Italy has its first transgender gondolier.
Alex Hai, formerly known as Alexandra Hai, is a feminist who fought to become what at the time was considered the first ever female gondolier in the country.
Writing on Facebook, Italy’s first trans gondolier revealed: “I myself am not a woman.
“It is inaccurate to refer to me as ‘she’ or Alexandra’ for any reason,” he continued.
Hai told American radio show Radiolab that he was having sex-change surgery in San Francisco.
The gondolier runs his own independent Gondola tour company in Venice.
In the Facebook post, Hai revealed that he had mastered rowing a gondola “while in the body of a woman.
“However, I myself am not a woman, and the struggle of feminism is not my personal struggle
“I simply want to do the work I’m passionate about, and be seen by the people around me the way I see myself.”
Hai faced plenty of adversity when trying to become a gondolier.
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Before beginning his transition, the Venetian City Hall took Hai to court to prevent him from working as a gondolier.
He also faced a lot of discrimination from the male-dominated guild of gondoliers before coming out as trans.
He failed the gondola test three times, and has also been fined by police for illegal gondoliering.
Accusations of discrimination often relied on these points to condemn Hai.
In 2007, Hai won the lawsuit and was granted the right to work independently from the guild of gondoliers.
“I am supportive of equal rights for women, and feel that as someone who mastered the craft of rowing while in the body of a woman, I have proved that ‘yes, even a girl can do it’.”
Hai was rejected by his parents when he was a child.
At the age of 15, he ran away from his home in Hamburg, Germany.
During the interview with Radiolab, Hai said he always felt like a man trapped in a woman body, he had destroyed Barbie dolls as a child and he “prayed for a penis.”