I have been working as the coordinator for the Trans*-initiative at the COC Leiden for a while now. By the way, COC stands for Cultuur- en Ontspannings Centrum: cultural and leisure center. So it has nothing to do with cock. Well, a little but not in that way.
As a lot of us know the T in GLBT has been neglected for a long time and now things are finally changing. The Trans*-initiative was started in 2011 but wasn't officially a division of the COC yet. Since last night, by vote of the members of the COC, it now is! This means the COC has now officially committed itself to promote the emancipation of transgenders in the region of Leiden. This is a great step forwards. It means we can start making long term plans and start collaborating with other, larger organizations and really get things done.
So far we have been organizing the GenderFreeZone evenings with a workshop and a party which is a great start as it is a meeting place for transgenders of all kinds to get to know each other, pick up a few skills, share their stories and see they are not alone. But this is only one evening every 3 months or so. This does not change our daily struggles when people look at us and don't know what to call us. Or call us names... So there is still a lot to be done. We have been in contact with the local university to see what we can do to help them to make things better for trans students there but this is all really fresh and it will still take some time before things will really change. The biggest challenge is to change how people think. That's something we can only do one person at a time, with patience and understanding. There needs to be more information available about what it means to be transgender. Not about the surgeries and the waitinglists. People don't care and it doesn't help them understand how we feel. It's all too technical. So we need to find a way to help people understand what it feels like to be different and to be judged for being different, while we don't even want to be different. We just want to be ourselves and to be loved for who we are.
If you have any ideas how we can make that happen, if you are experiencing problems because you are trans or if you know of people around you who are facing obstacles because of their gender issues, please let me know so maybe we can do something about this. We have an open meeting with the trans team this Tuesday (4th of December) at the COC Leiden at 8pm. Everyone of good will is welcome. For more information you can contact me at . Thank you very much.