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.
‘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.’
For as long as I can remember, I have had a fascination with other cultures. When I discovered that I was transgender, I started to wonder what transgenderness looked like in other cultures or societies where no medical intervention is possible.