Transgender Awareness Week: bus driver Meike in the Netherlands is out and proud

2020.20.11
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Within Transdev we find nothing more important than creating a safe environment. A safe environment for our customers and passengers, but even more so for everyone working within the Transdev family. All our employees deserve a workplace where they can feel at home and where they can be themselves.

Meike, born a stone’s throw from the Transdev Netherlands’ headquarter and a bus driver for the Transdev subsidiary Connexxion, talks open-heartedly about her work, colleagues and about Transgender Awareness Week. « Unfortunately, I haven’t felt at ease at every employer in the past, but here at Connexxion I can truly be myself. »

Before Meike got behind the wheel of the bus, she travelled many miles for various courier and parcel services.

It was very nice work, with lots of freedom. I’ve always loved driving. In fact, from an early age, I was always playing with toy cars. This interest is still there, I’m a big motorsport fan.

Meike Ploeg, bus driver for the subsidiary Transdev Connexxion

Although Meike played a lot with toy cars in her childhood as a stereotypical boy, she soon felt she wasn’t comfortable in her own skin.

Pretty literally, I just couldn’t accept my body the way it was. Something wasn’t right.

Ever since I was a kid, I felt different, but I didn’t really know in what way. I felt I was different from the boys in my class, but I couldn’t express it. You’re not a boy because you feel like a girl, but you can’t be a girl because you look like a boy. A kind of no man’s land. It wasn’t until around the age of 12 that I started to understand more and more who or what I was. 

Meike Ploeg, bus driver for the subsidiary Transdev Connexxion

At the age of eighteen I shared this with my parents and after that I started to seriously think about my transition.

In mid-2003 I made the decision and a good year and a half later, at the beginning of 2005, I finally became myself. Meike. Eventually I had surgery in 2007. A period followed in which, although more than ever I was myself, I was still very insecure. I also sat at home for a couple of years after I was hit in my car by fleeing robbers, an exciting story. This left me with some back injuries. It wasn’t an easy time. It was only in the last six months that I realized that almost everyone is critical of themselves. That self-reflection has helped me enormously. Since then I’ve become more self-assured and I’ve come to love myself more. Actually, it’s kind of a second ‘coming out’.

Meike Ploeg, bus driver for the subsidiary Transdev Connexxion

A friend who was already a driver for Connexxion persuaded Meike to make the switch from courier to bus driver.

If I had known how much fun this job is and that the colleagues are so sociable and understanding, I would have done it a lot sooner.

At first, however, she was afraid of reactions from colleagues and also from passengers.

About my voice I became a bit more insecure the last few months. Especially on the phone I am sometimes ‘misgendered’. That’s why I now follow speech therapy, so that my voice sounds more feminine and fits me better.

Being transgender is not a ‘thing’ here, not a difficult issue. That, together with my self-mockery and humorous view of things, made me feel at home here very quickly. However, unfortunately this is not yet the case for everyone and everywhere. That’s why it’s a good thing that there is a Transgender Awareness Week, something that for the first time I dare to openly ask attention for myself. 

Meike Ploeg, bus driver for the subsidiary Transdev Connexxion

This week is dedicated worldwide to increasing the visibility of the trans community and drawing attention to the problems facing transgender people.

In large part thanks to the good contact with her colleagues, Meike enjoys every day on the bus.

We drive here in one of the most beautiful areas of our country. The routes along the countryside are beautiful, whatever the season.

I’m also happy that the front door of the bus is open again, I missed the personal contact with the passengers. I can especially enjoy the contact with children. I want to show them that the bus or the driver isn’t scary. On the contrary, it’s a lot of fun. Our work is really very rewarding.

I think the strength of our profession is that we are just as much a reflection of society as the passengers in our bus. Within our company, you will find everything: every age, every religion, every sexual orientation. Just like the passengers we carry every day.

That’s why I feel I can be myself here. I am who I am; now more than ever! »

Meike Ploeg, bus driver for the subsidiary Transdev Connexxion

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