I'm Jordanna, I like my nickname better, Danna. I'm 26 years old, I'm currently unemployed, out there, in life; experiencing, appreciating, enjoying.

I wanted to talk about something I was reflecting on, about freedom - I always like to talk about it because it's a very strong and expressive thing for me, in my life... In the life of every LGBT+ person, right? I always make a point of talking about it whenever I can, because it touches me when I think about it. When I was discovering myself, there was the whole issue of living in a family that, although not super religious, was very conservative. And we know how it works, right? It's hard to grow up in a family like that. They were great to me, but they demanded that I fit in a little box - and that little box was overwhelming, it depressed me. I really thought my life would be... That. I thought I had nowhere else to run, if not living repressed in that suffocating little box. Then I started to discover myself, to look for information and even with a little more information, that's where I thought "no, I can't make it, it will be very difficult to tell them. It will be too difficult to talk about these things." But in the end I managed to [tell them] - I don't know how, I don't know where I got strength from, it was bigger than me. I can not explain. I really can't explain where it came from, because I thought I would never make it. (sighs) The word "freedom" means so much. Much more than the word, the meaning, it's something bigger than me, bigger than anything.

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if I hadn't made it. I don't think I could have endured it much longer. I heard so much that hurt me, it was like an open wound for so long that I thought it would never heal. Even today, even having overcome some things, others are still in the healing process. Lately, I've struggled a lot with these wounds that every now and then seem to reopen, for some reason or another. I catch myself, in my moments of weakness, thinking that I still don't know how much longer I'm going to put up with some things, but at other times I find myself thinking "oh my god, how am I still here?! I did it!" As I said, my parents were always great to me, but I had that issue of wanting to please. In my head I thought I would hurt [them]... In my head my mother would get sick because of me. Sometimes families are not so religious, but conservatism is side to side with religiosity.

Still about freedom: I feel very happy when I talk to people about it because I think I could do more for the cause, but sometimes I don't have the strength to go after it, to be more activist. I find myself dealing with my internal processes a lot and sometimes I don't have the strength to do other things, but the little I can do is this: talking about freedom to people. Telling them to never stop thinking about themselves - I know it can be difficult, sometimes it's love, we think about others, but we have to think about ourselves too. We can never stop thinking about ourselves, we have to reflect "hey, is it worth it just me thinking about others and not thinking about myself? I have my life to live, people have theirs. It's not fair, it's not fair for me to only think about others, because everyone was born free; everyone has to be free." I still really want to be able to talk more about this to people because we know that there are many people who don't have anyone to talk to about these things, so when they talk to someone who understands a little of what they go through, it's a form of affection, a way of somehow expressing: "I may not know exactly, on the same level, what you're going through, but I know what it's like. I know it may not be... Each case is different, but you're not alone" I think that the little we can share with each other is really a form of affection - even though we don't know people - I think is a form of caressing their hearts.

Of course, it's important that we unite more and more, but how many people out there are super active, doing everything they can, giving their blood - like many who came before us - and then, I keep thinking that these people, when it comes to the end of the day, they must reflect a lot "wow! I'm tired, I had a very busy day, I did so much" and then they come across their ghosts; and it must hurt a bit, it must feel bad, because "okay, it's great to be there helping, but why am I not helping myself?"

I had to come out twice: the first time, in 2015, I didn't have much information, I wanted them to know that I liked boys. At that time what I knew was this: I liked boys. I wasn't attracted to girls, I knew I was attracted to boys. I felt an urge to tell them. I managed to speak, then my mother put on a show, right? Nothing aggressive, it just hit her hard - I think she wasn't expecting it, she wasn't ready. My father, who is a man and conservative - not that scumbag conservative, but anyway - he was the one who hugged me the most, supported me; I think because he's a black man. We always had more affection and, as much as he was absent in the sense of having to work a lot, we always had something like this... In fact, everyone at home has a special affection for him because he is a welcoming person; I identify a lot with him. My mother is more closed off, like my brother. So at that moment, that was it: my father welcomed me a lot, my mother not so much. After that night I felt like a huge weight was taken out of my shoulders. The days went by and I felt that there was still something left, I started to reflect "ok, I'm attracted to boys, but I never identified as one, I always saw myself living a lie", this is very strong for me. I always felt it. I always felt like I was living a story that wasn't mine, in a body that wasn't mine, in a day to day that wasn't mine, in plans that weren't mine. The days went by, passing by and it was getting stronger and stronger, the questions, the questionings, and so I went looking for information. Then a beautiful window opened before my eyes - to a certain extent, because... I was able to discover the answers and that there are people just like me, I'm not alone, there's nothing wrong with me. When I discovered these answers, it was in the same year, at the end of the year. I remember very well that at the beginning of 2016 I was already absolutely sure "that's it, that's it." But, only two years later I managed to tell them, declare myself a trans woman.

