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Founder TransAmsterdam is interviewed by Sahodari Foundation

“Transgender people are more than their gender”- Activist Yvo Manuel Vas Dias of TransAmsterdam

January 20, 2020

Yvo Manuel Vas Dias, founder and chairman of the Netherlands based organization TransAmsterdam and who is also the ambassador of Sahodari Foundation is interviewed by Sahodari Foundation

An Introduction on Netherlands firebrand transgender rights activist Yvo Manuel Vas Dias

Yvo Manuel Vas Dias is a trans-man, a Buddhist with Jewish background, and a born networker. In 2014, he organized the first TransPride in Amsterdam and started the TransAmsterdam foundation in 2015. By starting TransAmsterdam, he aimed to improve the image of transgender people in the Netherlands, empowering the community through organizing festivals, social events and provide an art-and-culture-platform for transgender people. An example of this is the start of the Trans Art School, which organizes creative and expressive workshops for and by trans people.

In 2016, Yvo was the first trans-man to be nominated for the ‘Amsterdammer of the Year’, and in 2017 he received a declaration from the Amsterdam police force for his continuous work for the trans community, his commitment to combating inequality and for connecting Amsterdam citizens. In 2018, he was named ‘Amsterdam Hero’ by the Amsterdam Heroes Network.

  • What is your feeling about becoming the Ambassador of Sahodari Foundation?

I was extremely honored when Kalki asked me to be an ambassador for the Sahodari Foundation. It is so special to work together with eachother’s organizations, to be able to work for the transgender people, transgender creatives and transgender artists, and to build a bridge between our organizations in the Netherlands and India.

  • TransAmsterdam and Sahodari Foundation both work on transgender community’s creative expressions. Why is artistic expressions so important for the community?

Transgender people are often confronted with prejudice and discrimination, such as unequal treatment when applying for jobs, being addressed incorrectly and inappropriately (being misgendered), and verbal and/or physical violence. The stress related to this unequal treatment is also called minority stress: stress because you belong to a minority. You become suspicious of other people and you no longer dare to step outside, out of fear to be treated negatively.

Minority stress can lead to depression, loneliness and suicide. By using creative expression we can develop more self-confidence as trans-people and community, and feel we stand stronger in society. Empowerment, self-awareness and self-esteem are the keywords to develop our talents, and show that we are more than transgender. Through our art, we show that we are powerful people.

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