Interview with Geneviève van Lynden - Part 2

That Miss Travestie Show was on national television for a few seasons. I never took part in that, mainly because as a participant you were also expected to show your male persona in a short film.
My first time on the fashion catwalk was for the reopening of a major women's fashion store. It was during this period that I really looked for recognition as a woman. I responded to an appeal in the newspaper, asking ladies for a fashion show. After a short conversation, I was invited to participate. I didn't have any experience, but luckily most of the other ladies didn't either. In two evenings we were taught how to walk, how to move. These practice evenings were already a great experience for me; I was just a woman among other women. No one noticed or at least pretended not to notice. The fashion show itself was also a delightful experience. One thing led to another. I've been on the catwalk several more times, but it never turned professional. That was not my ambition either. At that time I just had a job with the police and those fashion shows were pro bono. Just a wonderful hobby with occasional nice gifts (shoes, dresses, etc.).
Monika: Did many transgender girls participate in the fashion shows at that time?
Geneviève: I never noticed if there were other transgender girls participating in fashion shows. At least not at shows I participated in. My radar was pretty good when it came to other T-girls...
I participated once in a lingerie fashion show with both cis women and transgenders. The owner of several lingerie stores in North-Holland wanted to expand her clientele to include transgenders. She attended a T&T evening (self-help group) in Amsterdam where I happened to be present. Together with a few other transgenders, we were asked to participate in that show, in which cis women would also participate. The show itself drew several hundred spectators. It's the only show I still have pictures of. It was fun to participate in this one, but (for me) not as great as those other shows.

Old photo of the lingerie fashion show with cis
women and transgender women. The woman in white
called me her younger sister!

Monika: Did you make friends with other transgender models? Do you still keep in touch with them?
Geneviève: At that time I knew several transgender people who also worked as models. The contacts always remained superficial. In the nightlife in Amsterdam and some other cities, we ran into each other, had a few drinks, and danced the night away. It was like a village, everyone "knew" each other but in the end, we couldn't remember each other's names.
I have one friend from that time with whom I am still in contact. She is a wonderful woman, retired, and she travels the world to play golf in the most beautiful places.
Monika: Do you remember some interesting stories that happened during any fashion shows?
Geneviève: Every fashion show was a super fun experience for me because it confirmed that I was attractive enough to participate, and of course the recognition that I was (seen as) a girl/woman.
There's a fun incident that immediately comes to mind. That was not during, but immediately after the lingerie show with both transgender and cis women. A gorgeous couple came to me after the closing ceremony and they complimented me. They only realized at the end that I was not a cis woman, so they said. We drank one glass too many, and I spent a wonderful night with those two. Come to think of it, maybe that's how they lured me into their bed. Anyway, it was a really nice experience.
Monika: When doing fashion shows, you must have met many cis female models. What was their reaction to transgender models?
Geneviève: In that one show with both cis women and transgenders it was of course no problem. The cis women knew in advance what they were participating in. One of the cis ladies called me her younger sister because we looked a bit alike. In those days it was really no problem to participate in all kinds of activities as a transvestite or transsexual (those were the two options at the time), or just go shopping in your peasant dress. In my experience, cis women, in particular, are very accepting then, and still are.
In the other shows, only cis women participated. As a trans you often quickly notice whether people 'get it', but I've never had a negative experience.

Old photo by Nancy de Winter.