It was the longest two years of my life because... That same story: trying to find the strength to go through all that again. Fortunately I managed to do it, I talked to them again, I said "mother, father, do you remember that conversation? So, I was wrong, I didn't have much information, I ended up saying something that I didn't really identify with. So, I researched , I've met people who feel like me and I wanted to tell you that I discovered myself as a trans woman." This time, luckily, it was chilled - mostly because, even without having the courage in those two years, sometimes I gave signs to try to make them understand which way I was going. Like, I was trying to give signals so that they would understand that there was something different going on with me to try to prepare them. It's hard enough to say "mom, dad, I like boys", imagine this, that is much more complex for them. But anyway, as I said, it was smooth; my father, again, opened his arms to me, my mother kept quiet, but I realized that it was not ok for her, but ok... They never treated me badly since I started to discover myself, little by little - which is great, it's wonderful.

One thing that saddens me a lot is that even though they have already said "oh, we need some time to treat you with feminine pronouns, this whole issue", I am sad because I think a lot about the time we have here. I reflect a lot about the here and now being what we have. The present is what we have, tomorrow will be another present, but what if that present doesn't come? So, we have to enjoy the present that we have today, and why leave it for later? "Okay, is it hard for you? Okay, I get it." But is it because it's hard? Isn't it just a matter of ego? Of them thinking only about themselves and not thinking about me? Mainly because I've already made it very clear that this is something that means too much for me, so sometimes I feel really bad, hurt and sad, thinking "how much longer? What if they're gone? What if I'm gone?" I'm not a person who is 100% resolved with death, I'm not a 100% religious person either, but I have some beliefs and I believe that what we have to resolve and live here is what's here. I think people who are older, who are a certain age, it seems that they have something that passes from generation to generation. It seems that when people are in the hospital, in a bed, then they have a reality check and they allow themselves to forgive, to understand the other; I find it sad. It didn't have to be this way, why wait for something bad to happen to be human? So... I have a certain fear, I'm afraid that this will happen to me and I don't want it to happen, I want us to get along soon because I feel that I'm going to be much more affectionate, not that I'm not, but I'm going to be much more affectionate when that happens, when they put their ego aside - because I know it's ego, we know when it is - I know I'm going to dedicate myself much more, I'm going to be much more affectionate. In the meantime, we go on living normally, thinking that everything is 100% ok, but it is not.

I'm a Gemini sun with a cancer moon. I feel that cancer moon a lot... (laughs)

Writing is my way of escaping the world. I don't have much more to say about it because that's it: it's the power of expression of the word. It's an escape, it's healing, it's where I recognize myself, where I heal and free myself, too. I started writing when I understood that I was attracted to boys. I talked a lot about it with some friends, who weren't LGBT, but even today I find myself wanting to talk to my mother about a boy, but she's not open, I can't. Not that she's going to repress me, but I don't feel safe to approach her and talk like I would with a friend. And even with a friend, I don't know… I don't have that many friends and they're not all trans, they're mostly cis, so, you know? Maybe they don't really understand how it is like to be trans. Since I started to be attracted to boys I started writing, because I felt better writing and reading about my feelings - I really enjoy writing about feelings, even today, because I'm a person who feels a lot... I'm a very sensible person, both externally and internally, so writing has this mission in my life, to heal me. I'm writing, I'm healing. I'm writing, I'm caressing myself, hugging myself.

