Entrepreneur and transgender: ‘Not everyone understood my plan’ | NOW

Monday is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and Gender Phobia. Transgender people in the Netherlands are less likely to be active as entrepreneurs, according to figures from CBS. What obstacles does this group encounter when starting their own business?

Romy Rockx from the gym Queer Gym in Rotterdam was an independent theater maker until two years ago, when the corona crisis broke out. At that time, he was also in the middle of his transition. “It was a turbulent time for various reasons. My agenda was empty and I could not exercise either. I missed it a lot, sports have always been important to me.”

That gave Rockx an idea. “I’ve always struggled with the fact that as a transgender person I did not feel at home in gyms. When I was allowed to work out in my brother – in – law’s converted garage, I noticed that I felt much freer. That’s how I came up with the idea. about having my own gym that starts for queer, trans, gay, bi, intersex because it did not exist yet. “

Lack of financial wealth due to poor position in the labor market

But he had no capital, and then it is quite difficult to start his own business. Fortunately, Rockx was able to rent part of an anti-squat gym, and his parents were willing to pay for the training to become personal trainers. “Every time I made some money, I bought some new stuff for my gym.”

Freya Terpstra from Transgender Netwerk Nederland sees that more transgender people lack financial wealth. According to Terpstra, this is partly due to the fact that a transition is expensive; not all treatments and surgeries are refundable. “It makes it difficult for many to start their own business.”

But a large part of the economic problem is due to the poor position in the labor market, says Terpstra. Transgender people do not always have a job, research from the Transgender Network shows.

“We have seen for a number of years that transgender people are more often unemployed; more than 10 percent were unemployed in 2017,” Terpstra said. “Transgender people are therefore about three times more likely to become unemployed than cis-sexes. Then you already lack a primary source of income.”

Less vulnerable when you are your own boss

The figures also show that the group is actually less likely to be an entrepreneur: 8 percent of transgender people are self-employed or self-employed. While figures from Statistics Holland show that two years ago, 13 percent of all working people were self-employed.

Eveline van den Boom is the exception to the rule. Van den Boom has been a successful entrepreneur since she was eighteen. In 2013, she started Vliegles.nl, an online provider of flight instruction and flight experiences, such as parachuting, but also fear of flight training.

“You want everything to change with you right away, but with others it often takes longer to get used to something new.”

Eveline van den Boom

Not long after, she went into transition. A very visible process, by Van den Boom. “You quickly become a target for bullying at work. It makes one extremely vulnerable. Fortunately, as my own boss, I had the advantage that it is a little easier. You still hope for understanding from customers and partners, but they are somewhat further away from you. than your colleagues, so it affects you less. “

Her transition ultimately had no effect on the company’s success. “Whether that happens can depend on the industry in which you do business. If you are a self-employed recruiter, it’s probably a completely different story. I think it made a difference that I have an online business.”

Always keep going, even when people do not understand it

Suppose you have a customer or partner who does not accept you as you are, then you can choose not to cooperate with them. Van den Boom: “If you can afford to say no, I would definitely do it.” But Van den Boom still recommends giving some people a little more time. “You want everything to change with you right away, but with others it often takes longer to get used to something new.”

Rockx has learned that as an entrepreneur, you have to keep going, even if not everyone believes in you. “There were people who wondered if my gym was not creating more distance. Not everyone understood my plan when they applied for financial aid. But it has never stopped me and see where I am now. I now have my own building , and I could even hire two teachers. “

Leave a Comment