Interview with trans travel blogger Aaron Edwards

We are very proud of our gay travel blogging community. It's quite a diverse family with some of the most talented and kind hearted people we've ever met.

The trans side of our LGBTQ family is quite underrepresented, so it was with great delight when we came across Aaron Edwards, a FTM trans traveller, blogging about his travels with his girlfriend. Continuing on from our trans gay stories with ladyboy Regina from Bangkok and trans man Finn from Berlin, Aaron gave us this interview of what it's like travelling as a trans man.

Hey there Aaron, introduce yourself!

Hi boys, my name is Aaron and I am originally from Chicago, USA. I am a transman and have been with my girlfriend Emily for over 3 years. We met in a gender inclusive/co-ed honours fraternity on campus at Illinois State University. My roommate and I invited her over to hang out and play card games, and since then she has never really left. We've been together for over 3 years and have been having a great time together!

Emily and I recently moved to Ukraine temporarily for work and decided that this was a great time for us to finally start a blog to document all our stories.

Interview with trans travel blogger
Aaron and Emily in Ukraine

How do you identify when travelling?

I am male and have changed my passport to reflect this. In the States it takes a lot of time, energy, and hoop jumping but you can change your sex on your driving license and passport. After a certain point in your transition, it looks more strange if you keep the old gender marker that doesn’t look anything like you.

Thankfully at airports I've never had any major issues, other than confusion with my syringes and needles for my injectable medication – they always sets off the metal detector, but other than a bit of delay caused by this, I've had no issues.

How was your coming out and passing?

As a young girl, I was a complete tomboy and was convinced I was Tarzan. My mom was really open minded and supportive. She let me wear whatever I wanted and let me be whoever I wanted to be.

I first learnt about homosexuality when I was 13 years old and identified as a lesbian, but it didn't truly feel the correct label to describe what I was feeling. I subsequently learnt about transgender when I was 17 and realised this is what I had been feeling all along, so in December 2012 I began hormone therapy and by age 18 I started going by my new name: Aaron.

My family could not have been more supportive if they tried. They even threw me a “IT'S A BOY!” party after I got my driving license changed.

It took around 1 year before I was no longer accidentally “misgendered” – facial hair was extremely useful for that! In December 2014 I had chest reconstruction surgery, which massively boosted my confidence and of course improved my travelling experiences to more tropical beach destinations.

interview with trans traveller Aaron Edwards
Aaron with his younger brother

Have you ever experienced transphobia growing up?

Fortunately never. I was never bullied growing up. The worse that happened was some “friends” stopped talking to me after they found out. 

After my father found out about my passing, he didn’t speak to me for 3 years and just recently started trying to rebuild our relationship. 

Have you ever encountered transphobia whilst travelling? 

I have not, but the fear is constantly there. Since I pass well, it never really comes up in conversation that I'm transgender. Sometimes, I do overhear people mocking and making jokes about trans people but I know it's not directed at me.

Hostels and bathrooms are also a constant source of fear when traveling. I'm particularly hyperaware when I get placed in a men’s bunk room in a hostel for example. Men’s bathrooms are also terrible. Depending on where you are they can be fancy and pristine, or they can be missing a door or simply contain a row of squat toilets out in the open; you can imagine why the latter makes me anxious!

I advise trans travellers to do their homework and check trans laws of a country before visiting. A country's trans laws are usually a good reflection of how the majority of the population feels. So for instance, countries which allow transgender into the military or make it easy to find doctors or insurance to cover medical costs are most likely to be trans-friendly places to visit.

interview with trans traveller Aaron
And the award for cutest couple of the year goes to…

Who were your trans role models growing up?

I didn't really have any. The closest thing I had to role models was going onto Instagram and following transmen who were a couple months further along in their hormone treatment than I was.

Any wise words for young Aarons out there?

Being you is the best thing you will ever do for yourself. Be selfish in this one thing and allow yourself to be happy living the way that makes you happy.

You can follow Aaron and his girlfriend on their travel blog and also on Facebook.

OUR FAVOURITE TRAVEL TIPS

⭐️ TRAVEL INSURANCE — We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

⭐️ SAFETY & SECURITY — All travelers (gay or not) can sometimes encounter danger when traveling. CloseCircle is your “virtual body guard” mobile app which provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or security risks. You can read more about CloseCircle in our article about how to stay safe whilst traveling.

⭐️ ONLINE ANONYMITY — A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must in many countries: it allows you to surf anonymously and maintain your privacy whilst traveling. You'll particularly need it in countries where gay dating apps are blocked by the government. We recommend ExpressVPN, a reliable and cost effective service which we used and loved during our travels.

⭐️ HOTELS or APARTMENTS — When we plan a trip, we always look for the best hotel deals. We love Booking.com because not only do they have a comprehensive listing of accommodation options, they also offer the best prices. Added bonus: they provide 24/7 support and free cancellation for most listings.

⭐️ SIGHTSEEING and ADVENTURES — When we travel somewhere, we like to seek out the best experiences, whether it is cooking with locals in Bangkok, hiking on a glacier in Patagonia, or going on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka. Our favorite place to look is GetYourGuide because they have over 30,000 highly rated activities, a user-friendly booking process with free cancellation and a 24 hour customer support.

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