[Around discrimination] What I always had to deal and have to deal with until these days is people staring. And Im not saying that people staring doesn't hurt me, but what I can say is that what I perceive more is people looking dagger to me, like scornful looks. It's not a recurring thing, but it happens. That's it, luckily I never went through serious things, until today at least. What I find myself thinking a lot here [Bagé] - and it's a small town, we know how it is, right? Small towns, small minds. So, I'll talk about boys, again: they end up being affected because - I won't say that many, but the majority - when they feel attracted to us trans women, they can't deal with it in the sense that their family has some prejudice, so... The few times I felt something for someone were the hardest times for me; I've never dated, but if I got to decide I would have dated a lot. But it doesn't happen because of that, because they are blocked, right? They want to, but they're not going to get out of their comfort zone to, maybe, I don't know, they're not going to put their comfort at stake. What I particularly have to say about myself is this, but here in the city, a gay couple has already been threatened by a guy with a gun at a party, and it was a sertanejo party if I'm not mistaken. They exposed it and we made a protest for them. Unfortunately nothing happened, but they exposed it and everyone joined in; we had a march, it was very important, it was pretty nice.
I can tell you about other things I've heard. There is a girl who is trans - she lives close to my house and I like to talk about her because, although we don't have a very close relationship, she was one of the first trans women I saw. She used to pass in front of my house and I was silly looking at her. I still didn't have information about who I was, but deep down I knew who she was; I recognized myself in her, I liked when she passed in front of my house. Something inside me kept saying "it's possible! She did it, I can do it too." And she has already talked about harassment at work and people not being sure if she was trans and yet she was harassed. Now I remembered heavy things [that happened] here. Last year there was a travesti, I think she was in her 50s, she was a call girl and was brutally murdered here in the city. People from the community, we got organized, we held a march asking for justice for her. There was another sister who was also murdered a long, long time ago, in the center of the city, brutally too and at that time we didn't know - I think she didn't understand herself as either - but she was a female figure. She was very famous for liking carnival, she was positively marked for being a carnival figure. Many people were disgusted by that because it was so strong. At that time I don't think there was any march for her, because it's been a long time. I'm not saying it's super recent, but people started to unite just recently here.

Bagé is a small town, super conservative; for example: what we have the most here is military barracks, "agroboy" [comparable to cowboy]... So you can imagine it, right? It may seem like I'm exaggerating, but no, really. It's a much more right wing city, so we live in this impasse, no matter how much we feel... I won't say safe, but the little we feel... There are people who go out normally, holding hands and such, but there's that thing, you know? "I'm not 100% safe." I believe that people here are not sure how to express themselves, especially with these things that have happened... Being a small, conservative city, there is a certain fear.

I'm not sure, but do you know when you meet a person and... I don't know how to explain... But like, Duda, who was recently murdered, once I was passing by on the street and I think she was going to her work point. I'm pretty sure it was her. I don't remember what I was doing that day, but I know that our paths crossed and I felt I had to stop her to talk; I have this thing of wanting to talk. So I asked her more or less what it was like for her to live here in Bagé. I told her I have a certain fear of the outside world and - I think because she is an older person - she said "I've been me since I was little; I've always had big hair, my family has always seen me like this", then she said "I think prejudice is in our heads, I think prejudice is in us", something like this. I was surprised when she said that, she being a call girl with a certain age, but I think, I don't know, she must have said that because she was in a random circumstance, she didn't want to extend the talk; She wasn't going to tell me her whole life, right? Maybe she spoke for the sake of speaking, because we know that prejudice is not something in our heads. Still talking about her, she said that she has visited several cities, she had industrial silicone, she was in her mid-fifties, so she comes from a time... Although to this day there is still the issue of [industrial] silicone, of girls feeling the need [for breast implants] and end up going through the "easier" path. Then she said that she put silicone implants in another city, that she knew several cities and such, she would go wherever she wanted, very happy... She was murdered by a guy who went out with her and didn't want to pay - and he killed her. It was a guy who had already killed another woman, a cis woman, in a brutal way too.

Pride for me is when I wake up and feel that no one, anywhere, that day, is going to bring me down. Pride for me is when I shave my beard - my beard is very thick and so it's very apparent - it's when I shave it and even though I get that green stain I go out, I don't care; although now we are using masks, but before the pandemic I felt like "I'm will go out like this, this is who I am". One thing I feel to this day: I am like this, they will see me like this, I walk through like this and they will put up with me like this, and it’s not even "put up with it or flip out", it’s just put up with it without flipping out. I like to be present whenever I can because it's important for us to be present in various places. So when I'm fine internally, psychologically, it's not that I forget who I am, but I don't really care what's around me, I just think about how powerful and proud I am of myself that day. I keep thinking about everything I've overcome and can overcome.

