Lucas transitioned as a child: ‘I was ashamed to death in the hockey locker room’

Sixth grade of elementary school. Lucas was short-haired and dressed in his brother’s clothes. He says he was “too boyish”, played a lot outside and played soccer every day, but his sister was also very boyish, so his parents didn’t think it was weird.

No hockey skirt

He started his first sport, hockey, in Amersfoort early on. He started in the Benjamins, of all the girls in hockey skirts and tails fluttering around. Lucas loved sports, and thought it was a “cool outlet”, but wearing a hockey skirt spoiled the fun. So when the opportunity arose to become a goalkeeper, he did. “I had a knack for it. People told me, ‘You have to choose.'”

He didn’t see at that moment what others might actually see. When he thinks about it now, Lucas felt insecure as a child and weak. An annoying comment or rejection always makes a big difference. “I didn’t really feel happy, but it was never clear what it was.”

His boyish appearance meant that he would occasionally go out social, at hockey and at school. Once, when his mother took him outside to choose clothes for a wedding, he said to himself “Really try to be a girl now.” Meanwhile, he had already changed his tuft into long hair. “When I think about that outfit in the store… it was so ugly. That dress, those shoes. I hated every single item,” he said with a disapproving look.

“Aren’t you just a boy?”

He says in his apartment in Utrecht that he could not be a girl. He takes a sip of his coffee and smiles slightly. “I felt really uncomfortable in girl’s clothes, I felt like I was getting dressed. I cut my hair anyway. The idea of ​​getting breast implants or having my period was just as bad. That was really my biggest nightmare.”

But what was he going to do with these feelings?

He didn’t know, even a simple comment during the eighth grade school camp. A boy suddenly said without embarrassment: Aren’t you just a boy? Locke was shocked. when? me? Boy? He took a moment to himself. “Yes, that is what it is,” he thought. “But at the same time, I also felt very confused. I didn’t see it as an option, and very little was known about transgender people at the time.”

He ran straight into his mother’s arms when he came home. “I think I really want to be a boy,” he said, then 11 years old.

His mother was understanding and often asked questions. “Why do you want to be a boy? How did you come to that?” There was already an appointment with a child psychologist at that time. It was immediately included in the intake.

Gender policy on the waiting list

The youngest Lucas was raised of four children, with a brother and two sisters. His parents, who separated when he was in elementary school, have always encouraged their children to pursue different hobbies. In addition to hockey, Lucas has also tried gymnastics, judo, soccer, and basketball over the years. School was easy for him, too. “I did really well, without putting much effort into it.”

When Lucas starts talking about that first conversation with the psychiatrist, he laughs. “They took with me a questionnaire with questions like: Do you like football or ballet more? He thought the questions were too stereotypical and transparent.” Better questions later emerged, like, if you had to put yourself on a scale from 100% male to 100% Female, where do you put yourself? Or, how about being a boy is something you want?”

He was put on a waiting list for the outpatient sex clinic at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

The waiting time was eight to twelve months. “Fortunately, it was my turn eight months later. I was very happy about that. But at the same time I was also very nervous about the upcoming puberty. Because the more feminine your body is, the more difficult it is to do something there later. Then your body develops in a way that you don’t want to. Then Everything becomes undesirable.”

The word of salvation

Lucas began the operation in the gender outpatient clinic. Over the course of six months, he, his parents, and a psychologist were interviewed to determine his diagnosis. Was: gender dysphonia. “It means you don’t recognize the gender you were born into. They are also called transgender.”

Luke calls it the “Word of Redemption.” Because it means he can start taking puberty inhibitors. “I’ve been given some space to breathe. They’ve shut down puberty, so my breasts have stopped growing and I won’t get my period either.”

He was also allowed to change his name. He wouldn’t say what his old name was. “This is very personal to me. It is part of my life, but this name also symbolizes someone I am not.”

