The letter M or F* in a Dutch passport does not always reflect how people identify themselves. A change in one’s passport currently requires a statement by an expert. This statement is only issued if an interview confirms a solid intention to change this letter indicating gender.
The House of Commons are currently debating a bill to abolish the requirement for an expert statement. Trans woman Nicole Bruining says it is only right if the House votes in favour of the new law. “It would have made such a difference in my life
Nicole Bruining went through the process of passport change under the old law. This means she could not change her passport until she had started her physical transformation. In addition, she had to convince a phychologist that she is genuinely transgender.
“From an early age until I went to secondary school, I experimented with women’s clothes and a female identity. In secondary school I repressed that side of myself but of course it stayed with me”. Now she is 38, and it is seven years since she started her transformation.
“They did not make the process easy for me.”
Before she could take that step, a psychologist had to affirm Nicole’s gender. Those sessions were highly uncomfortable. “They are not doing anything to make the process easy. The psychologist is supposed to help you, but seems to be against you. He asked the weirdest questions and suggested far-fetched scenarios trying to find something that would demonstrate that I was lying. For example, he asked about my sexual preferences, which have nothing to do with gender identity”.
Yet Nicole managed to get through those six required interviews. “They kept obstructing me, until I threatened to lodge a formal complaint. The psychologist has the power. He determined whether I was allowed to be happy. And he wasn’t there to help me. I felt extremely lonely”.
“I had to be born anew.”
After Nicole had threatened legal action, her transformation could begin. This also meant she could change her passport. But there were further glitches. “On the day I came to collect my new passport, it still said M where it should have said F. I had to follow an old lady to the records room. She found my birth certificate in the records and simply changed it with her biro. I was astonished, but she seemd to find nothing unusual in the situation”.
“Then it got even more surreal. She took me back to her desk, as the necessity of a new social-fiscal registration number meant that the computer presumed I was deceased. I needed to be born anew. The other staff became aware of what was happening, so I bought cake. We celebrated my ‘birth’ together”.
Two weeks later she was holding her new passport with the right letter. “That was a truly significant moment, it marked a big step. It was also the time I had started the transition. Things fell neatly into place”.
Nicole follows the news about the new law with great interest. “It would mean a great step for the next generation.”
*A Dutch passport has Dutch M or V (Man of vrouw). Edited to M or F (male or female) for this translation
Source: Omroep Brabant
Translator and editor: Greta