24 Jan

For the subject “Social and Cultural Anthropology” I keep up a journal full of thoughts, study and observations. This time I wrote a journal on genderism, which includes both thoughts about UWC as the outside world.

In 2007 the Dutch television broadcasted a documentary about a transgender girl called Valentijn. The director Hetty Nietsch followed her for nine years, when she was between the age of eight and seventeen years. In those years she changed from male to female. By now, she studies at the University of Amsterdam and as her profession she is model. The documentary shows the desire of the little boy to become female. It portrays his feelings, more than just a short-lasting phase. Fact is that transgenderism can be seen in the brain, even at a very young age.

This striking story has been grabbing my attention for a long time. In the Netherlands this documentary has brought lots of commotion. Reactions were really diverse. On one hand, people were amazed or even shocked by the phenomenon ‘transgender’ or by the desire of the little boy to be a girl. On the other hand, it provoked a feeling of sympathy for Valentijn being transgender.

The documentary showed parts in which people, who had difficulties accepting Valentijn, bullied on her. As I realise that the Netherlands is a western and quite open-minded country, the commotion and disrespect scares me. It reminds me of witch-hunting, which happened in Europe and Northern America during the Early Modern Period. It makes me wonder if such a documentary is able to exist in other countries as well. To be honest, I doubt it. In many places around the world there is a big taboo on homosexuality; let alone transgenderism.

A wonderful aspect of UWC-USA is in my opinion the truly open-minded people. During my first semester I realised that people réally accept each other and their differences. But it goes further than just acceptance. UWC’ers are curious and want to gain knowledge about others. Their curiosity makes that they react with knowledge instead of ignorance. From the idea that knowledge gives the power to react in a thoughtful way, I think knowledge can make the world a more peaceful place, including respect for transgenders.

The documentary “Valentijn”:

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