It’s something cisgender folks often take for granted, I think, the ease with which they can travel. When you pack for vacation you grab whatever clothing seems the most comfortable or appropriate for what you’re planning on doing. You grab your documents and you’re good to go.
It’s a much different experience for me when I travel. Tomorrow I am heading out on a trip to visit my family. My family loves me, but they don’t support my transition. This makes packing difficult. I have to weed through my tshirts to make sure that whatever I am wearing isn’t “gay” or too political. I have to stress about our family beach trip because I know there will be issues with the fact that I don’t shave my legs. I can’t really wear shorts for the same reason so even though it’ll be kind of hot while I’m back east, I’m mostly packing jeans. And then there’s the wedding we’ll be attending. Fortunately it’s a bit casual so I can get away with a dress shirt and dress pants, but it’s a bit stressful.
And all of this doesn’t even begin to deal with the simple stress of traveling by airport. I am fortunate in that the gender on my documents matches my appearance, but for many folks this is a huge issue because of the barriers around people being able to (or being able to afford to) change their documentation. I have to travel with needles and medication which isn’t a huge deal but is still an extra hassle. I stress about full body scanners, about whether I can wear my prosthesis or whether I should put it in my luggage (and the stress that if I put it in my luggage or carry on it will be deemed suspicious and result in an embarrassing search). I worry about pat downs or about potential outings/humiliation.
I realize that I am also privileged. Because I look like a straight white male I can sometimes avoid further scrutiny. I don’t have to worry that I am going to be singled out for my race as well as my trans* status. I am very aware of the ways in which I hold privilege in this area.
It’s things like this that make a vacation stressful. Things that are above and beyond the usual hassles of traveling. Things that most people don’t even have to think about.