Around my seventeenth birthday, I came out as a trans man. I had been questioning my identity for a long time. My body did not feel like my body, and I loved ‘boyish stuff’. There was no room for this in the family I grew up in. For example, I wanted to cut my hair short when I was fifteen, but my parents would not let me.
My GP helped me on my journey of self-discovery. With her, I found a safe space where I could share everything. I still see her, not because of physical complaints, but to share my story. In my childhood, I moved sixteen times. First from the foster family where I grew up to a youth care institution, then into new institutions each time. Fortunately, my GP has been the same for years.
Together we contacted the gender team of VUmc in Amsterdam, and I was put on the waiting list to go into transition. I have been on the waiting list for almost four years now. The problem is that there are not enough psychologists for the diagnosis: the question whether I am actually trans. That is frustrating because until that happens, I am unable to start using testosterone, and I have to live in a female body. Those waiting lists are everywhere in healthcare. If you are on it, you have to fend for yourself until it’s your turn.
There is still a lot to achieve in youth care when it comes to dealing with LGBTI youth. When I told them I was a boy, I was still placed in a group home for girls. I found that very difficult. We were all addressed and treated as girls, while I am a boy. After several conversations about it, I was finally able to go to a mixed group. There I saw a name tag by my mailbox that said ‘Mr..’. That made me feel good.
As a young person, you will be assigned a mentor in every youth care institution with whom you will have conversations. About sexuality, for example. But the topic is almost always heterosexual relationships. It would be nice if these conversations were also about gender diversity and homosexuality. So that you can learn: this exists, and this is allowed. That would have helped me a lot.
In the sixteen places I have lived, I met many supervisors who really listened and wanted to improve care. Unfortunately, there are a lot of staff changes and shortages in youth care. As a result, they cannot implement real improvements. The ever-changing and often young management is struggling with the daily operations of the organisation. It is difficult for them, but for the young people in the group too. Do you want to improve care? Then there must be enough permanent staff who are paid properly.
Kai is 20 years old and an influencer