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Gender and Sexual Diversity Abroad

Laws, attitudes, social norms, and expectations regarding gender and sexual orientation vary greatly throughout the world. 

LGBTQIA+ communities exist all over the world, but may be more accepted in some parts than others. It’s important to understand that being out while you abroad can affect your experiences. Some countries and cultures are open and accepting of LGBTQIA+ people and same sex marriage is legal in 30 countries. However, you may encounter stares or even hostility in other places where homosexuality is against the law. 

To best prepare for your study abroad experience, we recommend researching attitudes toward gender and sexual diversity in countries you are considering studying abroad in. The Drake Global Engagement office is a safe space, and we are here to support you in finding the best academic program for you abroad. We want you to have a positive study abroad experience, regardless of how you identify.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What kinds of LGBTQIA+ resources and communities are available to me in my host country?
  • What are local laws and norms regarding gender or sexual orientation that might affect my experience abroad?
  • What are cultural norms for dating and friendship?
  • Is it safe for me to be out while I’m abroad? Am I comfortable talking about or sharing my identity with new friends? What housing is available to me in my host country (apartment, dorm, host family, etc.)?


Tips for Transgender and non-Binary Students

  • It's a good first step to inform yourself about the laws, attitudes, and culture surrounding gender in your desired destination. It is important to remember that not all countries accept or lawfully allow citizens to formally change their gender. The Global Engagement office can also help you to identify countries that may be more accepting or open-minded to transgender and non-binary students.
  • Keep in mind that people of different cultures may not understand language used in the United States, and for some, how you identify may be an entirely new concept. It may get tiring, but patience and understanding is key to communicating across cultures.
  • When creating an airline reservation, use the same name and gender that is on your government-issued ID. If your government-issued ID does not reflect your identified gender, you may be able to change it. Visit for more info.
  • If you need specific medications, supplies, or services to properly care for your needs, including those related to physical transition, speak to your program coordinator about the availability of medications abroad. When traveling with medications, carry them in their original packaging and bring proof of your prescriptions.

Plan Ahead

  • Researching locations before selecting a study abroad program can help enhance and prepare you for your international experience.
  • Once you select a location, familiarize yourself with the customs and laws of your host country.
  • Research whether talking about sexuality is taboo in your host country.
  • Research terms and definitions used in your host country to talk about LGBTQ+ issues.
  • Find a support network abroad. Speaking to your program leaders or using social media can help connect you with a support network abroad before departure.
  • Always put your safety first.