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The Touring Guide for Transgender Travelers: All You Need To Know in 2017

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When you think Fort Lauderdale, Florida, do you also think, “USA’s most trans-friendly destination?” How about, “2017’s Transgender Travel destination with a $1.5 billion profit?

Me neither.

For most people, booking that much-needed summer getaway with your crew is as easy as a Google Flight search. However, for the LBGTQ community, vacation travel doesn’t come so effortlessly. Before reserving your Google Flight, there are a few points to consider.

In order to guarantee the best trip possible, following these cautionary steps will be sure to give you the most out of your vacation holidays.

Research the best getaways for transgender travel

Take the time to research your destination. It’s important to know which laws apply in the countries you’ll be visiting. The transgender community has faced discrimination even in states like Iowa within the past two years.

The New York Times states that about 75 countries still consider gay rights a crime, and even punishable by death.

The travel industry offers gay travelers everything from special cruises and tours to gay-friendly hotels. But there are still many places in the world, including many countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific, as well as Russia, where laws or social customs create an unwelcoming and unsafe environment for travelers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

“More than 75 countries consider consensual same-sex sexual relations a crime,” The article reports, “And in about 10 countries a person could be put to death for being gay, according to the United States State Department.”

While reading and researching, be sure to stay on the lookout for key points, such as entry restrictions into the country, and same-sex couple hotel limitations.

Use the resources readily available

Enrolling in the “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” provided by the US government page is highly recommended. This includes tips, alerts, and warnings when traveling in a foreign country.

Hiring a travel agent will take a huge load off your shoulders when it comes to research. Websites like Transgender Vacations offer, ‘Quality tailor made holidays, group cruises and group holidays, with a personal service, where our community can speak openly to like-minded people.” If it is your first time traveling alone, it’s always recommended to go through a personalized, professional route.

It is also suggested to travel with a group. Look into trans-friendly cruises with friends for special accommodations and a compatible community.

Ensure that all documents match your identity

Certify that all documents match the traveler. Whether it was your name, address or gender that were changed, visit the Your Passports page to update all travel documents.

All passengers 18 years of age or older are required to provide proof of identity at check-in and at the security checkpoint. TSA rules require that you provide your name, gender, and date of birth when making an airline reservation. The name, gender, and date of birth included in your reservation must match the government-issued photo ID you will provide at the airport.

Keeping up with the culture

Now that you’ve fortified all important points of travel, the final step is to embrace the different cultures you have immersed yourself in.

Be sure to check out the different sites, entertainment and historical landmarks that your country offers. Bear in mind that different cultures have different judicial systems. It’s important to act accordingly when it comes to your trip.

Cultural attitudes change with location. Hate crimes against the LGBTQ community are still found across the whole world. While you may feel at home in one place, another spot may require a higher awareness for transgender tourists.

Following these steps will secure a safe, fulfilling trip- whether this is your first or 50th time as a trans-traveler. More importantly, make the most out of your trip abroad and enjoy the attractions your journey has to offer. One day, travel arrangements will appear equal for all.

Originally posted 2017-08-16 13:22:30.

Julia is a writer and editor who enjoys experiences that expand her mind. You can check out her personal development blog at https://www.juliaismail.com/blog

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Eating Disorders in the LGBT Community

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October is LGBT History Month, and the first week of October is known as Mental Illness Awareness Week, which makes October the best month for sharing stories of struggles and successes as well as learning about issues that might not be so well known or understood in the community. Like eating disorders.

We all know the stereotype of the “typical” eating disorder patient: the white and wealthy woman who is young and vain; the mean girl, the cheerleader, the girl who’s “going through a phase.”

That’s all bullshit.

The truth? Eating disorders affect any gender, race, body type and sexuality. Eating disorders are not caused by one thing but by many complex issues stemming from behavioral, biological, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors. It’s not a phase and it’s not something you can grow out of it. It’s a lifelong battle, as common as autism but with less funding for research and treatment. And because of the stereotypes, because of the dismissal of this mental illness that has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, it’s deeply affecting the LGBTQ community that is almost defenseless against it.

I would know. I am a bisexual woman and I have battled with bulimia and anorexia for most of my life and continue to struggle with them today.

Now when we talk issues in the LGBT community, eating disorders aren’t always the first ones to pop up, if they ever do. However, LGBT-identifying people are more likely to develop an eating disorder than someone who is straight. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), some of the potential factors that could lead to eating disorders are the fear and anxiety of coming out and possible rejection, harassment, bullying and discrimination because of their sexuality, discordance between one’s sex and gender identity, homelessness or an unsafe home life, body image stereotypes in LGBT communities, and the lack of family/friend support and lack of treatment and education in the LGBT community. All of these factors can lead to depression, anxiety, and the need for a coping mechanism, all of which are factors that can lead to an eating disorder.

