Looking for a truly trans-friendly honeymoon spot

Updated Oct 12 2015
meggyfin
Photo courtesy of the Sunseeker Maui.
Photo courtesy of the Sunseeker Maui.
Hey there, I am someone getting married… it's just that the bride/groom thing doesn't work for me. We are a queer/trans/genderqueer couple, and I so appreciate Offbeat Bride. I feel like this is the only place where I see me. I am really happy to find a world of people who can dig on queerness and rethink old traditions for new aspirations.

I have a question for you and your readers: I am looking for a trans-friendly, really truly friendly, honeymoon spot.

We worry about plumbing, about being questioned, about being unsafe, about violence nearly constantly.

We realized that dreaming of our honeymoon didn't feel so much like dreaming any more, rather more like risk avoidance.

I am betting that you or your readers have great ideas for gender-affirming places that are fun and delightful.

Thanks so much for all you bring to this world of getting hitched. -H

Hey H! First, congratulations to you and your partner. Second, thanks for the warm fuzzies about Offbeat Bride. We really work our non-gender-specific tails off to make this place feel all-encompassing.

Okay, now on to the task at hand. Recommending really truly trans-friendly honeymoon spots. When I received your question, I was at my family home on the wonderful island of Maui. So, you know, I may be a little biased, but I'm going to recommend Hawaii as a choice honeymoon spot. Allow me to gush some more about my favorite state, and then I want to hear more reader suggestions…

With the passage of Hawaii's House Bill 546, Hawaii became the 13th state to ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity not only in employment, but for housing and public accommodations. And on top of that Hawaii law has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 1991. How's that for some aloha spirit.

Of course, I'm writing this from the perspective of a cisgender straight chick, so my experience of Hawaii (Maui in particular) as being a very open-minded and accepting locale, may be a bit biased. Because of that, I thought I'd reach out to Michael Waddell, the General Manager of the Maui Sunseeker — one of the ONLY hotels that primarily markets to the LGBT community (but, of course, welcomes all). Here's what he had to say…

We are a very mixed use type property where our guest makeup is about 50% gay men, 40% lesbian and 10% straight. Honestly we do not get a lot of bi-sexual or transgender guests on property, but those that do stay with us find it a most welcoming environment.

Maui in general is a very open and welcoming place, especially for a honeymoon destination. One of the main reasons my partner of 39 years and I moved here 12 years ago was we felt comfortable and most importantly safe to be ourselves. As a long time couple, we have had our share of discrimination across the world. We have never felt discrimination here. Maui is a wonderful place for a honeymoon for virtually anyone, regardless of their orientation.

Regarding whether Maui is a truly trans-friendly location, I would say yes mainly because the island is very open to most any lifestyle. Just the passing of the civil unions law last year certainly raised the awareness in the LGBT market on Maui and we are fighting today for full marriage rights.

In May 2011, the Hawaii Legislature passed HB 546 [the Transgender Protection Bill]. This should provide some insight regarding the legal protections afforded with in the state.

Michael also went so far as to speak to his staff members about this issue. One in particular said that she knows and/or has worked with many trans-gender people living on this island.

Along with Michael, I also contacted a travel agent friend of mine — Bruce Fisher from Hawaii Aloha Travel (based in Oahu) — who then posed the question to his many Hawaiian-based Facebook followers. Some of the responses ranged from "I think so" to "Hawaiian culture has a history of accepting the aikane" and "[Hawaii is] mahu-friendly for days."

But no matter where you choose to honeymoon, I hope y'all have an amazingly romantic time!

So, Hawaii is MY recommendation for trans-friendly honeymoon spot. But I'd love to hear from our trans-identified and trans-partnered readers about THEIR recommendations!

  1. Disclosure: I am also a straight cisgender lady so I don't have firsthand experience or knowledge on this topic to offer, nor have I ever been to (or even heard of) this particular resort.

    But. I *have* been to Maui. And not only is it frigging BEAUTIFUL, oh my god I would go back there so hard – I've been to four Hawaiian islands and I'd say it's the prettiest of the ones I've seen – but Hawaii really, truly is a friendly place. Add to this that the resort discussed in this post caters specifically to LGBT couples, and I think this recommendation is awesome!

    The guy quoted in the piece mentioned Haleakala – and I will also add that if you decide to go with Maui, do it do it do it omg do it. One of the best things we did on all four islands – second only to surfing. Go for sunrise over the clouds, it's unreal.

