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Interview, Yvo Manuel Vas dias

Yvo is the Founder and Chair of TransAmsterdam transgender organization promoting art, culture, and lifestyle. The organization’s mission is to improve the perception of trans people through art and culture while increasing their visibility, including non-binary individuals.

Yvo is a trans man, a Buddhist with a Portuguese-Jewish background born in Amsterdam. 

Back in 2014, Yvo started TransAmsterdam as there was no other platform to talk about the stories of trans people in the Netherlands. 

“Every year, there was this pride in Amsterdam, and we wanted to tell our stories to the people. So, to give ourselves a voice, we started a festival during this pride for nine days. Thus, TransAmsterdam founded the Trans Art School in 2019,” said Yvo while talking to UPDEED.

The purpose of art and culture is to demonstrate that trans persons are more than just their gender. By fostering this connection between the trans community and the wider community, the organisation hopes to empower and emancipate trans individuals in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and worldwide.

As Yvo said: “​We connect trans people with each other and with people outside the trans community through art and culture. We also want the world to understand that trans people are more than their gender.”

With this unique initiative, trans people can make paintings with other trans people, shoot a film, compose songs, and many other things. This eventually gives strength to the community as a whole, builds high self-esteem, and allows them to share talents with others and society as a whole.

Cut short, the organization collaborates with various artists, including painters, poets, actors, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, and authors, in order to highlight the creativity of trans people. They collaborate with local, national, and worldwide cultural and artistic institutions.

We still need to go far

While explaining the changing perception and attitude of society towards trans people, Yvo is of the view that there are both positive and negative sides to it. 

“It is true that now we are getting accepted by society, and people are coming out to support our cause. However, on the flip side, we still face a lot of discrimination, face physical abuse,” Yvo said.

“Everyone can be who they are. We have a long way to go and need more things to do with the community and the organisation,” he added.

Yvo believes that it’s important for people to be more open, especially when it comes to within the families, talk with each other, and go out to seek help if required. Similarly, it’s necessary to bring more inclusivity on the policy side and for corporates and organizations to be more open in the workplace.

“The need of the hour is to start sensitization, bring awareness, and give education in schools,” Yvo said.

Meet Yvo

Giving his message, Yvo is of the opinion that it’s important to follow your own heart and don’t listen to other people. One should surround themselves with people around whom one can talk and look for a place where one can be happy. 

Yvo was nominated in 2016 for the “Amsterdam of the Year”, an award that aims to promote Amsterdammers with significant contributions and commitment in their city.

As a token of appreciation for his commitment to combating inequality and connecting Amsterdam citizens, the Amsterdam police and Pink in Blue (a network for LGBTQ+ police) gave him 2017 a certificate for his work for the trans community in Amsterdam.

In 2018 he was appointed Amsterdam Hero for his work for TransAmsterdam by the Network Amsterdam Hero. In 2020 Yvo had the honour to become the “Sahodari Foundation” ambassador to build a bridge between Amsterdams’ and Indias’ trans communities.

To conclude

Over the years, Yvo has collaborated with a large number of foreign LGBTQI+ organizations, giving workshops, lectures, and advice related to trans+ issues.

“It moves me when I see the self-confidence and creativity of trans and non-binary people grow when they develop their talents in our team and our Trans Art School,” concluded Yvo.

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