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Identities Abroad

Student Experiences Abroad: LGBTQIA+

Expressing your LGBTQ+ identities 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.

"Studying abroad, I never felt discriminated or alienated because of my LGBTQ identity. I studied in a very socially liberal country and had a great time - studying abroad is something I would recommend to anyone, and one's gender or sexual orientation should not stop them from taking advantage of the amazing study abroad programs offered to us."

"Surprisingly, I felt more welcome in the country I studied abroad in than I could have ever imagined. Pride flags were posted in business windows and were flown above all the public transportation. Having an LGBTQ identity abroad provided me with unique perspectives on the topics we learned about and I would absolutely recommend studying abroad to anyone I know. "

"The Paris that I had dreamt of for so long now holds a firm and unbreakable grasp on my memory. Though I may physically be back in the States, regardless of audience or geographic location, I’ve learned that no one can take my identity away from me. At long last, I feel both confident on the inside and out; I’m proud of where I’m from and the person I’m growing to be."

“The Ross China trip taught me a lot about valuing the identities and backgrounds of others, especially those in my community - the LGBTQ+ community - because there’s so much diversity out there. I also began learning about how different cultures view our community and the conversations that have yet to be had abroad. I’m encouraged, though, by the progress being made on a global scale and cannot wait until my next journey abroad as a member of the community.”

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Planning your Experience Abroad

Use the informations on this page to explore considerations, opportunities, and challenges related to traveling abroad as an LGBTQ+ individual.

As you consider and prepare for an international experience, use the following questions as a guide. 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 an education abroad advisor in your school or college. The Spectrum Center can also provide guidance and resources as you prepare for your experience.

Examine the attitudes and laws of your host country

  • How does my preferred host country view LGBTQ+ individuals?
  • How will being “out” affect my legal rights?
  • How might laws and cultural norms in my host country affect my ability to express my identity?

Consider the cultural attitudes of your host country

  • What is my host culture’s perspective on gender identity (binary, non-binary, etc.) and gender roles?
  • How might being “out” affect the relationships I form in my host country?

Research health and safety considerations

  • Is it safe for me to be openly “out” or expressive of my identity in my preferred host country?
  • Will I have the same access to medications as I do in the United States?

Seek out your community

  • Is there a local LGBTQ+ community I can connect with abroad?

Available Resources

Researching the climate for LGBTQ+ individuals around the world is an important part of deciding where you will travel. Attitudes around sexual orientation and gender identity are constantly shifting on the global stage and it’s essential that you have an understanding of LGBTQ+ rights in your host country.

Support Abroad

Many of the resources available to you on campus are also available during your time abroad. These include but are not limited to, the following: Your education abroad advisor and academic advisor, U-M Counseling and Psychological Services (, as well as resources offered by your international host institution and your health care provider.

In addition, we also encourage you to find an LGBTQ+ community in your host country. Getting involved in local LGBTQ+ communities is a way to feel a sense of belonging and support, as well as a great way to meet locals, learn more about your host culture, and immerse yourself fully into your host country. In most international cities and universities, you can find resources, meeting places, and social groups for LGBTQ+ students. We encourage you to do research prior to departing and speak to your education abroad advisor to find resources in your host community.

Traveling as a Transgender Student

According to the U.S. Government, “some transgender travelers have reported difficulties entering a country on a passport bearing a name and photo that no longer correspond to their gender identity.” To avoid this, several offices on campus offer guidance and financial assistance in updating your name and/or gender marker on your passport. If you would like to update your gender marker, please reach out to the Spectrum Center ( for guidance.

If you take medication, keep in mind that there are various prescriptions as well as over-the-counter drugs that, although legal in the United States, are prohibited in other countries. Check the legality of your medication with the embassy of the specific country you are traveling to. Even if your medications are legal, for safety reasons, it is recommended to have documentation on the type of drug you are bringing, including your doctor’s prescription, if applicable. Keep in mind that your medication may not be available in your host country. You are highly encouraged to work with your doctor and insurance to secure medication for the entire duration of your international experience. If you cannot do so, speak to your doctor for best steps.

What Else To Be Aware of When Traveling Abroad as Member of the LGBTQ+ Community

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.

Several U-M students who traveled abroad have found it helpful to disclose their identity to their education abroad advisor and/or the host school. This will assist in finding a roommate that can act as an ally to LGBTQ+ identities. Know that it is ultimately your choice whether or not you disclose your identity to the host school.