Tim is one of those old clients I often think of. Several times this week. His suspicion: identity theft – he would have used a fake passport. Foei: that results in a hefty prison sentence! In the Utrecht police cell I met a young American man. After four months in the country, his savings ran out. Time to earn his own living, then. As a sought-after ICT specialist, he found a job within two weeks. He only had to request a Dutch citizen service number from the municipality. And that’s where his problems started.
Tim is a transgender man. For four years he went through life completely as himself. His dead name and gender were only a bad memory in his US passport. In the United States it was very expensive and time-consuming to change that data. He just didn’t have the time or money. His passport was marked with a fat (v). He had presented himself as a man several times at his new work. What must the secretary think when filling in his salary details. With the buttocks exposed? No option. Tim was too ashamed and afraid of losing his job. And what about the gossip in the workplace? He just wanted a fresh start and just be himself.
As his first day at work drew closer, Tim panicked. An acquaintance arranged a fake passport through some shady website. This piece of string forgery was immediately discovered at the municipal office. The possible consequences were severe: a prison sentence and a corresponding criminal record.
Yesterday Josh Cavallo came out as one of the first active professional football players at the highest level. The Australian said he could no longer lead a double life. No longer wanted to lie. In the anything but inclusive football world, that’s quite a brave move. Because he did receive a lot of support, experience shows that being yourself is often problematic to say the least. Homophobic chants are not uncommon in football stadiums. It’s not much better at certain talk show tables. The gym of the founder of the Roze Comrades – the pink supporters association of Feyenoord – was recently set on fire and decorated with hate slogans. Not really an incentive prize to come out as a professional football player in the Netherlands. Too bad, but understandable that this hasn’t happened yet.
Just be yourself: not even with the CDA. The political party wanted to personally attack outgoing Prime Minister Rutte during the previous elections. Not just through the countless political scandals that adorn his report, no. Rutte also had to be caught on his sexuality. They wanted to dethrone Rutte as Prime Minister with a hard underground campaign. At the CDA – that party of norms and values – sexual preference is apparently something to be ashamed of. As far as I’m concerned, the Christian Democrats are morally bankrupt and keep falling in the polls – and rightly so.
Volkskrant columnist Daniela Hooghiemstra also recently went off the rails. In short, she states in a column that the LGBTI movement regards gender and orientation as an individual choice and is working on that choice worldwide. As an example, the historian states that Nikkie Tutorials has chosen a new identity and has made it her day job. Either Hooghiemstra has no internet, or she is trying to get some clicks over the back of the LGBTI community. Nikkie is a world famous makeup artist, YouTuber and successful presenter. And she did that for years without the world knowing she was transgender. It was only after she was heavily blackmailed with that information that she decided to make it public herself. Nikkie does not make a day job of a chosen ‘new identity’: she has to fight hard to be her only authentic self.
That Josh Cavallo has come out and received so many positive reactions is promising. At the same time, I am disheartened by people who still see sexuality and gender as a choice. Like a traffic light where you can turn left or right, and that choice has no consequences for you at all. If it were really that easy, many people would do it in a sigh and a sigh. The reality is that a lot of people struggle with their sexuality and gender in a world that is not merciful at all. Some would even commit a criminal offense just to participate in society in a normal way. Others become depressed or see no way out at all. If you can’t be yourself, you’re constantly cheating. Against the outside world, but above all: against yourself – and that is unbearable.