In July I set-off for a 9.5 week trip to England, Morocco, Italy, Ireland and Russia with my Australian passport that has my sex listed as ‘Female’. I did think about altering passport/s to an ‘I’, but I have read and heard mixed reviews about the pros and cons.
I left Australia clean shaven as I was meeting family upon my arrival, and none have really been told about my gender. I think overall I am read more as male/masculine so most of the time it’s a male airport security member that approaches me. In the past year it’s been a mixture of genders, with most often female officers attending to me. Throughout my travels I did on occasion receive the odd look from airport security and staff, this was mainly because I dressed more feminine than my facial hair would assume I would.
The one event that stood out regarding my gender was at customs, exiting Russia, preparing to fly out to England. I presented at the airport as I arrived into the country – unshaven, in a t-shirt and jeans, no binder, and a female passport. The lady at border security did several retakes from my face to my passport photo (which I have to say is almost 10yrs old AND included a recent photo with my approved Russia Visa application). The border security lady asked me to remove my hat and glasses, requested my name and date of birth, why I didn’t have the same hair cut/colour or same piercings (I explained the photo was almost 10yrs old and how I got new frames for my glasses too). I admit I was worried that I wouldn’t be let out of the country, but I was also confused/puzzled as to how I was allowed into the country looking the same way (unshaven, in a t-shirt and jeans, no binder, and a female passport).
While travelling around I opted to use the male toilets mostly, expect when I was out with family or the tour groups as I didn’t explain my gender. On occasion I used the women’s in Morocco, Italy and England without issue. In Russia I got referred to as ‘he’ and used the male toilets exclusively so as not to confuse anyone. While with the tour group I got to remain in the ‘male’ assigned room when we had a few hours or a day of waiting for transport – I honestly have no idea how I managed that as I do not feel I ‘pass’ that well over a long period of time.
While I can’t remember where I went through a full-body scanner I had no issues at all, by this I mean I went through and out without being stopped or asked questions. Just to note I do no bind or pack, and grew out my facial hair throughout my trip.