Visiting Egypt as a transgender traveller

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The Sphinx. The Pyramids of Giza. Desert moons, Valley of the Kings, spices, music, the Nile.  

As a baby, I used to be fascinated by the tradition of historical Egypt – papyrus scrolls, King Tut and the tombs pharaohs have been buried in for eternal life. Flicking by the pages of the National Geographic Egypt e book my mom gave me impressed my curiosity about what appeared like one other world.  

Recently, my final bucket listing journey turned a actuality. Visiting Egypt – my first journey to the African continent – reignited my childlike marvel for the primary time in a long time. It nonetheless feels surreal to say that I’ve lastly skilled the Motherland. 

Facing my fears 

When Intrepid invited me and a few of my transgender and physique positivity advocate friends to hitch a tour of our selecting, the strain was on. It felt like a as soon as in a lifetime proposal, and whereas I explored all of the choices – Antarctica, Southeast Asia, Vietnam, locations I’ve dreamed of going for years – Egypt saved resurfacing in my thoughts.  

And but, I stubbornly thought to myself – if not now, then when? 

As a visual transgender human rights advocate, I’m used to travelling to locations the place political and social attitudes in direction of transgender and queer folks differ. But on this occasion, the considered travelling for leisure, fairly than advocacy work, as a Black trans lady, to a rustic with quite a few anti-LGBTQ+ legal guidelines and attitudes, offered a quiet concern that I couldn’t shake. 

It is against the law to be transgender or gay in Egypt and the nation has been shunned by human rights advocacy teams all over the world for its aggressive transphobic and homophobic regulation enforcement.  

And but, I stubbornly thought to myself – if not now, then when?  

Eye-opening adventures 

In late 2022 I landed in Cairo prepared for an ‘Indiana Jones’ fashion Premium Egypt journey. I knew that Intrepid prides itself on its group journey experiences that soak up all of the highlights whereas additionally encouraging you to get to know the native folks and tradition on a deeper degree – and I discovered that it lives as much as that purpose in so some ways. 

I’d by no means performed group journey earlier than and didn’t fairly know what to anticipate. But I quickly realised I used to be surrounded by like-minded travellers from all over the world who shared lots of the identical aspirations for his or her first tour of Egypt as I did.  

Our first journey? Seeing the Great Pyramids at dawn. From there we adventured by camel, ate kushari (a tasty combination of pasta, rice, lentils and fried onions) with locals at a avenue meals restaurant, toured museums crammed with historical artifacts and had cocktails by the pool at our resort, studying extra about one another and our elements of the world. We went on to go to the spice markets in Aswan, tour the Nile by riverboat, journey a felucca to the Nubian villages and scorching air balloon over the Valley of Kings collectively (I’d encourage everybody to participate within the latter – even in the event you’re afraid of heights like me!).  

A particular second that stays with me is seeing the hieroglyphs and representations of Hatshepsut, a visibly gender nonconforming pharaoh. Seeing your self represented in historical past – particularly as each a Black individual and a trans lady – is phenomenal.

Tips for visiting Egypt as a plus-size LGBTQ+ traveller 

As an LGBTQ+ traveller, your private security is all the time in your thoughts – that’s the fact. Bold as I could also be, I’ve to steadiness being visibly transgender whereas additionally being respectful of the land I’m visiting, its folks and its customs.  

Here are some steps you may take to make sure you have a superb expertise.  

Travel with a bunch 

If you’re LGBTQ+ and determine to go to Egypt, travelling on an organised group tour might help scale back any anxieties you might have. I spoke to Intrepid workers upfront and so they took my security issues into cautious consideration, working behind the scenes with airline, transportation and resort workers to make sure I had the very best journey attainable. 

To be trustworthy, I used to be anticipating a white, cis, male, British chief however was pleasantly stunned to study that Intrepid hires native folks wherever attainable. I felt additional snug travelling with chief Eman, an area Egyptologist and feminist Muslim lady who’s blazing a path in a male-dominated trade. 

Be conscious of native legal guidelines and customs 

It’s vital to think about native legal guidelines and customs. For instance, in locations like Aswan and Luxor, ladies don’t smoke in public. Men don’t share resort rooms, and girls costume modestly even within the excessive desert warmth. Yes, guidelines and attitudes are extra versatile for vacationers, however I additionally assume following native customs and values wherever attainable is an indication of respect.  

My sisters Diamond and Breonna struggled with the modest costume codes, however they tailored and usually folks appreciated that we have been attempting. I believe this is the reason, whether or not they knew it or not, folks engaged the three of us – all Black, American, transgender ladies – in dialog, which I believe can solely assist to shift perceptions of trans folks total, simply by advantage of us making just a little effort. 

Go at your personal tempo 

As a plus-size traveller, touring historical temples and websites within the warmth may be bodily gruelling. There have been of us in my group who do CrossFit and marathons and even they have been wiped by the tip of every day. You’ll be doing numerous strolling, scrambling over rocks and squeezing into tight areas – so gauge what you are able to do and modify accordingly. 

For me, generally that meant staying behind because the group crawled on all fours to get right into a tiny tomb. One day, I skipped a temple go to to remain in my room and relaxation. You are the guardian of your care, and I’m proud I pushed myself to maintain up with the group as a lot as I might, climbing out and in of feluccas and mountain climbing hills to the villages. I took care of myself every time I felt I had reached my restrict and communicated with my information when and the place I would wish to switch.  

At the tip of the day, everybody needs what you need: a very good time and a memorable journey. Also, Egypt will not be a spot for cute sneakers (belief me, I ruined a pair of designer sandals). Sacrifice your have to match your outfit together with your footwear in favour of tennis sneakers with help – you received’t remorse it.

Aria travelled as a visitor of Intrepid on our 9-day Premium Egypt journey. Follow her adventures on Instagram @ariasaid.



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