  2. We just returned from our wedding/honeymoon in Key West. We spent so much time with drag queens and people from all spectrums of the gay community. We are a straight couple, by the way. We had a ton of fun. Key West even has an LGBT visitor center and activities just to serve the LBGT community. Also, they have strictly LGBT hotels. I wish you lots of love and luck! Key West is awesome. And if you need a ceremony, my lady Laurine at Key West Wedding Services did our ceremony and loves LBGT weddings. 🙂

    • I so, so second Key West. I am a Florida native and Key West is totally awesome, especially for the LGBT community.

  3. I have to mention Provincetown, MA. Most east-coast queer people are familiar with this mecca, but I've encountered quite a few people recently who aren't so I'll mention it. This beach resort/artist retreat is out at the very end of the world, on Cape Cod, and is probably THE queer-friendliest place on earth…. And when I say queer-friendly, what I mean is, queer-owned-and-operated, full time, straight-people-are-a-minority, queergasm of a town. Seriously. Pride flags line the main street. Every weekend has a queer theme, and HRC has a flagship store there. If you're honeymooning in summer, this is def the safest/most affirming place to be. Just watch out for the drag queens who will grab you off the street and make you drink with them on stage. 😉 happy honeymooning!

    • Yes to Ptown! I live there during the summer. It's sooo gorgeous, and I love it, and it is the most queer-friendly place I've ever been, AND the drag queens actually sing (I was totally baffled the first time I went to a lip synched drag show). (Though it's not quite as dreamy as your description. But it's still the dreamiest place I've ever been, gay-wise.)

      I would avoid the Portuguese Festival and 4th of July–town is very crowded and not as friendly. And also maybe Family Pride Week, unless you have kids of your own–there are piles of overtired kids everywhere. Bear Week all the way! And if you're going in September/early October, the cape is extra gorgeous then. The light is 14 carat gold, the air is crisp, and town is quiet and peaceful (if you're into that). And rooms are cheaper!

      If you decide to go to Ptown and want recs for accomodations/restaurants/entertainment, feel free to email me: katemullan1 at gmail.

    • I agree! Two of my favorite people are getting married there today actually! I wish I could have gone to show them support! I love destination weddings, but it's bittersweet that they couldn't get married here in Mississippi with all their loved ones with them. They're both very social, outgoing people and only 15-20 actually got to go up there. I'm hoping in a few years they'll have a recommittment ceremony or something so we can celebrate with everyone.

  4. http://www.hicksville.com/

    That's where my husband and I went. It is warm and accommodating and full of the kind of folks that frequent websites like this one. Also, all the public bathrooms and the shower (if you end up in one of the cheeper cabins that doesn't have its own toilet/shower, like we did) are gender neutral (and clean as all get out), which I know can sometimes make a difference/help avoid having to deal with noisy assholes.

    • Yes to Hicksville ! My partner – who is trans – and I are super huge fans of this place. A secluded artists retreat in the middle of a badass desert makes for amazing bbq's, juke box rock outs and party games at sunset. Super non judgemental , awesome manager , all around amazing time. Id also get a trailer with your own bathroom but we did not and used the community with no issues and the cleanliness is really remarkable ! We make it a point to go when we can just for fun.

  5. I know a few years back an old friend of mine was doing trans friendly holidays abroad – she might know of some good places if you haven't already found one. You can find her on facebook – chrisie edkins x

  6. Sitges in Spain is very LGBT friendly. It is very close to Barcelona, and a lovely place to visit. It is apparently very tolerant, and is also family friendly, i.e. suitable for everyone and non-judgmental. The weather is great much of the year, but for beach holidays, from early June to late September it's great.

  7. My partner and I are doing a mini-honeymoon right after our wedding (then a longer thing in the fall). For the mini-honeymoon, we're relying on the list of bed-and-breakfasts in purpleroofs.com . The site is supposedly geared toward LGBT travelers (although, really mostly to gay men and lesbians) and the B&B owners check boxes for who is welcome. We ruled out everyone who didn't check "transgender" and picked from one of the remaining choices. They have listings for all over the world, but I don't know how extensive the listings are outside the U.S.

    My partner and I usually get read as a straight couple so we don't have this option, but I have friends who pass as a lesbian couple (despite not being) who just decided to go to a lesbian oceanfront B&B in Costa Rica. Sure, one of them got mispronouned the whole time, but it felt easier for them than trying to go to a different place and trying to deal with confused people the whole time.

    We're planning to do a city trip for our longer fall honeymoon; we'll probably end up in Barcelona. I don't know how trans-friendly it is, but I'm guessing at least as much as where we live in the southern U.S. Plus, my partner does have passing privilege.

