[Film photography - developed and scanned by Lab:Lab]​​​​​​​

I knew since I was a child that there was something that needed to be awakened, but I didn't know how, or what it was or why. It was in 2019, at age 16, that I had my first relationship with a woman and there was a lot in my head, it was a turmoil of emotions, thoughts and fears. Anxiety. Until then, I identified myself as a cis person, so I didn't feel so cornered about trying to find out more, accepting myself and also showing it to the world. However, it didn't last long because it was as soon as I started to really open up, to get to know who I really was, that things really started to get complicated. I started dating a woman and I started to question who I was, because I didn't feel I fitted in a relationship as a woman, in that role. I felt scared because I didn't know where to go, I didn't know what to do, I didn't have information, I didn't have people around to support me, to try to give me a solution. The information was very little, I didn't have much access to it either, so I had to go after it.

It took me a while to understand what I was feeling; it was even funny how it happened because it was simply me taking a thought, like, "a person who doesn't feel with the sex that was designated since the moment of birth", I Googled it and I found several terms in the trans sense and I thought "fuck, now things will get serious, if I really recognize myself in any of these terms...", at first I thought "I'll be very happy because I will now be meeting myself, I'm getting to know myself, who I am, at 16 years old", but at the same time I thought "Fuck, I'm screwed, I'm screwed. What am I going to do?".

[Film photography - developed and scanned by Lab:Lab]​​​​​​​

So I researched and read a lot. I searched for as much information as I could, because the information was very precarious - now that it's starting to appear, it's getting clearer, that's very good, but at the time it was very complicated. And not having people around who could help me with this process was even more complicated. Like, I had close friends, I had my girlfriend, I had people who loved me and who would help me in the best way possible, and as much as they could, but I'm talking about people who had lived through it, who could support me, offer some affection, you know? The moment I found myself [as trans] I said "ok, I am this, now what? What do I do?". I started searching, looking for movements, for social groups, groups on the internet - things that I think are very important, because the more people you have, I believe that in any process of your life, everything will become easier. You won't feel so much fear, a monster inside you talking all the time for you to stop. Like "stop, it's what you want, what you feel is right, but life from now on will be very complicated, and you won't have anywhere to run. In the end it's just going to be you for yourself and you won't have anywhere to run at that moment. Anytime you suffer any kind of violence, whether on the street or at home, you won't have anywhere to run."

I left it silent for a long time; in fact for almost three years, until early this year. Because I was too scared to reveal it, to really show myself to the world. [Also] I left it silent for a long time just to work this inside of me, so that when the time came I was prepared for it, I would be mature and strong enough to learn how to deal with it. Still, it seems like it wasn't enough, I'm so afraid that one day I'll go out on the street and suffer something [violent] that I think for the rest of my life it's never going to be enough. [In Brazil] the life expectancy of a trans person is 35 years and I'm already 20, everytime when I leave my house I'm hit by fear, I think "will I only have 15 more years of life? Is this really what I'm destined to be and live?" And precisely because of people's hatred, or because they don't accept a person to simply be who they are and who they were born to be. When I reached my limit, that I could no longer stand to hide and live a reality that wasn't mine, a truth that wasn't mine, I... There came a day when I changed all my names on social media, I didn't warn anyone and I thought "if I'm that person then I don't owe anyone any explanations. If I am that person, in the same way that people want to be treated well and are treated by their gender and name very well on the street, why shouldn't I? Why don't I deserve this?" I kept questioning and that was when I decided to change completely, regardless of what people thought was best for me or not. Until then, in almost every aspect of my life, I lived in the shadow of what people thought was right for me. Until then, as a cis person, I felt fit, so life was always very easy, and the moment I, let's say, gave up on that, that was the moment when I saw how life really is. You show yourself for real, bring out everything that's inside your heart, your chest, what you really are, [and have to] be willing for people not to care about it and try to frighten you or go over you.

In Santa Cruz do Sul it is very complicated, indeed! Many people here have closed minds, and, unfortunately, those people are the ones who can give you some opportunity to grow, in any way, whether professionally or personally, these are the people who, let's say, have this power to propel this phase of your life. So far it has been very complicated, the fear of walking down the street, of having a job interview, because every time I get to a job interview - and I believe this will last for a long time - I am be afraid of the person who I am, afraid they won't like me, won't accept me... And I've been looking for a job for a long time. We know how to distinguish people's gaze, the way they act towards us when they know the truth, and, unfortunately, the truth still hurts us a lot; it shouldn't, but it hurts. It's always been very difficult and I haven't got a job so far, that is, I can't get a job, I can't get an opportunity and if I don't get an opportunity I feel much more fearful to go after what I really believe - and that's the scenario that we still see here in the city, where people are still very closed-minded and don't seek information because they don't care. They don't care, they see us as a totally different group apart from society. Every day we have to fight to have this recognition and to be able to have recognition and grow each day so that people look at us and say "okay, so this is the person, they are like that and I'll have to accept them", you see? "Because now they are a visible person in society and I'm going to have to accept them one way or another." I didn't want it to be like that, from my heart, I didn't want it, because it's not how people normally act with cis people, where it's much easier for you to gain recognition, gain opportunities.