Monika: You were also an inspiration for graduating art school artists and photographers.
Geneviève: The first time I was asked to model was for the boyfriend of the girl who recruited crossdressers for the “Miss Travestie Show”. He was a professional photographer. Some photos with me as a subject have been exhibited and also sold. He was a professional photographer and he also taught at an art school. One thing led to another, I have modeled several times for students' graduation projects. Through this connection, but also through the T&T evenings I spoke about earlier, I came into contact with several artists and photographers.
I once modeled for an American photographer, who I only learned years later that he was quite famous. It seems that photos of me (among others) have been published in a book. I've never seen the book. Through my connections, I have tried to find out his name, but so far to no avail. So if someone has such a photo book and recognizes me in it, I'd like to hear about it.
Monika: The photo shoot for a commercial for a luxury department store (De Bijenkorf) "We welcome everyone!" must have been an interesting experience for you.
Geneviève: Oh Monika, you already know a lot about me... Sometime in the mid-nineties, I was asked for a photoshoot, in which I would act as a transgender. This was for a commercial for the Bijenkorf. There are a few of those luxury department stores in the Netherlands with the oldest and most famous being in Amsterdam. Everyone who visits this city has seen the Bijenkorf on Dam Square.
The commercial aimed to promote that everyone was welcome in that department store. Several people who deviated a bit from the usual posed for these commercials. That was done in a respectful way.
During the photoshoot in the lingerie department of that department store, a manager came up to us very agitated and shouted that it was forbidden to take pictures. He even demanded that the film roll be removed from the camera. Despite the fact that half a studio with flashlights and umbrellas had been built, he did not believe that it was part of an order from the management. Clearly a case of miscommunication. In the end, it turned out okay.
Monika: Another interesting episode was your short career as an assistant to a mistress, who worked in a men's club. 
Geneviève: I went out a lot in the nightlife of Amsterdam. It didn't just stop at the dance clubs, but there were also private clubs, where eroticism could be experienced in all its forms. There I met Jacqueline, a beautiful woman, who also happened to work as a BDSM mistress in a very famous men's club. She found me interesting, and that was mutual. I was not into BDSM, but I found her very intriguing. She asked me to be her assistant in that club.

Old photo, posing in my bedroom.

At that time I worked for a secret police research organization in Amsterdam (for those in the know, the IRT). I knew that many criminals frequented that club. It felt so very exciting to get the chance to take a look inside that club. Not for my official work, but just because it was so freakingly exciting.
My 'assistant job' was simple. I had to be present in the special room where clients were humiliated, crucified, beaten, and many more things I had never heard of. Laugh at them now and then, or offer the mistress a drink. My career as an assistant has only lasted a few weeks. I resolutely stopped taking it after I was present at the 'SM treatment' of the largest mafia boss in the Netherlands at the time, who was liquidated a few weeks later.
This exciting work was fun and another acknowledgment and confirmation of my womanhood. But my experience with this criminal was dead scary. I still get shivers when I think about it.
Outside the BDSM room, when Jacqueline and I were having a drink at the bar, several times a client indicated that he would like to go separate with me. I kindly declined, but of course, it was very stroking for my ego...
Monika: I guess that the atmosphere in the police department is similar to that of the army. Did your transgender status cause any trouble?
Geneviève: During the eighties, I worked in the uniformed service in a small municipality in the middle of the Netherlands. I did this job as a man. In my spare time, I indulged in the activities we discussed. It was a life in two roles. Most of my colleagues were aware of my double life. That was no problem at all. Few didn't know, but that was my choice for obvious reasons.
It was not until 1988 that I entered the transition process. That was also the time when I started working with that secret team in Amsterdam. About the time I wanted to announce it there and was ready to start the real-life test, my daughter was born in 1989. My girlfriend's previous support - we weren't married - turned around. I stopped the transition process to save the relationship. So there was no longer any reason to make it known at work. Had I gone ahead with the transition, I am convinced that this would not have caused any significant problems. I was already a bit crazy (in a good way), I had long hair and was regularly mistaken as a woman by outsiders.

Recent photo, bit sexy, checking my Instagram

Monika: Were you the only transgender woman in the Dutch police at that time?
Geneviève: Certainly not. In my network, I have come across many police officers who were all transgender to some degree. One labeled herself as a transvestite/crossdresser, others entered the transition process or had become women in the meantime. Of the people who had the GRS, not one remained on active duty during that time. That was during the 80's/90's.
It is only after 2000 that there are several examples of transgender women and men who remained on active duty with the police or who entered the service. I am one of them.
In general, transgender people are accepted in the police. We can function unimpeded, with the occasional comments you get everywhere. I am aware of a fairly recent negative experience with a transgender woman on the police force. Through an employment agency, I had hired her myself for the ICT helpdesk. Her female name and dark male voice did not match. After several surprised reactions from the people who called the helpdesk, she decided to answer with a male name. This was a reason for a homophobic/transphobic executive to fire her on the spot: reason, she pretended to be someone else than she was. I know, that was the world upside down. To this day I regret not being able to intervene in a timely manner as I was "conveniently" safely out of the way due to illness.
I no longer work for the police.


All the photos: courtesy of Geneviève van Lynden.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

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