Josephine Kievit (61) has been a completely different person since her transition from man to woman. Not only her appearance has changed a lot, her inside is no longer recognisable. The support of her wife José, the children and the grandchildren has dragged Josephine through her journey. On International Transgender Day of Visibility, she realizes that this is not the case for every transgender.

    Hans went through life for years as a gruff, selfish man. “I was a real alpha male. I was raised with the lesson that boys should not cry. But I was very unhappy.”

    That changed when Hans saw a British documentary about a trans woman at the age of 52. “I immediately told my wife José that I recognized myself in this. It was very hard for her to realize, but she has always supported me. We have been married for 41 years now. The name Josephine is a tribute to José.”

    A long psychological journey followed, but the transition saved the marriage of the two. Because of the hormones she takes and the liberation she feels after all these years, Josephine shows emotion again. “When a pathetic movie is on, José gives me a pillow to cry in. I’ve really become a whiner,” she laughs.

    Josephine identifies herself as transgender non-conforming: half man, half woman. “I have had three facial operations and because of the hormones I have breasts. I have not done a sex operation. So I can not be placed in a box, but that is not necessary at all.”

    José, the daughters and the grandchildren address Josephine however they want. “I will always remain Hans, José’s husband, ‘our dad’ and grandfather to my family, but they also sometimes address me as a woman. I am very open about that.”

    Josephine also notices this openness in her environment. “I had one unpleasant experience. Someren is a farmer’s hole, but I never get unpleasant reactions. Not even in my work as an ICT professional, which is a man’s world after all. People stared at me just after my transition, but after all the operations they noticed they often don’t think I’m transgender anymore. And when I explain it, nobody thinks it’s a problem.”

    However, she notices that not everyone is this lucky. “We do say that we are so tolerant in the Netherlands, but that is not so bad. Some transgenders do have sex surgery at a later age, but not facial surgery because the surgery is very severe. They get hate reactions more quickly because they have fewer external characteristics of the gender I’m very sorry about that.”

    According to Josephine, the group of transgenders who go into transition at a later age is a forgotten group. “As we hear more stories of people going through the transition later in life, it will become more and more normal and hopefully we will respect everyone.”

    At least Josephine is happier than ever. “I live the way I want to live.”

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