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Business News/ News / India/  Google Doodle celebrates 109th birth anniversary of trangender cyclist Willy De Bruyn
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Google Doodle celebrates 109th birth anniversary of trangender cyclist Willy De Bruyn

Google celebrates Belgian cyclist Willy De Bruyn's 109th birth anniversary with a doodle of him riding a bicycle.

Google Doodle of Belgian cyclist Willy De BruynPremium
Google Doodle of Belgian cyclist Willy De Bruyn

Search engine giant Google on Friday celebrated the 109th birth anniversary of Belgian cyclist Willy De Bruyn by creating a doodle of him riding a bicycle.

‘WHO WAS WILLY DE BRUYN’

Born in 1914 in Erembodegem, Belgium, De Bruyn was an intersexual person, that is with a combination of male and female biological traits. However, due to stricter gender norms at that time, De Bruyn’s parents had to register him as either a boy or a girl. He was assigned a female at birth and named Elvira.

De Bruyn grew up in his parents' cafe, where he worked for a while after completing school. During that time, he picked up cycling and won his first race at 15 years old. During the teenage days, he began questioning the gender identity that was assigned to him. At this time, in the eyes of society and legally he was considered a woman and, therefore, became the female world champion cyclist in 1934 and 1936. But after a few years, he stopped competing with women as he felt uncomfortable in this competition set and the victories he earned.

De Bruyn moved to Brussels and worked as a dishwasher, sawmiller, and baker — jobs that were exclusive to men — but was fired once people discovered his ID said “female." At this point, he had been researching and considering his gender identity and intersex traits for years. 

He decided to officially have his gender recognized as male and brought a doctor’s certificate confirming he was a man to the court of Oudenaarde. The court initially denied the request, but a year later after much persistence with lawyers and additional doctor’s notes, De Bruyn received his identity card declaring him a man named Willy. He recognized as a man on 24 March 1937 after a name change.

Cycling still brought him joy, so De Bruyn began racing with men. In 1938, he married fellow cyclist Clementine Juchters, and together they opened and ran a sports bar in Brussels called Café Denderleeuw for many years before settling in Antwerp.

De Bruyn is remembered for his athleticism, his perseverance on the journey to becoming legally recognised as a man, and his fight for the acceptance of intersex people. In 2019, a street in Brussels was named after the cycling champion, the first road in the city to be named after an intersex person.

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Published: 04 Aug 2023, 07:22 AM IST
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