My recent trip to M’era Luna is probably the last time I’ll be using my male passport as it expires next year. Hopefully by then I’ll have the paperwork from the clinic to change the name and gender. This should make travelling a lot easier as my current name and photo are very much pre transition
Anyway I thought I’d write a little about my experience travelling through Dover and Calais. For those that haven’t used the ferries or Channel Tunnel you undergo all border formalities before you board. So in Dover you pass UK then French border controls before boarding the ferry and returning from Calais you pass French controls then UK controls.
Previously at Dover our coach has joined the line for French checks, but has been waved through as it was a closed tour and the French were busy searching the Megabus scheduled services, however since then there have been several terror attacks in France so this time I was expecting more through checks. This seemed to be the case as we were pulled in for a UK exit check. This was carried out by port staff and all they did was scan the passports of everyone on board. The French as usual weren’t interested in our tour coach and we were waved through their checkpoint and in to the lines for the next ferry.
|By Gast32 (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons|
Of course within mainland Europe there are no routine checks at the border crossings, just a sign saying Belgium, Netherlands or Germany. However random checks can take place so it’s a good idea to have your passport to hand
On the way back I knew there will always be a full check at the UK border in Calais, where everybody has to get off the coach and go through passport control on foot. Previously I hadn’t had any issue with UK Border Force but this time they seemed to take issue with the fact I wear a wig. I was asked if I had any ID with my “current look” on it. Unfortunately I’d left my female driving licence in my bag on the coach (in hindsight my licence is in my real name rather then my old one like my passport, that would have probably caused a bigger problem). I was then asked if I’d be ok to lift my wig in public or if I wanted to go somewhere private to do so. I wasn’t too fussed (most of the people on the coach had seen me without when I needed to use the camp showers) so just lifted it a bit and the guard said that was OK and waved me through.
So all in all not as smooth as before but nothing too major. I think my main advice would be to have secondary ID if your passport contains an old photo. While removing my wig was potentially embarrassing, it was good that they did offer to use alternative ID, a private room and only have me lift it the bare minimum. I’d suggest updating your passport photo if you wish to reduce the likelihood of this happening.
Do any of my trans readers have any good or bad experiences of travel? (I’ll admit I’ve yet to try air travel while presenting female), Let me know in the comments below.