What is transgender?
The word “transgender” is used in two ways:
- as an umbrella term, for a wide range of gender identities and gender expressions. It is used for anyone (children, adolescents and adults) who does not identify, or identifies to a lesser extent, with the sex assigned at birth;
- in a narrower sense, for people who are pursuing or have undergone a full or partial transition to the opposite sex.
Transgender children have questions about their gender identity. As a boy or girl, they do not feel that they are a boy or a girl. The mismatch between perceived gender identity and biological sex is also referred to as gender incongruity or gender dysphoria.
Gender incongruity or a difference between a child’s gender identity and biological sex is not about sexual preference. It is about a long-term and deeply felt mismatch with the birth gender. As with people whose gender identity corresponds to their biological sex, sexual preference can vary according to all appearances, such as heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual).
How do you find out that you might be transgender or non-binary?
How do you know for yourself whether you are transgender or non-binary? The answer to that is not always easy. Often it is a quest. You have the feeling that something is not right. You don’t know what’s wrong, but sometimes you do. To get it clear for yourself, several factors play a role, such as age, environment where you grow up, information you have, but also the degree of gender incongruity (the feeling that inner and outer appearance are not correct). Gender incongruity can be variable. For some people it is already clear at a very young age (infant, primary school or puberty) that their gender identity does not match their biological sex. For others, this does not manifest itself until later in life (as an adult, middle age, or even later). For older people, the zeitgeist can be one of the determining factors for coming out. Social circumstances, family, work, religion can be an inhibiting factor to come out. You may have struggled with it for a long time, or it may be crystal clear: I am a woman/man/non-binary, that’s how I’m going to live and no one will stop me.
WhatsApp line for transgender migrants.
Trans in NL advice line: new WhatsApp line for transgender migrants
There is a new WhatsApp line for transgender people who have not been in the Netherlands for that long. Here everyone can enquire easily with questions about health care, discrimination, regulatory matters and meeting.
Whether you are a refugee, expat, labor migrant, status holder or international student: it is not always clear how you can find your way as a trans person in the Netherlands. How does the healthcare system work? Where can you go if you have been discriminated against? How do you change your gender registration? And where do you find like-minded people?
From April 20, you can contact the Trans in NL advice line of the Transgender Network with these and other questions. You send an app to 020-2446558 and on working days you will receive an answer within 24 hours. You can ask your questions in Dutch, English, Spanish or French.
Initiators of the Trans in NL advice line are Samira Hakim and Alejandra Ortiz. “We regularly visited asylum seekers’ centers where we spoke with trans people,” says Hakim. Sometimes this was at the invitation of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers, sometimes on their own initiative. “We noticed that trans asylum seekers do not always know what their rights are, even though they encounter many problems. For example, because they do not receive the care they need.”
This is how the idea arose to open an information line specifically for trans people who have not been in the Netherlands that long. In addition to asylum seekers, the line also wants to help expats, migrant workers and international students on their way. “They too often don’t know how healthcare works in the Netherlands or where you can find legal help. In addition, people are sometimes isolated and simply need contact with other trans people. We also give tips on that.”
Hakim and Ortiz think it is important that they speak to trans people as experts by experience. “It helps if you know someone has had similar experiences.”
Transgender Network is an interest group for gender diverse people in the Netherlands. In addition to a general information line, Transgender Network also manages a telephone and chat line especially for young people, Genderpraatjes. “We are always easily found by Dutch-speaking people, and since we have Gender Talks also by young people,” says Hakim. “But if you don’t speak Dutch and have no idea where to start, it helps that there is a multilingual WhatsApp line where you can easily go with your question.”
You are not alone.
Some people want help with their search. You can then go to a specialized GGZ institution. Others want a diagnosis and possibly treatment. They can contact a specialized gender team or one of the specialized psychologists. See our page therapists for adults or therapists for children and young people. It can be nice to find out together with a therapist what you want with your feelings and whether, and how far, you might want to consider a transition (see the topic transition). Transvisie can help you find addresses for individual support and guidance in your region. Call or email us, see contact details.
Health care in the Netherlands for transgenders
- You need a referral from your GP/doctor to go to a specialist transgender care practitioner.
- The transgender health care is provide in the Amsterdam UMC (VUmc), UMC in Groningen and a few other practitioners. See our webpage ‘behandelaars‘.
- The Amsterdam UMC and the UMCG offer psychology, hormone treatment and surgery. Both hospitals have long waiting lists. Not only for the first psychological session, but also before hormone treatment and before surgery.
- Hormone treatment for MtF is based on estradiol (oestrogen) and a testosterone-suppressant.
- Hormone treatment for FtM is based on testosterone, injectable or gel.
- If you have a Dutch health insurance, treatment is nearly fully covered. There are some limitations though. For instance not all sorts of testosteron are covered by the ‘Basisverzekering’. There are more limitations, so ask for information about this at te hospital. The ‘Basisverzekering’ covers psychological help, hormone treatment (the hormones itself as well as the monitoring by the doctor) and the SRS (surgery) (see also our page (in Dutch) ‘Zorgverzekering-vergoedingen‘.
- For MtF the health insurance also covers facial hair removal (limited) and facial surgery (under strict conditions). Breast enhancement is not covered.
- For FtM the health insurance also covers mastectomy, hysterectomy and colpectomy.
- You need approval from the genderteam from the hospital and their psychologist before any surgary is being performed.
- If you have been diagnosed as ‘genderdysphore’ in your country of origin, the possibility exists that the hospital adopt this diagnosis.
- If possible, bring as much possible information from psychologists, doctors etc. in English from your country of origin.
- If possible, take sufficient hormone medication or a prescription with you to cater for at least 1 1/2 year.
Activities by other organisations for (transgender) asylum seekers and refugees
- The COC has buddy projects for (transgender) asylum seekers and refugees. See for information.
- I-psy has started a LGBTI-team in Amsterdam for LGBTI-migrants, expats and refugees with a psychic complaints. See for information their website.
- Stichting Trans United Nederland organizes a peer group in Amsterdam special for transgenders with another cultural background.
- Asylun Support for information and buddy’s.
- Rijksoverheid: Page at Play Store to an App with information for refugees about their rights in The Netherlands (several languages).