Under all the weight loss and the dieting, eating disorders are all about control; control of one’s body and to an extent, control over your outward identity. I developed my eating disorder at a point in my life when I was in the thick of my depression when I felt the most out of control of my life. I felt that I had at least some control over my weight, and it kept me grounded and stable, that I had some control over something, and I clung to it. When you feel like you’re drowning, an eating disorder can seem like a life vest.

Instead, it’s an anchor.

It’s easy to imagine and understand why someone who feels like an outcast because of their sexuality and gender identity might fall into an eating disorder. When people feel like their life is sinking because of something they can’t control, an eating disorder can feel like the only thing they have some control of in their lives.

However, eating disorders are an addiction. You become completely obsessed with losing weight, with purging, or counting calories. It completely takes over your life and makes your main focus in life continuing your eating disorder until it eventually takes your life. You can’t quit anorexia or bulimia at the drop of a hat; it’s a life-long struggle to recovery, made even more difficult in a world where most people don’t understand and discriminate against, people with an eating disorder. It’s even worse when you’re discriminated against because of your sexuality.

Some statistics, given by the NEDA:

  • As early as 12 years old, gay, lesbian and bisexual teens may be at higher risk of binge-eating and purging than their heterosexual peers.
  • One study shows that gay and bisexual boys reported being significantly more likely to have fasted, vomited or taken laxatives or diet pills to control their weight.
  • Elevated rates of binge-eating and purging by vomiting or laxative abuse was found for both males and females who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or “mostly heterosexual” in comparison to their heterosexual peers.
  • Compared to other populations, gay men are disproportionately found to have body image disturbances and eating disorder behavior (STATS). Gay men are thought to only represent 5% of the total male population but among men who have eating disorders, 42% identify as gay.
  • Compared with heterosexual men, gay and bisexual men had a significantly higher prevalence of lifetime full syndrome bulimia, subclinical bulimia, and any subclinical eating disorder.
  • Black and Latino LGBT have at least as high a prevalence of eating disorders as white LGBTs

As you can see, eating disorders affect everyone in the community. However, research on LGBT populations and eating disorders is limited, mainly because there’s still lots of research that still needs to be done in order to better understand eating disorders. Also, many LGBT members are still “in the closet” when it comes to their mental illness. Eating disorders are all about secrets, and anyone who’s LGBT knows how to keep a secret. When already trying to gain acceptance for one part of your identity, trying to gain acceptance for two can feel completely impossible. Constantly worried about rejections from loved ones, and the constant state of admissions seems unbearable. It’s why I stayed silent about my illness and identity for so many years, out of fear and self-preservation.

But people die from eating disorders every year because they stay silent. Because they are afraid.

I refuse to become another one of those statistics.

There is a silver lining to all of this. According to studies, a sense of connectedness to the gay community was related to fewer current eating disorders, which means that feeling connected to your community may help the fight against eating disorders.

 

So for this Mental Health Week and this LGBT History Week, do your part. If you are affected by an eating disorder, speak your truth and find ways to seek help. If someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, be an ally to them. To quote the great Troy Bolton, “We’re all in this together.”

If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, please seek more information at nationaleatingdisorder.org, or by calling their Helpline at (800) 931-2237 or text “NEDA” 741741.

Originally posted 2017-10-10 18:08:41.

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The Coward: A Look into Homophobia in Queer Spaces

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Theatre has always been a safe space for the LGBT+ community. It has given people of any sexuality and gender identity a platform to explore themselves and their relationships, as well as their fears and trauma, and share those experiences with everyone. LGBT+ theatre shows the truth, but sometimes it’s a hard truth, meant to make audiences uncomfortable but aware of the hardships that the queer community faces.

In her play The Coward, playwright Kati Schwartz explores the effects of homophobia in the queer community. The show focuses on a young actress named Jill, who spends the summer at an isolated summer stock theater company with a small group of actors. This group includes a man named Christopher, who claims to be straight despite his obvious attraction to a male castmate. His homophobia, fueled by his strong religious beliefs, clashes constantly against Jill’s questioning of her own sexuality, leading to a tension-filled show.

Schwartz is incredible at mixing realism and fantasy in her shows, and The Coward is no exception. Jill carries a wand and casts spells throughout the play, though it is unclear whether her castmates can see the spells’ effects or not. However, the plot of the show itself is very much based in reality.

The Coward, as with most of the plays I write, is based off a real life experience,” said Schwartz. “What you see is my interpretation of that experience with some witchcraft and magical realism sprinkled in.” Schwartz is adept at mixing fantasy and reality while still keeping the focus on such a heavy subject matter. She is able to transform her experience with an aggressive person into a story that balances the inherent tension and sadness with the surreal.

Schwartz attempts to figure out Christopher’s homophobia in the face of his own sexuality along with Jill and the audience, and it certainly is not always easy.