  8. Disclaimer: I'm a queer cis woman, so this isn't lived experience. Brighton, on the south coast of England, is a very queer positive place. It has a trans woman running for MP; gender-neutral options on official forms; an annual Pride festival, etc. It's a great holiday destination by the seaside, easy to get to from Gatwick airport, very close to London.

    • Yeahhh Brighton! Particularly the Kemptown part (which conveniently has many of the nicest hotels and B&Bs).

      • Brighton is fantastic! Great beachy vibe but of course, oddly English. It's historically a city where people have escaped from London for fun (and maybe a bit naughty) weekends. Lots of hen and stag parties, tons of drag clubs and gender fluid bars, and LGBT people from all over the world. Brighton has a reputation for being quirky and fun, so you'll find everything from an awesome Pride in the summer to zombie walks at Halloween. Fun pier with carnival games and rides, and the hilariously inappropriate and sumptuous Brighton Pavilion.

  9. I'm pretty heteroflexible and a cis woman, so like many others posting, this isn't coming from personal experience. However, I lived and worked in Thailand for a few years and it is incredibly friendly and accepting towards trans individuals, who they usually regard as a third sex and it's as normal as can be. Parents are often thrilled to have a trans child, and they are very visible and have a large community throughout the country. Lesbian/gay attitudes are not to be grouped together with trans however, and Thai attitudes towards gay/lesbian couples can be a bit more reserved/frosty, but things are changing at a faster rate than in the west. Not sure if applies for you, but just so you know…

    • I second that! I've been living in Thailand for 3 years now and I can say that I have found it extremely accepting of queer and transgendered people (I am neither, mind you). There is in Thailand the concept of "the third sex" and most non-queer people have no qualms about trans/queer people in their lives in nearly all capacities from friends to wait staff to teachers. That said, there aren't very many legal safe guards (I.e. no gay marriage yet, and trans folk cannot legally change their sex, even post-op). But as a tourist here you won't really run into any problems. Thailand (the islands especially) is a magical and beautiful place full of very friendly people and is usual a highlight in any queer-friendly travel guide.
      You might get looked at for being a farang (non-Thai, or foreigner) but not for being a queer/trans couple.

  10. It sounds like what you want now more than anything else is security and the ability to relax… but since you also want to put the fun back in dreaming, you might consider Bonito, Brazil.

    It's a tiny town in western Brazil known for eco-tourism activities (crystal clear rivers, snorkeling, waterfall hikes, rappelling, etc). People here are small-town friendly while being used to people coming from all over the country and world. I bet a lot of people here don't know what "trans" means, and if they did they might have an opinion about it, but in my experience people tend to be 1) aware that the town depends on happy tourists, 2) either excited to meet tourists or just totally in awe and panicked over the language barrier 3) content with a live-and-let-live attitude. As a cis-gendered female foreigner living here with my female partner, I've encountered ignorance only when truly getting into deeper-level conversations with people, and even then it's not mean-spirited. I feel safe walking down the street holding my partner's hand or eating out with her, and I know of at least a few other gay/lesbian couples and individuals who live here and are very much part of the community. I've also never seen anyone do anything worse than call my partner "gringa" when she's wearing "boy clothes" (her oversized workout shorts and t-shirt) and that's just because they attribute her clothing choice to the 10 years she spent outside the country. As a foreigner, you can do a lot of things that locals might get shit for, just because people will expect you to be different and attribute everything to the fact that you're not Brazilian.

    My partner also works at a travel agency here and excitedly tells me about clients she thinks might be same-sex couples or trans. I can vouch for the fact that if you decided to come here and went through them, you would be well taken-care of and treated with the same respect with which they treat all their clients. Your gender identity and presentation and any needs associated with that would play as much or as little a role in your interactions with them as you wanted it to. As in, they'll happily help you with any concerns or considerations you bring up, but not treat you any differently otherwise.

    All that said, you'd still have to deal with the flights and customs to get here, and I know for a fact that most places here have men's and women's restrooms. On the other hand, language barriers give you a huge buffer to ignore people, and you can always hire a translator who would be able to help deal with anything that did come up….I'd love to be your translator if you come at a time that doesn't conflict with my teaching schedule!

    If you decide to look into it, my partner works at http://www.h2oecoturismo.com.br/ (Site in Portuguese but if you write in English they'll respond in English).

    Whatever you decide, congratulations on getting married and best wishes for a wonderful honeymoon!

