College Café: ‘Acceptance and intolerance of sexual and gender diversity’

Photo: Arie Kers
A. Kers

The third College Café took place on Tuesday 15 May. This gathering was motivated by the international day against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, which takes place on May 17th.

Erasmus Pride, together with the Diversity & Inclusion Office, organized a panel on the acceptance and intolerance of sexual and gender diversity.

Under the guidance of Anna Tijsseling, postdoc researcher at the Willem Pompe Institute and lecturer in political history at Utrecht University, the panel members and the public talked to each other. Anna suggested to search for another language for the current loaded and psychiatric terminology 'phobia' as in homophobia and genderphobia. Marli Huijer (professor of public philosophy and 'Faculty Diversity Officer' at the Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam) concluded that we should stay away from the distinction between normal and abnormal. We have to stop to put eachother in categories based on sexual identity. She also referred to her recently published book 'Beminnen. Nieuw licht op seksuele vrijheid’ (‘To love. New light on sexual freedom').

Esther Plugge, transgender and secretary of the Transcafé, said she wants to want to break down walls and strive to not be continually judged on her gender identity. Esther is always extra aware in the public space of her genderidentity by the way people look at her, On the other hand, Anwar, an Egyptian refugee, indicated that he was so happy with the acceptance of his homosexuality in the Netherlands. He appreciates the fact that he is free to be himself in the Netherlands. If he wants to walk on high heels, that is possible without further consequences. He even gets positive reactions to it. However, he also acknowledged that this does not apply to everyone, and certainly not (yet) for transgenders.

The meeting ended with the question whether we could find another language that freed us from the negative connotation that 'phobia' carries with it. The term heteronormativity was suggested. Not everyone agreed, but the different viewpoints led in any case to the insight that we need to find a new positive language to be able to talk about sexuality and gender.

On Thursday 17 May, the EUR raises the rainbow flag as part of the international day against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

More information

The College Cafés are an initiative of the Diversity & Inclusion Office. With the cafés, the D & I Office wants to stimulate students and employees to get in touch with each other and to enter into a discussion about important themes relating to diversity and inclusion. The College Cafés take place 4 times a year. Ideas for a next college café? Feel free to mail to

The Diversity & Inclusion Week takes place in the week of 28 May to 1 June. For more information, visit