[Film photography - developed and scanned by Lab:Lab]​​​​​​​

Here I have a very good support network which is Ambitrans. If I'm not mistaken, they have been working since 2019 with a group aimed at trans people, they have psychological and medical assistance. I feel really comfortable and welcomed with and by them. They see you as a person, as the person you are. It's as if, when you go there and have contact with these people, you could be who you really are and do not [need] to be afraid of it. You can show the world what you feel inside - it's something I try to do every day and sometimes it seems that the more I try the harder it is.

Since I was a child, writing has always been very important to me, it was through it that I felt I could be myself. Since childhood I have never been able to make my own choices, precisely because there are people around who think that playing with boys or having a boy's game - we know that this does not exist: distinguishing games, ways of acting, of speaking, anyway... [Things that] are male or female have no difference, people are who they are and nothing should have this distinction, standard or box - we shouldn't be defined by boxes. I believe that this is mainly the thing that hinders our process of transformation and discovery within society, and even within ourselves. Because we grow up with this ingrained ideal in our heads. We grow up thinking that we have to fit in this ideal and even during and after the transition period, when you're chill, you still see yourself replicating and modeling some standards that you would not like. And writing helped me a lot in this matter, because in writing I could be who I really was, and I could express what I felt, what was in my heart, [which], since I was a child, was always something difficult to express. I knew that if I expressed this, especially as a child, I would be contradicted or they would say it was just a child's thing, because "children don't understand things, they don't know what they want from life", but I believe that since I was a child I knew what I wanted from life. And what I wanted was to work with art and it's something I try to develop every day. I want to take it from here to the rest of my life and create something important, just like this project. So that people can identify and see themselves, and have this visibility - we live in the way we feel most comfortable, that it's in our heart, we live our essence, what we really are. And writing, ever since I was a child, has brought me this perspective, writing has always been something important in my life because I felt that it was through it that I was able to pass on what I was feeling and what I didn't feel comfortable to share with people close to me. I'm not saying my childhood was repressed, but it was pretty much based on what people expected of me; on how they saw me being born as a girl and expected [I acted accordingly]. They saw a vagina and thought "it's a girl and it's going to be like that forever", they based their expectations on that. It's the writing that helped me escape this reality.
As much as I didn't understand it very well, writing was always a defense mechanism and also a way to feel comfortable and less anxious about what I felt. I believe that writing is a tool, a strong "weapon", just like rap, which has always been and will always be very important in my life, it has always permeated the social environment and everything that people have gone through and still go through today. It was through rap that I could have better knowledge about what happens in the social sphere beyond what I see, beyond what I can see. I can get a sense of how people live, what they suffer, how they are treated on the other side of Brazil or even the world, without needing to be present; and I believe that's the power that rap has, and that's the power that writing, that the words have. Words have a strong power and one thing I always say is that we have to be very careful, because it has this power and we are the ones who make meaning out of it, of whether it will have a good or a bad meaning. It depends a lot on what we think and what we want to pass on to people.

Being black is already very complicated, it's marked on you, it's literally marked on your skin from the moment you are born, so it's a burden that you have to carry from the beginning to the end of your life and there's no getting away from it - and I believe you shouldn't get away from it, you should accept it because it's beautiful. The black skin, the black essence carries ancestry, culture, very rich things, you know? Things that, if well accepted, can add and build very important and beautiful stuff within society. And this is what all black people seek every day, not only this knowledge, but also that people see the value that this has, the value this carries. Being black and trans here in Santa Cruz is complicated because it's a city, a region, where people are very closed-minded, not only in being ignorant, but it's structural, it's about being... of tradition, you know? It's something that's in the family, in many families here in Rio Grande do Sul, especially here in my city, and there's no way to fix it. We are not the only ones who suffer from racism, transphobia or whatever. Fighting to change this has to come from people, it has to come from their will, they have to understand that regardless of who I am or how I act, as long as I'm not harming you or anyone else,how I live won't affect negatively in any way the way you live. On the contrary, it can add up, as long as people are open-minded and open to new experiences and new patterns of life and reality everyone can learn a little more from one another.

