I hadn’t given it the slightest thought, but then I read TinyNibbles.com’s travel advisory (this site has been referenced previously at MaisonBisson). What do Politics, 9/11, & Sexual Identity have to do with each-other? Read:
Traveling when you do not appear as the gender on your identification is much more tricky…. If your driver’s license says “F” and you look like an “M,” you’ll have some explaining to do. With the Patriot Act, when they run your license through at the airport, it automatically links to all other federal databases, and if there are any discrepancies, again you’ll have some explaining to do — and a possible delay.
People in transition from one gender to another will want to travel with a letter from their therapist explaining that they are in transition, and be sure to have contact information for the therapist on the letters in case the security personnel are required to cross-check.
Be aware of the customs and social mores of the place you are traveling to. In Texas, they won’t look kindly at a suitcase full of vibrators (possessing more than three is currently illegal in that state). In devoutly Catholic countries, it is considered a crime against nature to appear as a different gender than that on your ID; for instance, in Columbia it is illegal to dress/act/present as the incorrect sex — they will jail you. Japan is equally unsympathetic to gender issues. Carry the phone number for your country’s embassy or consulate on you at all times. While you still may have to pray for sensitivity training for our American diplomatic staff, some embassies (such as Thailand, Brazil and the Philippines) are aware and understanding toward gender issues.
Of course, it’s more than just proving your identity. While most plastics alone won’t raise alarms during the baggage checks, items with batteries or especially dense items might. Officially, checkers are supposed be looking for weapons, but they’re not really sure what a weapon looks like all the time and will probably use any excuse to embarrass travelers. Remember, they don’t work for the airline, so they don’t care if they make your traveling experience good or bad, and their jobs are dead boring, so they’re probably looking for just this sort of thing to make their day go a little better.
According to the story, one traveler brought suite against the airline when their own baggage handlers went over the line and turned their mistake into the traveler’s embarrassment. Boring jobs or not, nobody is allowed to use their position to demean another person.