High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Brussels Gets First Street Named after Trans Person

Brussels Gets First Street Named after Trans Person

The former cycling world champion Willy De Bruyn, who was christened Elvira at birth, is the first trans person to get a street named after him in Brussels.

Willy De Bruyn (1914-1989) was born “intersexual”, i.e. with a combination of male and female biological traits. Elvira was registered by his parents as a girl. At the age of 15, De Bruyn participated for the first time in a cycling race for girls, before becoming female world champion cyclist in 1934 and 1936. However, many people then questioned De Bruyn's masculine appearance.

From 1936 onwards Elvira starts to study and take an interest in her identity, and was at last recognized as a man on 24 March 1937 after a name change. Afterwards, Willy and his wife ran a café in in the Brussels North Quarter for many years.

“Public space is a reflection of our collective history. We dedicate street names in honour of those who marked society,” deputy mayor in urban planning Ans Persoons said. “De Bruyn and his fight for recognition of trans people is among those whose story should be told. It is also a way to support the fight against discrimination.”

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