An LGBT travel company has announced the UK’s first transgender ‘celebration’ cruise, where members of the trans community can holiday with friends and family and “meet like-minded people”.
While the cruise is not the first for the trans community, the tour operator insists it is the first “celebration” cruise, featuring a series of talks and workshops delivered by celebrities and industry leaders from the transgender community.
The cruise, which will tour the Mediterranean an depart in mid-June, has been created by Focus Diva Travel, a Brighton-based operator specialising in LGBT+ holidays since 2012.
“There are many trans people who don’t feel comfortable going out in public as their true selves. They can lack confidence, feel isolated and find it difficult to share experiences,” Focus Diva Travel founder and director, Jennifer Grant, told The Huffington Post UK .
“This is the perfect cruise holiday for our guests to not only meet and mix with like-minded men and women, but also to relax and enjoy their travels in a safe and friendly environment.”
The cruise, which include visits to historic cities in Europe, will welcome Kellie Maloney, trans former heavyweight British boxing promoter and Latest TV’s on-screen newscaster and head of diversity, Sophie Cook, the first ever trans news anchor in the UK and Europe.
But while the cruise is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, some trans activists have reservations.
Harry Taylor, 20, told The Huffington Post UK, that in order for the space to feel truly “safe” for the community there are lots of elements to consider.
“Is it a trans-only space? Are the crew going to be trans too? Will there be gender-neutral toilets and changing rooms? This really makes a difference to how ‘safe’ the space is and how much you feel that you can express yourself.”
Taylor explains that another major issue trans people face when going on holiday are passports.
“Many people who identify as transgender have not changed their name or gender legally on their passports. In the past I have worried that I didn’t look ‘male enough’ on my passport pre-testosterone hormone therapy and that I might be questioned on this by airport control and immigration. It would be very embarrassing and uncomfortable if this was to happen.
“In airports, when going through security, the lines are split into two lines: ‘male’ and ‘female’ which can be uncomfortable for transgender and gender non conforming people. In security lines, I’ve been body searched and questioned about what my binder is. (A binder is an item of clothing that binds my breasts to my chest tightly to give the appearance of a flat chest.)”
Despite this, Taylor sees potential in the cruise: “I hope that it will eradicate some of these issues that transgender people face, and give opportunities for trans people to go on holiday without worrying about perceptions, airports, suitable changing and toilets.”
Nikki Hayden, 26, welcomes the cruise, but is concerned about the level of accessibility in the wider community.
“Any business which attempts to provide a service specifically catered towards transgender people is great. Many transgender people have valid safety concerns so having a safe space is important to trans people, to allow us to feel like we can be ourselves without the fear of being attacked, physically and/or sexually (which too many of us are),” Hayden told HuffPost UK.
“I do however have concerns that it would mostly only be accessible to the privileged few, those that are financially secure, usually white and older. As a transgender person you are more likely to be unemployed or not be able to work due to gender dysphoria or other inter-related mental health issues (like severe anxiety and depression), so any opportunity to reduce the costs without jeopardising the experience should be looked at.”