And speaking of what I can overcome, a year ago I started to feel that I deserve much more. This city is too small for me, it's too small for my dreams, too small for what I've been longing for. This started the last time I met a guy who lived in another city. Before meeting him I kept thinking "wow, I can't meet someone from another city because I have a problem with distance. I'm very affectionate, I want to see the person now, to be there, present and the person present for me." So, I liked him. It happened that his family had a problem - in this case, prejudice - and then it didn't go forward and it shook me a lot because I was really liking him. From that moment on I caught myself thinking that I might, someday, who knows, live somewhere else because of someone. Why can't I live somewhere else? To live for me, not for someone else. It's going to be a lot more meaningful if I can do it for myself, you know? Spread my wings for real and get out of here, this small town, and see what's there for me - when I say there I mean the future, a future that doesn't have to be so far away.

I have a thing for Portugal, I love their accent and, since I was very young, I've always liked it and lately, recently, I've been looking around and I've seen that it's not hard to go there; and this has been on my mind a lot, so much so that I'm kind of wanting to plan, get a job here and try to save some money and maybe go there. If it doesn't work out there, elsewhere too. Sometimes I realize that and I'm like, oh my god! It's like I've been replaced by a clone, because it can't be me, seriously, I really couldn't imagine myself like this. Being afraid of the outside world has something to do with being a trans woman, but it's also because people here end up not allowing themselves. They end up feeding our fear by saying that maybe we don't have much opportunity and that it's too difficult. I don't want to be that person, I want to be the person who will feed the dreams and desires of others.

I don't want to grow old here, I don't want to live the rest of my life here. From now on, I feel very fulfilled by this, because until recently I couldn't even imagine myself living anywhere else. And that's it, I don't want to... I'm not going to say that this is a quiet city, but there are other places that are certainly more dangerous and maybe don't have as much opportunity, but at the moment what I can say is this: I want to spread my wings because I deserve a lot and I'm aware of that nowadays. I deserve a lot and this city doesn't have that much. I'm not a materialistic person, I'm more like, I want to have my own little place and live in peace - as far as possible, in this world. That's it, to have my place, to do the things I want to do, to do the things I like to do and start thinking about myself more; which is what I've been doing by staying away from social networks, is being very important to me because it's a detox. Sometimes we use social networks to distract ourselves and it ends up becoming an addiction, that's what happened to me. I'm fed up with Facebook, and Instagram I can put up with a bit. I like feeling fed up because it keeps pushing me further and further away. I hope I can stay like this for longer, because the internet is wonderful, it connects people and stories, but unfortunately, nowadays, what I see the most is people giving more value to superficial things and I think... I can't. I've been turning my eyes more to this: to people who connect stories, connect other people and then the universe introduced me to you! See?! And we're here and today I went to a place I wanted to go for a long time but I kept postponing, and then I went with you. That's it.

[film photography - dig/scan Lab:Lab]

Danna Nunes
Danna, 26 years old. A time traveler, trying to find my place in the world. Sowing seeds of little appreciated feelings out there. Lover and amateur of the arts of expression.

Trans woman

*essay from November, 2021, Bagé (RS) - Brazil

Project financed by the notice resulting from the Term of Consensual Commitment⁣ signed by PRDC-RS/MPF as a result of the early closing of the exhibition "Queermuseu - Cartografias da Diferença na Arte Brasileira"

This project was idealized and is made by Gabz, a trans non-binary multiple-language artist. Ser Trans is a project that portrays and also makes room for trans, travestis and non-binary people to be the protagonists of their own stories. We are seeking for representation in front and behind cameras. This project started out of urgency. Ser Trans is made also in collaboration with Lau Graef, transmasculine artist, visual arts student and autonomous activist; Luka Machado, travesti, actress, visual artist and activist; and Morgan Lemes, black trans man, screenwriter, researcher and photography assistant.
Ser Trans is autonomously produced by trans people and all content is offered for free. You can sustain this project by sharing it with friends and making a one time or recurrent donation - any value is welcome. For early exclusive access to all content, subscribe to the project's Patreon. To know click the link bellow. Thank you for supporting a project made by trans people <3

Autorretrato de Gabz  revelado por Eloá Souto, digitalizado por Lab:Lab

You may also like

Back to Top