Being LGBTQ* can be challenging in the U.S., but it can sometimes come with its own set of challenges abroad. It’s important to think about your personal identity and expression before going abroad. It shouldn’t hold you back from taking advantage of an education abroad opportunity, so use this guide as a base on what to think about when starting your journey.
Location, Location, Location
While we recommend that you choose a program based on your personal, academic and professional goals instead of simply picking a location, we know that LGBTQ* students may need to give extra consideration to where they’ll go.
Some questions to keep in mind when researching your host country:
- Are there anti-LGBTQ* laws in place? What do LGBTQ* rights in this country look like?
- Is it taboo to talk about sexuality and gender?
- Would it be safe for me to come out?
- Would appropriate and safe medical care be available, if needed?
By no means are these the only questions you should research about your host country, but this is a good place to start. There are many online guides that are specifically for LGBTQ* students researching their country, like GoAbroad’s LGBT Student Guide to Studying Abroad. Start researching early and get to know the place you’ll be living!
Every study abroad student needs a passport, but LGBTQ* students, especially transgender students, might need to put extra thought into documentation to bring and keep with you.
Does your passport reflect your name and gender? If you need to change the gender reflected on your passport, the Department of State has helpful links on how to change your name or update your gender designation on your passport, though this should be done plenty of time in advance before you leave on your program.
It may also be important for LGBTQ* students to bring appropriate medical documents detailing any treatment such as hormone dosages that you were receiving in the United States and anything you are bringing with you abroad. Keep in mind that LGBTQ*-specific medical care may not always be available abroad, so research before going abroad and make sure any medications you bring are legal in your host country.
Keeping documentation with you can be important as early as leaving on your first flight. Transgender students may want to check out this blog with helpful information on being trans and going through TSA to prepare for travel.
Talk to Your Resources at the University of Kentucky
If you are comfortable disclosing your identity to your Education Abroad advisor, they may be able to help you plan for your time abroad. Our UK Education Abroad team has been through Safe Zone training at UK, so we are able and willing to help.
Don’t forget that there is also an office here on campus specifically for LGBTQ* students. The Office of LGBTQ* Resources is there to help, and you can contact them with any questions and concerns. Our office has a good relationship with The Office of LGBTQ* Resources and works with them on anything we might not know on our own.
The Bottom Line
As an LGBTQ* student, research early, plan your travels, and don't hesitate to reach out to resources on campus!