“I’m a whore, I’m a woman and you can’t stop me.”

On July 28,  the transgender pioneer Aaicha Bergamin got what many felt she deserved: a tombstone on her nameless grave on the Sint Barbara graveyard in Amsterdam.

Aaicha was born a boy in 1932. She moved to Paris and ended up in the transgender scene of the French capital. Back in Amsterdam she became a well-known lady in the Amsterdam Red Light District.

Bier of Aaicha Bergamin and tombstone, covered with her scarf
Bier of Aaicha Bergamin and tombstone, covered with her scarf

In those days, discrimination against transgenders was rampant. Getting a normal job or an education was hardly possible.
Until the 1970’s, Aaicha was frequently harrassed by the police, who chased down her and her trans friends. A city ordnance said it was illegal to dress as a woman if you were a man, and the other way round. This meant that all transgenders were easy preay for police officers, who sometimes, out of sheer boredom, arrested transsexuals and bullied them and made them undress for them.
When it finally became possible to have her gender changed to female in her passport, she took it to the police station, and shouted : ‘I am a whore, I am a woman and you can’t stop me!‘.

In June 2014, she was buried with hardly any ceremony at all. Due to lack of money she ended up in a grave paid for by the City. Her fighting attitude was one of the main reasons for historian Alex Bakker, together with Dolly Bellefleur, to set up a crowd funding campaign to get her a decent grave, and a decent ‘good-bye’. When enough money was collected, a group of 6 artists each designed a tombstone for her grave. From these designs, one was chosen by a jury.

On July 28 the tombstone was ready to be unveiled. Before the unveiling, there was a ‘memorial service’ in the chapel on the graveyard grounds. Historian Alex Bakker, one of the initiators of the tombstone, spoke some words to commemorate Aaicha’s life.

Alex Bakker speaks at the ceremony
Alex Bakker speaks at the ceremony

The speech was followed by several songs performed by the famous Dolly Bellefleur, accompanied by the chapels organ.

Dolly Bellefleur sings for Aaicha
Dolly Bellefleur sings for Aaicha

See here, here and here for some video footage of the songs.

The service attracted many people. There were some 150 guests, so that some people had to stand.

After the service, the bier that carried not Aaicha’s body and coffin, but her picture and the tombstone, covered with one of her scarves, was solemnly pushed to her grave. After the placement of the tombstone, everybody drank a glass of prosecco to end the worthy remembrance ceremony.

The unveiling on the graveyard
The unveiling on the graveyard
Aaicha's tombstone
Aaicha’s tombstone
Fullscreen-Logo
Grave of Aaicha Bergamin

loading map - please wait...

Grave of Aaicha Bergamin 52.390622, 4.864240 Grave of Aaicha Bergamin (7 January 1932 - 31 May 2014 Aaicha Bergamin was a well-known transgender woman (born as a boy). She lived in various places, but most of the time in Amsterdam, which is also where she died. During her life she suffered from police harassment and discrimination by her family and society in general. But she always remained strong. When she finally received a passport which officially acknowledged her being a woman, she is said to have gone to the police station where she said to the officers her famous words: \"I\'m a whore, I\'m a woman and you can\'t stop me!\" Impoverished, she received a municipal grave on the cemetery Sint Barbara near the Westerpark, without any tombstone, only marked with a number.The historian Alex Bakker organized a fund raiser to mark her grave with a proper work of art. This was unveiled on July 28 2015, in the presence of about 100 guests. The singer/artist Dolly Bellefleur sang several songs in her honour, to mark the occasion.