He was happy to start his transition, but also sad. For example, on his hockey team, he felt uncomfortable among all the girls. But he didn’t want to be told he was on his way to relocating and then to the boys’ team. “So I gave up,” he says. “I didn’t like it at all in the social sphere. I didn’t feel like there would be much understanding of my situation. How is it done in the dressing room? And with the shower, for example?”

Because of his gender dysphoria, Lucas (this may vary from person to person, he asserts) was very ashamed of his body. “I had very little breast growth, for example, and would straighten it out with the help of folders, which are kind of tight jackets. I didn’t want other people to see I was wearing that.”

The transition was hard to match with his love for the sport. He wanted nothing more than to exercise, but he always felt like an exception. “At school, for example, I was in a sports class and sometimes we had clinics in other locations. Sometimes I was looking forward to the clinic a couple of weeks ago because I didn’t know where to change. I thought this was terrible.”

“I wanted to hide myself”

Another example: After retiring from hockey, Lucas went to play football. All the players on the team reacted well to learning that he was a transgender person. “The coach told her in a very sympathetic way, and that really makes all the difference.” The only problem: showering is mandatory in football. “I showered in my club in the referee’s changing room, but I didn’t arrange that for the outside matches. Then everyone in the team showered and I was dirty in that car. That’s not nice.”

Lucas is silent for a moment, visibly fighting back tears. “I just wanted to hide myself the whole time. I just almost cry when I talk about it. I hate being so busy with it. It took over my life.”

Lucas doesn’t want to be an outsider. He just wanted to get into the locker room with all the other students and leave together. He didn’t want to go to the gym teacher first, explain his situation, allocate the locker room, and be the last to walk the bus home. “You don’t want to be an outsider, but you do.”

Sports club guidance

He seems smart because of his straightforward way of speaking. Every now and then he stops talking for a moment, then continues in the same narrow tone. Lucas was one of the first to point out, among other things, to the NOC*NCF that few sports clubs know how to deal with people who are sexually and sexually diverse. “I know how important this is for people going through a period of transition at their club. I hope they feel better understood.”

He contacted organizations concerned with inclusion and diversity in sport and went to a NOC*NCF meeting about it, but nothing happened. Until he was suddenly called up a year and a half later with a question if he could provide feedback on the “Guidelines for Gender and Sexually Diverse Persons”. This guideline for sports clubs provides tools to better engage with, for example, transgender or non-binary people in sports. “I was so excited,” he says.

For example, it contains practical advice on address forms, changing and showering and preventing exclusion. For example, a coach’s use of wrong forms of addresses can be structurally prevented.

Lucas gained more and more self-confidence and calmness during his transition. Puberty inhibitors gave him space, and the hormones he’d been using since the age of 16 caused his body to change. His voice grew heavier, his fat distribution changed, and he let out a beard. His body became more and more suitable for who he was.

no choice

However, he is also tiring sometimes. I wake up. He maintains that it is not a choice. “It’s a choice between going through a transition, living an unhappy life, or not living at all.” If Lucas didn’t feel deep down that he didn’t feel at home in his own body, he never would. “Because that also plays a role,” he says.

“It’s really not an easy option. The option of a medical operation is not attractive, waiting times are now very long and psychological counseling is almost non-existent.”

He doesn’t know if he has fully accepted himself yet. “I’m not happy about it. I don’t think: yes, how nice it is to do all this.” Dating is a good example of this. “I always think: When will I tell?”

more clarity

But that doesn’t mean he’s unhappy. On the contrary: he can enjoy the little things again, like sitting in the sun. He is proud of the guiding principle that we hope will help other transgender people feel better understood in sports. Lucas thinks it’s important that you not be seen as a victim. He shares his story with the hope that greater insight will lead to greater understanding. “Because the move made me who I am and I’m proud of that.”

He also started playing hockey again, at a student club in Utrecht. But he wasn’t told directly that he was a transgender person. “I don’t see the need for that.” I don’t want to be seen as a transgender Lucas, but only as a man. After all, that’s what I did for him. I don’t want everyone to consider me.”

Sunday interview

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