“In the first draft, the Christopher character was a female, and the story was much simpler,” said Schwartz. “Once I switched that character to a closeted, self loathing gay man, the themes of the play became a little more challenging for me to explore.” With this switch, Schwartz dove into an exploration of internal homophobia within the LGBTQ+ community and its effects.

“The resulting changes to the script offer more equality between Jill and Christopher, and more opportunity for discussion on who the true coward is,” said Schwartz.   

Though the focus of the show is on issues within the LGBT+ community, Schwartz knows that this show is important for people of any sexuality to see and understand.

“Rifts and prejudice exist within any community,” said Schwartz. “Something I hope that people of any sexual orientation can take away is a keener sense of one’s responsibility to speak up when someone is being mistreated regardless of the immediate social ramifications.”

The Coward is playing at the Duke on 42nd Street on October 9th in New York City, as part of the New York New Works Festival. It is an important piece of theater, that should be seen by many. Share this with the theater lover in your life, and be on the lookout for more from Schwartz soon.

Originally posted 2017-10-10 15:42:41.

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How to Travel to This Gorgeous Liberal European Town With No Roads

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This town is called the land of water, and is also known as the venice of Holland. It is Giethoorn, located in the National Park Weerribben-Wieden in the Netherlands. There are no roads here, and the visitor can view beautiful thatched farms, lakes, reed beds, forests, wooden bridges, and greenery. This town is also gay-friendly, because it is located in the first country to recognize gay marriage in 2001.

Here is a step-by-step guide for travel to Giethoorn, and how to explore its beauty, culture, and community:

Book Your Flight to Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Plan your trip to Amsterdam, because from there, you can travel to Giethoorn.  There are numerous flights that go to Amsterdam, and here are cheap flights that were recently found by travelers. The flight will arrive at Amsterdam Airport Schipol, which has shopping and dining to occupy your time. If you decide you want to stay in Amsterdam for a while before traveling to Giethoorn and have booked a hotel, then the Schipol Hotel Shuffle can take you there.  

Once you are ready to travel, then from Amsterdam Airport Schipol, you can take the bus or boat to travel to Giethoorn.  You can also travel by train, if you wish, and you can use 9292 to plan your trip.  

Plan Your Stay in Giethoorn

Hotel de Pergola. Source: Booking.com

If you plan to stay in Giethoorn for longer than a day, then book your stay in the hotel of your choice. Above is a photo of the Hotel de Pergola, which is situated on the waterfront, but there are also other great options. There are some reasonably priced places to stay, such as the Fletcher Hotel Restaurant de Eese-Giethoorn, which has an outdoor tennis court, a national park, restaurant, and indoor pool. One traveler recommended another place, the Hotel Giethoorn because it was super cozy.  

Day 1: Travel on a Boat in the Town with No Roads

Travelers on boats. Source: A Wanderlust for Life

There are many things you can do on your first day here, and one option is to travel on a boat, because after all, this charming town has no roads, but it does have water. Canoe trails are 90 kilometers long!  In fact, the postman has to travel by punt boat, to deliver mail.  

You can rent kayaks, sailboats, and rowboats. If you want to boat by yourself, consider renting a whisperboat, which are open punter boats equipped with a silent electric motor (why it’s been given the name ‘whisper’). You can book your boat in advance, and you can even book a day tour which includes the whisperboat, coffee, sandwiches, drinks and dinner.  

Day 2: Go Cycling

The Giethoorn Weerribben cycling route. Source: Holland-Cycling.com

Another popular activity here is cycling. The Giethoorn Weeribben cycling route is 46 kilometers long, and there are thatched cottages, narrow bridges and wetlands on the way! You will see these at the farming village of Giethoorn. The route will also take you through the historic town of Blokzijl, the National Park De Wieden, and the villages of Jonen and Dwarsgracht.  

Day 3: Hike and Explore

Giethoorn. Source: Holland.com

If you want to explore Giethoorn more, and are a hiking enthusiast, then consider the 15.3 kilometer walking route, which starts at Eendrachtsplein, and then follows the green route.  There is a walking network which guides you, so follow the colored arrows. Sights to watch out for are canals, thatched farmhouses, and the largest lake of the Kop van Overikssel, the Beulakerwijde.  

Before You Go: What to Bring With You

Sunscreen

As you plan your trip, including flight, accommodation, and activities, consider what to bring with you.  Expect warm weather here, so bring sunscreen, lip balm and a hat.  But it can rain, so be sure to bring a raincoat and umbrella, so that you’re on the safe side.  Other items to include in your backpack are a camera, first aid kit, hiking boots, a torchlight, SD card, and shorts or pants with pockets.   

Where do you plan on vacationing this year?  If this European destination sounds good to you, then consider planning a trip.

 

Originally posted 2017-10-09 17:23:57.

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