Basketball is a very dynamic ball game and that attracted me when I started at the age of 8. I also love team sports and above all, there’s a good atmosphere at my club during training.
I came out of the closet when I was 19 years old. I told my coach that I had something to say, so he arranged a room after training and asked everyone to come. I told them that I didn’t feel like a girl but like a boy and that this feeling was so strong, that I was on the waiting list for gender changing treatments at the hospital. So in that club I was fully out as a transgender. It is impossible to go through transition without telling people who know you well. It was also necessary for people to start changing the use of my name and pronouns.
People I’ve met after my transition are aware sometimes but not always. I tell them when it’s relevant, when it just appears in a conversation or when it bothers me. The latter for example happens when I answer why I occupy with the wellbeing of transgender kids. In some environments though, I don’t feel it adds something so I don’t always feel the need to out myself. I also fear that people will see me differently or will search for my “female characteristics”. I just want to be seen as a boy, not as “a boy who once was a girl.” That really annoys me.
That I like men, is a fact that about half of my friends and acquaintances are aware of, and only a few in my basketball team. Some people asked about my sexuality during my coming out in the beginning of my transition. But many don’t know this, mainly because I don’t think it’s relevant for others and because I sometimes still doubt my sexuality.
If you love to sport and being transgender is standing in your way, do it anyway. It’s scary, but it’s all worth it if it works out! If you don’t try, then you have already lost in advance.
At this time, I play in a new team in a new club. I’m also out as transgender to the biggest part of my own team and to some of another team with whom I hang out a lot. I told them after a month while having a beer after training when I was 21 years old. I wanted them to know, because I didn’t want to lie about the surgery I was having that season and why I couldn’t play for a while. Also because I felt uncomfortable while showering. For the board it was necessary, because my debt free declaration of my old club was still on my old – then official – name.
The girls of my old club kind of expected it. Back then, my current name was already often jokingly said – but not in a bad way. They didn’t even know it then. This made it pretty easy to call me by my new name and use “he” instead of “she”. At my new club, on the contrary, after a huge part of my transition, they were astonished. They really had no clue. Yet, it did explain why I showered in my underwear. That is of course very notable, but not showering would stand out too. Moreover, I like it to have a refreshing shower after sporting when we go and have a drink afterwards. I would find it more confronting and annoying if I couldn’t shower along than with my underwear. It’s also a social happening in which I want to take part of. This is the best solution for me.
After my coming out, my team said they’d back me up if anyone would ever give me a hard time. So I never really experienced negative reactions when it comes to being transgender. I sometimes get remarks of showering with my underwear by people who don’t know. Like “Are you going to the swimming pool?” or “Hey, you forgot your underwear”. They don’t mean it in a bad way, but still I don’t like it. I just laugh it off, though.
Since my coming out in my team, there are players who joined and who left, which is why not everyone knows. I just like it to be one of the guys and I‘m scared to lose that. I don’t think it’s necessary that everyone knows. The fact that I like men (and I think also women) makes me scared to hear their reactions. We don’t talk about it, not negatively, nor in a positive way. I know no one who’s openly gay at my club, while there surely are. Outside my club, I’ve always looked up to trans athlete Balian Buschbaum (leaping pole), a very handsome man who also deals with it in a very fun way. Within my club I don’t know anyone else and I have no idea whether they are tolerant for gays. I think so because of the laid-back atmosphere. It does scare me that showering might become uneasy and that my team mates will be scared that I look at them in a sexual way. That’s not the case of course, but I do fear they’ll think that way. I don’t want to take that risk, definitely because I‘m not sure yet if I also like women.
That my club is tolerant for transgenders, is obvious. When I signed at my new club, I immediately told a member of the board that I was born as a girl and that my declaration still was on my old name, like my passport, but that I wanted to play with the men. A technical board member then contacted the league to ask what the regulations were and if they could provide me a new pass with “Daan” and “man” on it. It appeared to be no problem at all. Moreover, if I have worries or need help from my club, they told me that I can always knock at their door.
I fear that people will see me differently or will search for my “female characteristics”. I just want to be seen as a boy, not as “a boy who once was a girl.” That really annoys me.
In my team there are sometimes jokes about transgenders, made by new players who don’t know. I can’t really figure out how they really think about it. Are they serious or is it just an act of being tough? I don’t laugh along, but I also find it hard to react.
What I also found hard earlier, is the fact that I looked like a boy, but played with the girls. With out games, it sometimes happened I got sent away from the dressing room. It felt very annoying and like self-betrayal to tell them that I did belong there. If I didn’t react, you saw people looking strangely when I was suddenly on the field between the girls. Also opponents could be a pain in the ass, for instance about my unshaved legs. Fortunately, I was pretty good at letting go, because I was very happy with my hairy legs even before I started with my testosterone. Finally I quit with the girls team because of an injury, but that was at the same time of my hormone treatment.
After a while on testosteron, I loved to go play with the men, to get muscles for instance. So after a year, I really wanted to play again. I didn’t really have troubles at my old club, but wanted a fresh start and looked out for another club. That’s been one of my best decisions so far. I feel very good and free within my current club, the boys accept me. I really have the feeling to be a part of the team. If I ever had the chance to give my younger self a message, it would be: “You can do this, soon you’ll play with the boys if you want to”.
To other transathletes I would say: If you love to sport and being transgender is standing in your way, do it anyway. It’s scary, but it’s all worth it if it works out! If you don’t try, then you have already lost in advance.