9. Christie Elan-Cane
Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane has spent almost 30 years working to achieve legal recognition as a person of non-gendered identity, most recently through per focus on ‘X’ passports. Non-binary, non-gendered, transgender and intersex people have long been subjected to scrutiny, harassment and even violence when they travel, and the adoption of legal documentation that reflects their true identity is an essential step in creating space for people who don’t tick the binary ‘male’ or ‘female’ boxes. ‘I campaign on a principle of legitimate identity as a fundamental human right,’ Elan-Cane says. ‘We are effectively non-citizens in a gendered society where each person’s entire being is centred upon whether they are male or female. I aim to legitimise my own non-gendered identity through the creation of a third, neutral space within society for identities other than male and female.’ Sadly, Christie has come up against resistance from the UK government – but that’s not stopping per. At the time of writing, Elan-Cane is preparing to take the precedent-setting case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
10. Rani Cheema
‘I faced a lot of challenges in the travel industry, due to ageism and racism,’ says Rani Cheema, who noticed that as a Punjabi-Puerto Rican woman consulting for luxury travel clients, she was quite simply not represented in the very sector in which she worked. ‘There’s a stigma attached to the word luxury that scares a lot of people, especially BIPOC folx. Women – especially women of colour and those from immigrant families – are marginalised and told we can’t do certain things. But the earth is ours, and we have every right to see every single corner of it.’ Now, she shows up for her communities through her boutique tour operator Cheema’s Travels, which organises bespoke food-focused trips from Malaga to Mexico where small groups of guests are invited to connect with each country’s culture through its cuisine. ‘For me, part of the luxury aspect is carefully vetting participants to create a safe space for everyone, as the trips are so intimate’ Cheema says. By carving out a niche and inviting people from marginalised communities to co-host her trips, Cheema has successfully created an inclusive space ‘where all folx are welcome’, a space in which the boundaries are constantly evolving and uplifting those within it. As an independent business, she also can be reactive and tailor trips to meet her community’s demands: this year, for example, she’ll be hosting more queer- and vegetarian-focused experiences.
On her list of inspiring womxn in travel: ‘The founders of Unearth Women, Elise Fitzsimmons and Nikki Vargas, who just released a travel guide for solo female travellers called Wandress; Zoe Shapiro, the founder of Stellavision; Curious Appetite gourmet food blogger Coral Sisk, and my friends over at El Camino Travel.’