Learning to Fly


Flying has been a theme in my life since my parents made the decision to move from our small town in the Netherlands to a remote group of islands in the Atlantic. Since one of them needed to stay at home and keep an eye on the house, that had not yet been sold, I traveled between countries to stay with either parent.

My life was suddenly filled with gigantic Boeings and bewildered stewardesses who were unsure what to do about me during their coffee breaks. They´d dump me in the kiddie corner along with all the other confused (and sometimes crying) kids. It was quite the experience. One thing stuck with me from my travels as infant luggage.

Taking off was an amazing experience for me. It was an experience that was larger than life, of leaving behind the past and venturing beyond known horizons. In consequent years, I had dream upon dream of being on a runway, just running faster and faster until I grew wings. In multiple occassions I dreamt that I was flying above my past.

When later I took to the skies as co-pilot of a Grob 115, and started learning how to fly gliders with the club in my home town, it became unmistakable that this calling was somehow interconnected with my growth as a person. The act of flying was not just this bewildering act of taking control – it meant learning to take control in my own life.

As my gender identity started to come more to the fore, my interest in the heavenly realm faded; suddenly I found myself preoccupied with the very earthly business of dealing with gender clinics and the physical aspects of transition. Making boring phone calls, and a lot of frustration were the reality of the day.

When I injured both my toes this year and contracted CRPS, I felt more stagnated and unhappy than I had in a long time. I had hit rock bottom again, I could not take off – I could not be free. I felt so desperate, the thought of blue skies and freedom seemed an impossibility. In July, I started testosterone by myself.

My life picked up speed – and to my amazement it didn´t take long for me to be able to walk longer distances, and even run short distances again. In my mind´s eye, I ran faster and faster – until I jumped off the edge of the precipice I had been standing on for so long – the old life that was holding me back.

Photograph made by me in 2014.


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