Juul: “Until four years ago, I was not doing well physically and mentally. I suffered from gender dysphoria: I was not happy that I was born as a girl. In 2019 I started a transition process in which my feminine characteristics were removed. That jacket just didn’t fit me. For a long time I have tried to bend over backwards to meet the wishes of society. I worked as a secretary, complete with suit, heels and make-up, but that made me very unhappy.
“It was clear from an early age that I was between a girl and a boy. For example, I was in ballet and football. At Carnival one year I was dressed as a farmer, the next as a princess. At home they gave me a lot of freedom, but at school swimming I had to wear a bathing suit, while when we went to the seaside with the family I was allowed to wear swimming trunks. I also thought it was strange that I wasn’t allowed to lift a boy in ballet, but a boy was allowed to lift me. Being a girl felt like a box to me that I was not allowed to leave. When puberty started at the age of thirteen, it was traumatic. I didn’t want to look like a woman. I then developed an autoimmune disease that left me with chronic anemia. Shortly after my transition surgery, that turned into a latent disease. No one had ever thought that the disease could be caused by trauma.
“On the one hand, life has become easier because I am now who I wanted to be. On the other hand, there are people who do not think I am very wise about my non-binarity. Two years ago, when I applied for a passport with gender X, I was invited by the municipality of Wijchen to participate in an anti-discrimination campaign. I think that my openness has contributed to Wijchen now being a Rainbow Municipality. I am now also part of an inclusion and diversity working group that advises the municipality, solicited and unsolicited, on its Rainbow Policy.”
“At the end of 2021, I founded the Butterfly Upcycling foundation. This is a circular skills center where I repair goods or convert them into something else. These items often come from online stores. Often a part is missing or something is broken. If they have to throw it away, it costs them money. I collect it for free and sell it again after processing via a store or Marktplaats. At a low price, because it was donated and so people with a small budget can also buy it. The knife cuts both ways: the foundation combats waste and as soon as we have a permanent location, the intention is for people who are at a distance from the labor market to follow a learning program here. Now my workshop is still anti-squat.
“I also have a company since the beginning of this year, Dancing Queer. That emerged from my transition process. Because I have always danced, I developed a ‘dance healing method’ in 2020 to address my mental complaints. Dancing is a kind of protective coat for me. When I’m feeling down, I often put on headphones with dance music at home to replenish my energy. With Dancing Queer I now give lectures about that method, especially in healthcare and the cultural sector. For example, I spoke at a conference on mental health at the Ministry of Health. My lecture was entitled: From gender dysphoria to life euphoria. I also rehearse one day a week with a theater company of people with and without physical disabilities. We are now performing a performance about non-normative relationships.
“I have a Wajong benefit, but I hope to get out of that thanks to Dancing Queer. I mainly spend money on public transport. Because I was anemic, I was not allowed to get a driver’s license. Stimuli from traffic came to me with a delay. So I spend a lot of time on the train. To workshops, to the presentation of the Sustainable 100 of Fidelity, where I have already appeared twice with the Butterfly Upcycling Foundation, to lectures and concerts. I also have subscriptions to various streaming services to watch documentaries and concerts.”
“I have made a 180 degree turn in recent years. Before my transition, I hardly left my house and could work a maximum of ten hours a week. Now I travel all over the country and work about 32 hours a week. I look to the future more and more brightly, I’m looking forward to life again. Four years ago I was allowed to turn off the lights.
“I have chosen to live as a single person. I don’t feel the urge to look for my other half, I’m happy on my own. I am open to a relationship, but I am not actively looking for one.
“I dream of a circular skills center, with a space for the LGBTQI+ community to dance and exercise. These people often do not have money for a gym membership or they feel uncomfortable or unsafe there. I would also like to set up a meeting place for the rainbow community. In Wijchen, not in nearby Nijmegen. I want to give something back to the village where my life took such a turn and where I became a happy person again.”