To get out a bit of this reality that people show us from the beginning and trans folks know this very well; that since childhood we learned to see only one reality and for a long time we believed - and unfortunately some people still believe - that this is the only way to live. I also think that this is why we suffer a lot until we understand what we are and the path we want to follow. The moment we notice, we become aware of ourselves, we know ourselves, we manage to get out of this pattern, we manage to live in the best way possible for us. Being trans and black, that was the way I found to feel a little better and to live a calmer life here in Santa Cruz. Here things work like this: if you wear flip-flops in the city center, you can be sure that you won't be well received. If you are black, especially trans, let's say non-standard, and you have the Brazilian way, flip-flops, shorts, you can expect not being attended [on stores], or, if you are attended, it will surely take too long for you to be helped or you will be helped with lack of will, lack of empathy. You see white people being attended... I'm sure that if I were a white, blue-eyed, blond, straight guy it wouldn't be the same. If they even look at you - unfortunately this is the reality that we find being trans, and especially black, in Santa Cruz do Sul and, unfortunately, in many places here in Brazil: you have to do double the effort, triple the effort, or maybe even more to be attended, to be noticed, to be recognized. In my life I want to fight for people who live in the same or similar situations as me so they can have more comfort and freedom from now on.
I'm very proud of who I am and what I've come through to be who I am today; and what I'm still struggling with. Only I know, each one knows their own story and what the effort they had to put to get where they are today. It took me a while to recognize this, it took me a while to recognize the strength and meaning that this has for me, as well as for each one this has its meaning and its importance. We know very well the beauty standard that exists today, that people often teach us and [that] we see during our daily lives, even from people close to us. The thinner, the more beautiful you will be. The more you fit in the standard, the more beautiful you will be. It was something I noticed since I was a child, not only because of the color of my skin, for suffering racism, [but] for suffering any kind of prejudice, especially transphobia, until today. It was [important] to realize in order to accept my body I had to understand that my body was unique and that everything I carry inside of me is unique - just as what each person has inside is unique - everything is worth being expressed and put out, somehow. There will always be someone who will value it, will recognize it, that's why I think it's important for people to express their body in their own way, in the way they feel best. Because, as much as we think not, there will always be someone who will recognize and identify [themselves] and draw strength from what you are trying to get through.

I think the best way for us to change our reality is to work together, you know? We can get somewhere by working alone, but we won't get as far as working together - this was something I learned very early on. One thing that I think we have to value and give a lot of importance to is our personal [side], if we're not well and not have concrete ideas, we won't be able to pass this on, we won't have people to count on to be able to pass this idea on.

I'm not exaggerating, but this desire to want to change the world, little by little, slowly, is one of the bravest things anyone can have. We, who are trans and for a long time have been repressed by others or even ourselves, learn that being different and wanting to change the world is something that, at the very least, we have to express, we have to put forward. [We have to] create a plan with originality and without running away from our essence, to make it happen, you know? I really believe that what you do with true love, with your heart, is something that will work - and it's already working, the minute you're creating that idea in your head and it's being done with love, with the belief that it it will work and can influence other people in a good way, your own reality, your future. It's something that tends to work and is worth fighting for.

[Film photography - developed and scanned by Lab:Lab]​​​​​​​

I don't know how the situation in schools is now, especially high school, because that's usually where the most important issues are addressed. But, in my time... "In my time" (laughs), it's been a few years, three years since I stopped studying, but I don't have contact with students, people who are in high school now. At least when I was in elementary school, gender identity and sexual orientation weren't talked about... It was taboo, as much as it is today. So much so that I first entered this universe in high school, you know? In a school here in Santa Cruz where young people accept each other in a better way and, consequently, as most of them study there, others end up going there too, because they feel comfortable and welcomed and find people who will support them and make them feel comfortable. I believe that at school this is very, very, very important. Because mainly during elementary school, but also high school, one of the only contacts you will have, other than your family, will be people from the school, your classmates and teachers. And I believe there is a shortage of teachers who are prepared to deal with students, not only trans, but LGBTQIA+, prepared to deal with this with an open mind, even [to] want to deal with it to [show that] they care. Because if you don't care, you won't even be dealing with the way the other person feels; much less if you don't understand or try to understand.

I think that what professionals lack, especially in those who deal with young people, is to have an open mind, and to try to understand this side, to understand that we are also people, we are also part of society, we are not a group excluded from society; so there is no reason to treat us with indifference, but rather, to try to understand what we are experiencing, what we are going through, to try to help us in any type of situation, inside or outside the classroom. To give the best support possible. And about students who study in high school - despite being something that is talked about among students, there are some students who still have a lot of prejudice and, unfortunately, they end up generating a lot of discomfort, aggressiveness and violence. As I said before: the word has a very strong power and the influence it will have, whether it's good or bad, depends on us. We have no idea how much a word can destroy a person's day, even the week, the month. We don't know what that person goes through, what they are dealing inside, what they bring with them, what bothers them, what that person really carries inside their chest; anything we say can be a trigger for something very bad, or it may wake up very bad things in that person. So, I believe that at school this is very important to be worked on, to be addressed. In the family too.

