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The Team

Ziggie Nybo Andersen: »When I retire, I will move on to campus«

The team — If students and researchers are to shine at the University of Copenhagen, they need a good support system. We know them as technical and administrative staff, and we at the University Post want to celebrate them with this new series.

I chose my name myself. I was a huge fan of David Bowie as a child, and when I was 13, people started teasingly calling me Ziggy (Stardust, ed.) because I was really in to my idol. There were a lot of letters going back and forth before my formal name change, but I didn’t leave the registry office in peace until they gave me permission. They eventually gave in because they were tired of my hassling. And now this is my name, just spelled slightly differently, because in Denmark Ziggy is a boy’s name, and I was not given that gender at birth.

My relationship with spreadsheets is a standing joke here. I give things different colours, and I really like it when things add up. When I was small, I was the type who sat in the sandbox with a sieve to get rid of the stones and grit, and that’s a bit like what I do at work. My brain likes to put things in order and make things work, so people are happy. They don’t know what I do, but they are happy because there is a curriculum that makes sense; they can sign up for the exam, and things work.

People often say that my job sounds boring. But it’s super-exciting if your brain is designed like mine is. I have a little bit of ADD (a variant of ADHD without the hyperactivity, ed.), so I prefer not do the same thing every day. And I have no idea what is going to happen when I turn on my computer in the morning. Of course, I always have a lot of stuff I have to go through, but unforeseen things often emerge. It might be an email from a department that is trying to get a student to take an exam, but registration will not be approved. Then we have to come up with something. Our department is called DASK, I can never remember what it stands for. Wait… data structure and quality… that’s it. And it may well be that there are only two hands on the keyboard, but all the questions about how we approach things, well we solve them together in our small team. And we really get on well with each other.


+Ziggie Nybo Andersen


+Administrative officer at Faculty Services, Faculty of Humanities since 2008, today in the ‘Education and Students’ section.

+Tasks: STADS, curricula, semester waivers, set up of basic data

+Slogan on Facebook: I refuse to die until things are better, and that’s a threat!


I only see the students if they have gone wrong. It’s nice to have direct contact with the students, but it’s better for me to sit here at my desk without interruptions. Except for this one task, where I do have student contact. It is me who is responsible for setting up legal gender changes for the students. The assignment was at DASK, and I was happy to take it on. And I’ve tried to make it a little easier for the students by setting up a form for those who need it. It is a matter that concerns only a few people, but for them, this means a lot. It’s really cool when I can write to the students: Now your CPR number and your name is correctly logged in to the university’s systems. And I love to sense the atmosphere in the Faculty’s main hall when semester starts, and it is buzzing with life.

I was 40 years old when I found out that you can be non-binary (define yourself as something other than a man or a woman, ed.). I have never felt comfortable in the gender that I was assigned, and I thought that I was not good at being a girl. I didn’t want to switch to another binary gender, because I didn’t feel like a boy either. It was fantastic when I found out that you don’t have to choose.

We formed a LGBTQIA+ staff network for gender-related minorities at the University of Copenhagen in 2019 so that we, in an open letter, could reject statements in a media debate that criticised us for political activism. After the corona pandemic, there has really not been any activity in the network. But it might come back, because it is nice to know people who share your own experiences. I am not sure everyone is as lucky as I am with their place of work. My colleagues and managers are nothing short of amazing.

I love to experience things that shake up my prejudices and biases. Everyone has prejudices, including me. But the question is: Do you perceive your own prejudices, or do you roll around in them like a dog that has found a dead seagull. I have learned from home that you have to try to look at your own prejudices, and you must always try to do better. I never have a clue how people will react to me, because I turn up at contexts where, I think, that my gender identity does not mean so much. But sometimes it turns out that I was wrong. But in other places, I can be very surprised by someone who says yes, by all means, you do you.

I have a bachelor’s degree in Dutch, the most beautiful language in the world. I love it! I love languages in general, and when I graduated from upper secondary school, I wanted to learn another. My friend pulled out a page about Dutch studies from a handbook about what you could study at university, which she sent to me with the words, ‘now we know what you need to study.’ And that was it. I got a job I liked, so I stopped after my bachelor’s degree. And now they’ve closed the whole damn thing down. Later, I took a one-year Higher Commercial programme because I thought financial knowledge could come in handy. I never really needed it, but my teacher in business strongly insisted that I should be an accountant because he could see how I was drawn to order.

