Nonbinary Travelers: Our Lens on the World

Travel makes our nonbinary selves more visible and makes people of all kinds more visible to us. Travel doesn’t have to involve going far. You can meet and get to know people from other places online. You can walk around your own town as nonbinary travelers and observe from a visitor’s perspective.

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Nonbinary Travelers

As a nonbinary traveler, I notice when a local community enforces (or subverts) the gender binary. We see the current state of people’s prejudice or acceptance. Knowing the history of a region can be illuminating. You can check to learn what Indigenous nations are on the land. For the US, you can check out the Sundown Towns Map to learn if Black people are/were forced out of town by white people with the support of law enforcement after nightfall. Also, for the US, you can check the map of nondiscrimination ordinances for LGBTQ people by state.

If you’re traveling to a trans-friendly location, you can look up meetups and events online if you’re interested in meeting the local community. Or, you can bask in seeing visible trans people walking down the street, in coffee shops, living our day-to-day lives. It’s so good to see trans people enjoying a morning walk or a hot beverage with friends, partners, or family.

White walls surrounding a courtyard with doors and porches in bright yellow, pink, blue, and aqua
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom

If you’re traveling to a place that’s not accepting of trans people, it may be safer to lean into people assuming you’re cisgender. That’s not a denial of your identity if it’s what’s best for you at the time. However, you may not have the privilege of being able to choose how people see you or how much of your transgender identity you wish to share. Traveling with friends or having trusted contacts in the place you are visiting may help.

Walking through the world is (unfortunately) often a gendered experience. Women’s travel is a whole genre. Travel content (or, why don’t we call it “white men’s travel content”) tends to ignore that different people will have very different experiences in the same place. Every nonbinary person will have a different lens on the world, which may or may not involve noticing gendered culture. Nonbinary travelers want to enjoy and learn about the world like any other tourist but may inherently experience a culture in a different way than someone who is cisgender.

Pastel colored historical buildings surrounding a canal at sunset
Photo by Pierre Blaché

Travel can be challenging, frustrating, and expensive, but it can also be illuminating, joyful, and centering. Experiencing other parts of the world or even just a new piece of your hometown can give you a new perspective on life. I hope you get the chance to travel if it is your dream.

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