host country? How will I access them?
- If English is not the first language in my host country, how will I communicate information about my LGBTQ+ identity?
- In addition to being LGBTQ+, what other social identities do I hold? How will these identities affect my experience abroad?
- How will I incorporate my experiences abroad back into my life at UNT upon my return?
Speak with an Advisor
- What opportunities and challenges have other LGBTQ+ students faced as they prepare to travel abroad?
- How can I be connected with students and alumni with similar identities who have been abroad?
- How will study abroad help me reach my academic and professional goals?
- What UNT campus support and resources will I continue to have access to while overseas?
- How might laws and cultural norms in my host country affect my ability to express my identity?
- Will I have the same access to medications as I do in the United States?
- Will my financial aid or other UNT funding sources transfer over to my study abroad experience? What sources of funding are available for education abroad opportunities?
Schedule an appointment with a study abroad advisor.
- U.S. Department of State LGTBI Travelers
- CIEE Knowledge Series on Identity
- IES LGTBQ+ and Ally Resources
- NAFSA Rainbow SIG
- NPR Know an LGTBQ Student Itching to Study Abroad?
- The International Lesbian and Gay Association
- U.S. Department of State Change of Sex Marker
- Transequality.org Know Your Rights | Passports
- National Center for Transgender Equality Airport Security
- UNT Pride Alliance Study Abroad Info