Many of my office colleagues are academics. I have worked with an archaeologist, and today there are people who have studied religion, Hebrew, film studies, rhetoric, all sorts of things. That is the good thing about the humanities degree programmes – and this is not a criticism of other study programmes – that you learn how to approach the world, how to approach tasks, and hopefully you have learned something about how you work with others. This means that you are attractive to a labour market up and above the fact that you are also good at Dutch, Turkish or English. Many staff have started out here as student assistants and have found out that the university is a good place to work, not just a cool study environment.

I celebrate my birthday twice a year. The day I was born, and the day I cheated death. In 1999, when I was taking my motorcycle drivers licence, I was run down by a guy who thought it was okay to drive a car when you have smoked cannabis. It is not, by the way. Two of us were hit by him, and I was seriously injured. Luckily, the ambulance arrived quickly. When the police arrived afterwards, a policeman pointed at my motorcycle out on the road and asked my driving instructor if the body had already been picked up. They are still alive, my driving instructor said. This cannot be true! the policeman said. When they came out to question me a couple of days later at the hospital, the cops gave me a ‘high five’ and told me that at the station they had argued over who was going to go out to see me: They were so impressed with the fact that I was still alive, and everyone wanted to go out and wish me well.

When people say that there’s something you may not do, and you say, sure! And then you go somewhere and you do it. I walked with a crutch for 18 years. I couldn’t bend my leg because of scar tissue in my knee after the open femur fracture, but at one point I decided that I wanted to be able to cycle again: I found a skilled physiotherapist, and we decided to go all in and break down the scar tissue, so I had greater freedom of movement. Today, I’m completely free of the crutch.

I’m a big fan of everyday activism. I think it’s fine when climate activists tape themselves down on the asphalt, but I can’t make choices on behalf of others, just my own. That’s why I am, for example, a vegan. What other people do, that is up to them. When I make myself visible as LGBT+ with a flag on my shirt, then this is also a kind of everyday activism. When I was younger, it was always something dramatic when you came across someone who was queer. They were never just people. If there was a homosexual in a film – and it was always men – you could be certain that he died. Or got AIDS. Today, it’s the same thing with the transgender people. If someone is in a series or a film, it’s about being transgender. Instead of them just being there and being people. This is the kind of thing that you oppose by being an everyday activist. Or just being there. It will then be normalised. There are other narratives about transgender people, than about how difficult it is.

People should do what they want, so long as they don’t ‘scare the horses’ so to speak. Many transgender people live very average lives, where the agenda is actually about doing the shopping, or painting the bathroom. As an LGBT+ you are often told that this always takes up so much space, and that this is the only thing you ever talk about. But this is because others do not think that much about how much they themselves display their gender and romantic preferences. If my heterosexual colleague has a picture of his family on his desk, no one lifts an eyebrow. If my lesbian colleague has a picture of her wife and child, then it is suddenly a political statement. We need to move away from this. And we will only get to this via a representation that demonstrates that we live perfectly normal lives.

When I’m off, I read, listen to music, and play on the computer. I’ve played a lot of The Elder Scrolls and Diablo. Oh, Diablo. I hope they clean up the company before the new Diablo game is released. They have been exposed as having a rotten working environment for women and minorities. As such they will not get my money. I have also quit Netflix after a comedy special that I found transphobic. This is my kind of activism. But I don’t think you’re a bad person if you have a Netflix subscription. They also have very LGBT-friendly content that is on the right side of the story.

I have always said, when I retire, I will move on to campus. I have not regretted my original choice of study programme, but there are lots of things I have wanted to study. This has led to a diploma programme in public administration, and I learn languages for fun. I still read German, Dutch and English in addition to Danish. I understand a lot of French, and I am learning Italian, and I know some Italians who are kind enough not to laugh when I speak Italian to them.

I have started trying to learn Navajo online. But it is so hard. This goes both for the language in itself with all its intonations, and because there are very few people speaking it. But I started because I realised that I only have European languages. This is too bad, I thought, and then I went full wacko and chose a language that is on the verge of extinction. It is crazy interesting though, also from a linguistic standpoint, because it is so different from the other languages that I speak.