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.
At age 22 Brasilian Aleisha started transitioning. A year later she was working in prostitution in Rio de Janeiro, not able to find another job. When she left Brasil to start a new life in Europe, sexwork again seemed the only option.
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.
I feel more and more at home in my changing body, but still fall over a number of social stumbling blocks, such as going out. ‘Will I pass as a man?’, ‘Am I flat enough in this binder?’ and ‘What if I meet people from my previous life?’.
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.