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Student Resource Guide - Gender

Gender GO Program Resources Page for Students
Gender can refer to more than just a male/female dichotomy. One’s gender identity can be different from their biological sex at birth, and is based on an individual choice. Further, individuals who decide to avoid using gendered terms at all are referred to gender non-binary. This resource guide is intended to help support students who affiliate with any, all, or none of the gender categories; it is geared toward a student used to a typical American cultural perspective on gender going to a location that may have its own constructions of gender. 

It is common for students to have worries and concerns about social acceptance and available support networks while on a GO program, immersed in another culture – especially students whose gender does not match what others would perceive them as, or if they do not conform into the gender binary. Even students who do align themselves with a traditional male/female gender may wonder about how gender stereotypes will affect them during a GO program. You may be starting to think about how the culture of the location you will be traveling to will differ from your own in terms of norms and attitudes regarding gender. While it is impossible to know how each person will react to you, it is smart to start thinking about how people of your gender affiliation are generally received and treated in the location you will be for your GO program.

In addition to researching these considerations before you GO, also keep in mind that building and maintaining strong relationships with others while abroad, and maintaining in good contact with family and friends back home, can provide you with immense support during your GO program. While abroad, we advise you have an open line of communication with your program director or program provider if there are any gender-related issues you are confronting.
Questions to consider:
  • What are the laws, attitudes and culture regarding gender (trans, female, and male, non-conforming) in the location you plan to GO to?
  • What can you do to prioritize your safety around gender-related issues abroad?
  • What behaviors are considered acceptable, or expected, from people of each gender? Might those offend you? If so, how do you plan to deal with any encounters you may have?
  • Are gender-neutral restrooms available in the housing or university buildings where you will be traveling or studying?
  • What housing options are available? 
Additional Research and Tips: 
  • Research appropriate clothing options for your destination: norms vary according to each country’s laws and customs, and not following them could put your safety at risk
  • Try to have at least one hand free at all times. The ideal handbag or day pack is easy to carry and has zippered inner compartments for added security,  and a sturdy cross-body strap. The best way to carry your bag is in front of you, close to your body. Carry only items that are lightweight and that you can afford to lose. It may help to wear cargo pants or a vest with multiple pockets to store travel documents and gear. Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for bag-snatchers and pickpockets.
  • Take your cues from locals - if you are a woman traveler, pay attention to how local women act, what they wear, etc.
Helpful webpages:
  • OutRight Action International: Informative & for your information - not directly related to a study abroad experience. Fights for human rights for LGBTIQ people everywhere, they are registered as a 501c3 non-profit in the US and have staff in six countries and work alongside LGBTIQ individuals across four continents in the Global South toward lasting change
  • IES: Provides Air Travel Tips for Transgender Students Studying Abroad 
  • Transportation Security Administration: A short guide from TSA regarding how to remedy some of the gender-related concerns you might have while traveling.
  • Diversity Abroad - Women Abroad: Explains how important it is prior to and during your trip to find out about your host country’s cultural values and behaviors regarding women.
  • The Department of State - LGBTI Travelers: Provides information and tips for about pre-departure, while you are abroad, and other helpful information
  • The Department of State - Women Travelers: A short guide from the Department of State regarding women travelers. Includes some useful tips, and information about violence against women.
  • Canada's Advice for Women Travelers. Advice webpage and links with useful advice on legal, cultural, security, health and social considerations to women travelers from the Canadian Department of State. 
  • Wanderful: A community of women worldwide focused on sharing stories and tips. Empowering women to explore and be adventurous.
Resources from other universities: