Visibility

Pride. Pink Saturday.

A few days a year, the LGBTQ community are the majority. Everybody can see we exist. The media will take care of that.

But aside from Pride, we better not stand out. And if we do, for example, if you are visibly trans, then you are often scolded, belittled, or even mistreated.

Micha Meinderts by PhotoJasmine
Micha

In that respect, I am happy that I can fit in. Unless I walk around naked, nobody would think that in the past my body did not fit in with my identity.

For years I enjoyed that privilege to the fullest. I didn’t tell anyone, not even close friends. Why would I? I was finally seen as the man I had always been; if I was visibly trans, people would probably treat me differently again.

That’s how I lived my life. Sometimes afraid that it would come out or nervous that my body would betray me, but generally I was relaxed.

The more often I spoke with other transgender people, the more I started to realise that it was not that easy for everyone. And when I spoke ‘incognito’ to (cis)people, I noticed how little they knew about transgender people. This is not strange since most people only know us through the media and the media shows a limited image of transgender people.

At a certain point, this all started to annoy me very much and I wanted to make a dissenting voice heard.

I wrote the book Aldus Sybren (According to Sybren), an autobiographical novel based on my life after my transition. On one hand, I wanted to nuance the image held by the general public of ‘the transgender person’. On the other hand, I hoped that I could offer trans people recognition and hope.

But it meant I had to give up my invisibility, which was even more difficult than writing a book. I had no idea how the people whom I had never told would react and I was afraid of hate messages on social media… In short: I didn’t know how my life would change, just as I didn’t know that before I went into transition.

The realisation that by becoming visible, I could help more people than if I would stay in stealth (living in full accordance to my gender identity and not being visible as a transgender person.) finally convinced me. And when readers let me know that, it was such a relief to see their feelings expressed, or that they understood their loved one or family member better. I knew the risk was worth it.

Thanks to my book, I was able to get my message across in the media, that we are all people, we have the same desires and goals as cisgender people, and we are all unique.

I continue to work for a better, more nuanced image of transgender people in the media, but I could never have started that without becoming visible myself.