Column by Ana Paula Lima
On the 17th of March the election for the Dutch House of Representatives will take place. This is an important chance for us, trans people, to stand up for ourselves.
Unfortunately I hear from many of my transgender friends that they have no faith in the current politicians and that they most likely won’t vote this year. They are disappointed by the growing waiting lists for transgender care, the opposite of what the politicians promised us; by the lack of political consequence for the much signed Nashville statement; put out by the resistance to submitted motions regarding the civil rights of transgender people, exerted by the far-right, christian fundamentalistic and right-conservative governing (and in the polls still the biggest) parties.
The lack of representation of transgender people in political parties and the government plays a big role I think in this distrust among my trans friends. Most of them are, just like me, bicultural (being connected to one or more other cultures beside your Dutch identity) and don’t see themselves represented by politicians in that regard either. That the House of Representatives isn’t exactly an accurate reflection of the diversity within our society, is proof of long-term social exclusion.
I myself noticed that when you, as a bicultural transgender person, stand for election, you will be met with a lot of headwind. During the Amsterdam municipality elections of 2018 I was listed as a candidate for Bij1. My visibility during the campaign elicited racist, transphobic and sexist responses, from hate mails all the way to threats in public. I viewed that as behaviour from people who are scared that the political stronghold for and by white heteronormative cisgender people is under attack, and concluded that we still have a long road ahead of us.
Luckily, world wide transgender people are elected more and more often. At the beginning of this year for example the election of Sarah McBride was all over the news, the first transgender senator in the USA. Although less well-known in the Netherlands, but still remarkable, is the election of Erica Malunguinho in 2018 as the first black trans senator in the history of Brazil (don’t forget, the country has the highest murder count of transgender people). In Belgian there is Petra de Sutter, vice prime-minister since 2020.
The Netherlands needs to catch up and we can make a start with the coming elections! For the first time several transgender people are standing for elections. For example Petra Kramer (#10 for Bij1), Lisa van Ginneken (#22 for D66), Emma Laurijssens van Engelshoven (#65 for D66) en Corine van Dun (#71 for D66). They could be the very first transgender Dutch House of Representative members.
Despite the headwinds, organisations such as TNN, Transvisie, COC and NNID are the ones that have been able to make progress together with politicians. For example, the current transgender law is possible going to revisioned, which means that you would no longer need an expert statement to be able to change your sex on your birth certificate. This year a change in the constitution will most likely come into force as well, with which discriminations based on sex characteristics, gender identity and gender expression will be a punishable offence. Goals have been reached in healthcare as well: protocols for transgender care have been loosened and transgender care is mostly covered by the basic insurance.
In opposition to this are the fact that registrations for transgender care are growing faster than the growth of the care that is offered, with as a result that the waiting lists increase in size as well; that the number of reported incidents of discrimination of trasngender people has been growing for years, while the continuation and position of Roze in Blauw (Pink in Blue) is not being ensured; that transgender refugees need to be protected against rape and other forms of violence and intimidation within refugee centres and that the extra measurements the COA has taken have been insufficient to prevent the violent death of twentyfour-year-old trans woman Xingshun Zhou recently. The progress that has been made therefore has not been enough!
This is why I want to tell all trans people and my bicultural trans friend this especially: we have an incredibly powerful instrument in our hands: our voice! Use this coming March 17th, if you want that the changes put into motion by our society, persist. Vote for a party and a candidate that actually represent our needs.
Are you unsure of which party to vote for? Rewatch the Rainbow Election Debate (dutch spoken) the COC organised on February 5th, to gain more information about these important issues for us. It will probably surprise you to see that the participating parties are all in favour of advocacy of LGBTIQ+ rights and that the politicians, without exceptions, all respond in a concerned way to the personal stories by trans people about their experiences that were brought up. But, please note: although the transition leave for example might seem within reach, the promises related to more safety (police manpower) and the transgender care waitlists are nine years old.
Consult the Rainbowvote and the Kieswijzer (you can also look at the Politieke Sekswijzer and Stem Gendergelijkheid) and support the transgender person that is standing for election within your preference.
Our future is dependent on ourselves as well!
Ana Paula Lima (she/her – Transfeminist, anti-facist, Brasilian Dutchee, Latina, Pride ambassador, frontfighter of a world without transphobia. “As editor for TRANS magazine I want to show people the world through the eyes of a bicultural trans woman.”.