Jan-Peter de Lugt, as chair of the interest group Pride and Sports, focuses on sports for the gay group. Pride and Sports appealed to transgender athletes to share their stories last summer. He says the stories frankly scared him.
“We received stories of trans people who were spat on in their gym because they were” not normal “and cursed at them. It was shocking.”
Small gesture, big impact
According to Pride and Sports, initiatives like De Vries can help the group feel safe. For example, athletes on one of the Vondelgym sites can decide for themselves which dressing room to change in, regardless of gender. De Vries himself speaks of “a small gesture but a big impact”.
A few years ago, the debate about gender-neutral toilets erupted in the Netherlands. Critics considered these toilets unnecessary. Not the same discussion has taken place about non-segregated locker rooms, says NL Actief, the trade association for gyms. According to the advocate, this could change if the demand from consumers increases.
De Lugt would like to see more sports clubs devoting their attention to gays and translators in particular. He not only thinks about changing places, but also, for example, rules of conduct in the gym and parade, such as self-defense lessons. An initiative like De Vries could open the door to more interest in the group. De Lugt: “What this does anyway is it increases the visibility of trans people. The more visible it is, the more socially acceptable it is.”
In any case, De Vries is positive about the first session, even though the group was small due to the coronavirus. “At the end of the day, I saw a big smile on the faces of the participants. That was my goal.”