Trans artist Sophie Labelle focuses her comics primarily on the queer and trans community and less on educating society. I have been following her on social media for years and was allowed to interview her during her European tour.
‘When you think of your gender, your culture, and your religion, where do you draw the line between ’knowing’ your identity and constructing it?
I often struggle with the thought that my Jewishness and gender non-conformity cannot exist all at once.’
The concept of gender dysphoria influences the image of trans persons. The opposite of dysphoria is euphoria. This concept remains marginalised in public debate about trans people. It’s not even in the Dutch Van Dale dictionary.
The Netherlands’ pioneer status, which it attained by opening the first transgender clinic in the world in 1975, is now in decline. However, our country is still considered to be trans friendly. In other parts of Europe, transgender people are subjected to restrictions that are inhumane and encourage transphobia.
The older generation grew up at a time when little or nothing was known about the subject of ‘being transgender’, so you couldn’t talk about it. Author Eveline van de Putte wrote down the stories of many of them in the book Nieuwe Namen.
The further I progress through the exhibition, the more I discover about the meaning of gender and it’s different cultural expressions: Samoan fa’afafines, Albanian burneshas, Zapotec muxes, Native American two-spirit people and Southeast Asian hijras are all covered.