Generation Trans Joy
Illustration by Lucas Braak
The current generation of trans people grows up with the phenomenon of trans joy, but this might have been very different for the generations before us. How do older trans people experience trans joy? This is what I talked about with Corine van Dun (69), trans activist. Corine used to be a board member and later chair of Transgender Netwerk Nederland and recently she became the new chair of Transvisie.
Hey Corine! Are you familiar with the term ‘trans joy’?
‘Actually no, I’m looking it up now’.
Trans joy is the euphoria and joy someone experiences about their gender identity. If I explain it like this, do you think you’d say you experience trans joy?
‘Yes, currently I do. Since I transitioned though, because the period before that was not very pleasant. Ever since I’ve transitioned, my life has become a lot more peaceful and I have become a much happier person. Of course I was happy before that: I’ve had a lot of great experiences, like the birth of my children. But being proud of my transness, that’s not something I experience. To me, it’s not something to be proud of, I would have rather not been trans. The first twenty years after my transition, I lived stealthy (not being open about the trans identity), mostly to protect my children. Because I was able to focus on my children this way, this was also a very joyous period.
Do you feel like the new generation has a different view on transness?
‘A little bit, yes. Back in my days there was absolutely nothing, everything still had to be enforced, legislation changed. Now that’s all there already, that’s of course different.’
As if we take it a bit for granted?
‘Yes, but I think that that’s beautiful, because it is. You’re allowed to just enjoy being trans now. And of course I’m a little jealous of your generation, but I also enjoy being surrounded by you so much, you really deserve it. I notice that I sometimes fall back into an old habit when I see a trans person publicly come out. Like with Nikkie de Jager. I immediately start thinking: what can I do to help her. And to then see that she’s doing amazingly, that brings me so much joy. But I also still want to protect you all a bit.’
You’re kind of like our mother?
‘Yes, it’s a bit like that maternal feeling: as long as the little ones are doing okay. In that way, it’s a bit like you’re all my children.’
‘Something that doesn’t bring me trans joy, by the way, is how complicated things still are for trans refugees and trans people with a migration background. Something still really has to change in that respect.’
Is there something you’d like to tell young trans people?
‘Keep doing what you’re doing. I enjoy the peace that has come about, but you really turn it into a party. Keep doing that, celebrate that you started the battle for your own happiness. But also enjoy the rest of your life a bit, like studying and working. And keep openly enjoying it. You doing that brings me so much happiness.’
What have you learned from young trans people?
‘Being so free and enjoying it so much, that is the best thing I see your generation do. I’m from a time where there was nothing, nothing was organized, and now there is so much. Even though I don’t participate anymore, because of my age, it still brings me a lot of joy to see you party. In that way you help me, I might be almost seventy, but I remain active.’
Do you have some last motherly advice?
‘Even when nothing is going as it should, please keep going. Living a good, peaceful, and happy life is possible. And do your damndest best to get a degree, because that opens so many doors.’