In my family things were very complicated at first, because... I don't have much contact with my father, but I live with my mother, so I can't even not have contact with her - and, on the contrary, I'm grateful to have contact with her. I know that as much as she is a person who doesn't understand much about it, she accepts it, you know? I get it. The minimum, nowadays, is for people to respect, you don't have to accept, just respect. But the minimum is for people to at least respect. Through this they can create at least a foundation of understanding and make room for a relationship, for a better bond with that person.

Even today, she [mother] does not understand very well. I believe there is a lack of dialogue, but it's something I'm working on, for her to be able to understand better. At the beginning things were chilled, she accepted it, she didn't have... In fact, she did have a negative response, but I believe that she spent 19 years creating expectations based on, until then, the daughter she had; or at least she thought she did. To break that after 19 years, after the person has built an entire scenario of your life inside her head, I think it's very shocking. Not only within this perspective, this connection between mother and daughter, mother and son, mother and child, but even affective relationships. I believe that this has a very strong impact on that person and you have to give them time to understand, assimilate, because everyone has their time and the more you force a situation, I believe the worse it gets. You can even make things difficult for that person and for the process for you two to have a calmer and healthier relationship.

I'm not saying I understand, but I imagine - I don't have children, so I don't understand what she must be going through or what a mother or father goes through when faced with a transgender son or daughter. But I believe that it must be very difficult, especially for the mother who has an instinct of wanting to see her son or daughter as safe as possible, of wanting to protect them above all. It must be crazy that you can't control, you can't be there all the time beside your son, your daughter, making sure that when he goes out on the street everything will be fine and when he comes back he will be ok. It must be harrowing, surreal. Even before I told her that I am trans, she was already very scared because she already knew I was bi - now I'm pan - and at that moment she was already very afraid. I wonder how much that fear must have doubled by now.

She used to say that she accepted and that she got along very well, but with whom? Gay, bi and lesbian people, you know? It's much easier for someone to accept that, to say "oh, I accept LGBT people, I'm so cool", but they are just looking at some [letters of the] acronym, they seem to forget the letter T. I think these people just don't care much. I believe the intent is different, because she talked so much that she accepted, but... She never tried to look far beyond those first three [letters of the] acronym. It was when she came across the fourth that reality changed for her, because she had no idea that this fourth letter existed, that these people existed, that this reality existed. It's something you see in a lot of people these days: they say they accept it, but they only look at some people within the community, they don't look at the community itself - that's the problem, that's the biggest problem. Saying that you accept it is very easy, but accepting the community as a whole is much more difficult than it seems - for these people, right? Not for us, people who go through things know that it's not difficult at all, but for these people who only see part of the community, it's real, so much so that, when they start to come across [the whole community], the answer tends not to be very good, tends to be negative.

[Film photography - developed and scanned by Lab:Lab]​​​​​​​

I think a very important message would be to always believe, and create and foster this curiosity that you have to discover yourself, to discover what you feel about yourself. The moment I started to foster and feed this curiosity inside me I started to discover myself and I was able to reach the so far most complete and true version of myself, you know? As much as the whole world seems to be against your feelings, as much as you're not doing harm to anyone, not even yourself, don't give up on what you want, on what you feel with your heart, and run after it. As much as you may think the result is negative, you will see that it will be worth it, with time it will be worth it and when you look back and see that shy and scared person that had no hope this would work, you will not regret it.

I'm plural
I'm poetry
A universe that
destroys itself
And then recreates itself

I'm feelings
I'm acronym
that you tried to
The inside dripping in the
sink drain

Manias, copies

Trying to live the
Even in
Learning to live

To feel the heat of the sun
to the last spark
of the sunset
and turn to gray
all that
force me to perish

A lot to spend
A lot to pass on
A lot to teach
Increase expectation
of a predestined life
to fail

I hear your voice
I remember us
That distant place
The during and the after

Today we are no longer
Verse that is not romantic
I talk about my version
the one who lived at the core

Core, about perversity
They've already talked a lot about what I am
So prove your truth

I had to meet the
To learn to talk about
what is natural

Life attempt
in this real world
Where they're searching
only what's expressed
in the paper

Censorship attempt
From this early
From that time of sweetness
Where your reality is pure
And think that among all
this is the same one that lasts

I talk about love
They want my pain
They call it perverse
My internal progress
I'm sure it would be
if they saw me inside out


Passionate about art and every sincere form of expression.

Gender fluid
8 months in hormones

*essay from October 2021, Santa Cruz do Sul (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