    • I just want to say how incredibly awesome you are for this thorough, thoughtful, and helpful answer – and, y'know, the offer to help them sort out their vacation with you. You are a super awesome person.

  11. I'm just going to put it out there that Seattle is a wonderful place to visit, rain or shine. We have a pride festival every year and parade, dozens of lgbtq bars and clubs on Capitol Hill, the scenery is to die for.

  12. I am bi lady in a 9 year lesbian relationship with my fiancee. We live in Nyc and are always comfortable being a couple in public anywhere in Manhattan below 110th st. There are lots of LGBT friendly, well, *everything* all over, with a particularly large and spirited concentration 23rd st and below.
    If the big city isn't your style and you want overt hospitality, then try the Concord, Lincoln, Lexington towns outside Boston. We visit at least twice a year. Not only is MA the most LGBT friendly state, but we were told by a middle aged woman at the beautiful Walden Pond that we looked really picturesque holding hands near the water. We are comfortable being an obvious couple and have received the warmest hospitality. EVER. It is great if you like history or classic literature, as these towns saw the beginning of the American Revolution and the literary transcendentalism movement…think Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott, Hawthorn, etc.
    Also, in both NY and MA I use the men's room sometimes (out of impatience in my case) and nobody has ever confronted me.

  13. I am a resident and lover of Portland, Oregon. The winter months aren't quite as pretty, but no one knows how to have fun in the summer like Portlanders do! Mount Hood is gorgeous and has the most spectacular cabins, too. The city has such a great accepting vibe, and it is definitely the place my queer friends say they feel more accepted and free here than anywhere else.

  14. I'm a cisgendered queer woman. I've done a lot of traveling with queer/straight/trans young people in latin america. I'd reccommend Little Corn Island, which is off of Big Corn in Nicaragua. It's off the beaten path, tiny, accepting, and the little hostels/hotels around have been very accepting of the youth I've brought. Mostly all-gender bathrooms. Casa Iguana, the hotel, is especially good at supporting our trans youth. Pretty awesome, stunningly beautiful.

  15. My first thought after reading the question was Hawaii as well. We stayed in what amounted to a condo – we had our own kitchen, bathroom, everything. We basically didn't interact with anyone, beyond checking in and out of the hotel, and other transactions like that (though we did go to a luau …) I'd second (third) the suggestion that Hawaii is lovely.

  16. My partner (who is not trans IDed but is gender nonconforming) and I recently did a week at the ACE Palm Springs. No one batted an eyelash at us in the pool area. The changing rooms for the sauna and steam room are gendered but you are close enough to your room that you can change there. The sauna and steam room themselves are not gendered. There's not much to do other than lay around and/or look at pretty mountains so bathrooms outside the hotel were not an issue.

  17. Inn on the Blue Horizon in Vieques Island, Puerto Rico is LGBT friendly. The last time we were there, we were the only straight couple staying at the Inn. It is very private and very romantic. The overall island is very private and has the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen.

  18. Thanks for the suggestions queers and dears. It is a tough question isn't it because gay friendly doesn't always mean trans friendly? I have met some fierce opposition from gays an lesbians, and I am too jaded to think "lgbt friendly" means much more than you want my rainbow dollar. But! This expertise is really helpful, new places I never knew about. We actually found a place called Kalani on the big island that is shouting its gender affirmation. As somewhat of an aside, when I see HRC, I don't think me friendly. They have a racist and transphobic past and present. Thanks from the bottom of my queer heart for posting this question. You're the best.

  19. I'm going to add Montreal, QC in Canada. There is a large LGBT community there (there's an entire section of the city known as the Gay Village and is promoted in tourist books for his great atmosphere). I'm cisgendered female so no experience myself, but it's also a lovely city in general. Almost everyone will speak English if they realize that is your main language, the shopping is great, tons of festivals and celebrations.

    • I tried for this one. I very much want to visit….he doesn't see the appeal. Confusing! I know I would love it, but he is a beach baby! Solo trip then.

  20. As a "passing" cis heterosexual (though actually demigirl with fluid sexuality), I can't speak as a trans individual. But as I'm sure you can bet San Francisco is one of the most accepting places I have ever been. I lived there for 2 years and there are many gorgeous aspects of San Francisco and the surrounding cities (most namely in Marin County) that aren't as touristy and traveled as say the Golden Gate bridge. Especially Marin County cities, you will find gorgeous landscapes and a little privacy from the hustling city while remaining just as open minded and friendly. I would suggest considering it as an option for sure!

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