NewsMavens
Newsmavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. Newsmavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund. Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10
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Poland
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Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Super 8 camera. Wikicommons
NEWS ROUNDUP 1 Feb 2018

TV journalist to change gender in front of the camera

Marjan Justaert recommended by Marjan Justaert De Standaard, Belgium

Belgian news reporter Boudewijn Van Spilbeeck announced Monday that he is becoming a woman at age 58 -- and will film the process for a TV broadcast.

Belgium Women to watch

Why this story matters:

The story has had a direct impact on the LGBT population in Belgium: the Transgender Info Point and the Holebifoon -- a LGBT helpline -- have been getting more calls and questions.

Van Spilbeeck says she feels liberated and happy. Her openness about the process in media interviews -- including physical changes, speech therapy and her relatives' feelings -- is impressive and brave. As are her wife and two adult children, who accepted her transition a while ago.

LGBT, media

Almost only positive reactions on the Belgian 'Caitlin Jenner'

  • Bo Van Spilbeeck, formerly known as Boudewijn Van Spilbeeck, is Belgium's first transgender journalist and will transition in front of the camera.
  • Van Spilbeeck said she wanted to come out as transgender 15 years ago but didn't believe that the time was right.
  • The decision of the American Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner to transition to a woman in 2015 made an impression on Van Spilbeeck: "That she made that decision at the age of 65 was the moment at which I realized that I still could."
  • Van Spilbeeck has cross dressed for years but only started taking hormones six months ago. The first operation on Bo's face is planned for next month.
  • Van Spilbeeck's bosses at VTM News are supporting her decision: "I was given the guarantee straight away that I can carry on doing what I do."
  • LGBT organizations have also applauded Van Spilbeeck's decision, saying that the more the media shares stories about transgender people, the more transgender people will be socially accepted.
  • "I see it as a moral duty to use my story to bring out and to support people in their body and their gender role is not feeling well," Van Spilbeeck says.
  • Not everyone has supported Van Spilbeeck's announcement. One catholic student organization criticized the media attention, saying changing gender is absurd and nothing more than "eccentric fantasies."

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