Let’s build a bridge


Build bridges between religious transgender and different religions

Yvo Manuel Vas Dias was born on 11 June 1960 in Amsterdam. He is a transsexual man, a Buddhist with a Portuguese-Jewish background. A student of Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and a member of the Shambhala “Buddhist” Meditation Community.

As a child he always felt that he wanted to build bridges between different cultures and religions. In the 1980s he was educated as a social worker, and worked for various social-work organizations where he specialized in working with migrants, lgbt and bereavement counseling. After having worked as a social worker for a number of years, he switched to public relations. As a public relations manager he has worked for various lgbt, Buddhist, art and cultural organizations. He was also active as a committee member for public relations in lgbt, transgender and Buddhist organizations where he organized conferences, book presentations, festivals and Buddhist programmes and accompanied Buddhist teachers. During his transition he was well supported by his Buddhist teachers. Through years of meditation and mantra practice, as well as doing a number of retreats, his transition has been a good one. He is now also legally a man.

During his education as case manager, he founded the Workgroup Transgender, Religion, Philosophy and Ethics. The aim of this workgroup is to build bridges between religious and philosophical transgenders and various religions. For the Working Group he has carried out research among transgenders in the Netherlands and keeps in contact with religious, lgbt organizations, religious leaders, universities, academies and students, and gives lectures, information and advice.

The research entitled “A helping hand” shows that during the transprocess, help is not always automatically given, but also not in all cases impossible to receive from religion. Within the Christian religion, in which most of the people who were interviewed were raised, there is often very little openness towards sex changes or people who do not feel completely that they are a man or a woman. Processes of change are sometimes seriously delayed by the often unwilling attitude of religious leaders. Some of the people questioned ultimately find their way within the Christian religion or succeed in starting a dialogue with the church, and others seek support in spiritual movements such as Buddhism. The research shows the necessity of more dialogue and build up of knowledge about transsexuals, transgenders and religion.

Over the years Yvo has been in touch with an increasing number of foreign lgbt organizations, began giving advice and lectures. He has founded a number of international religious transgender networks, among them Transgender Religion Global Network – Transgender Friendly Religious Alliance  the International Transgender Buddhist Sangha and the Religious and Spiritual Transgenders

With this transgender networks he wants to offer religious and buddhist transgenders a platform so that they can exchange ideas, keep in touch and share experiences. His aim is also to build a bridge between religious and philosophical transgenders and religious movements so that religious transgenders feel safe and welcome within their religious community.