I was the queer child who didn't correspond at all to the masculine stereotypes that people wanted me to, I hated sports, I hated playing ball, I hated other kids too. I didn't have any friends, I was that annoying kid who spent the whole day inside the house drawing and I never understood why. I didn't see myself represented in girls, I didn't want to be a girl, but I also didn't want to do what the boys were doing, I didn't like them, what they represented. Then I grew up kind of stuck in my little world, you know? To the point of completely isolating myself from people. And then I got to know more about drag art. 

I've always really liked makeup and stuff, I remember that my first drag reference was actually a trans woman, right? It was Nany People, I was like "Man, this person is amazing! Damn, she says what she wants, because she's like that, you know?" Then RuPaul boomed and ok, I met drag, I met Nany People, I got to know RuPaul and then I met the drags who are more freaks, which is the style I like the most. I started to experiment too, then when I realized that being drag I could do whatever I wanted, be whoever I wanted, I realized that just being I could be whoever I wanted.

 Because I always thought that art is the most human representation of ourselves, you know? Because art doesn't have to be beautiful, it can have pain, it can be angry. Art is everything, so like, if I make art it's because I'm everything too; I can be whatever I want. So I thought "if when I am performing I can go from something hyper feminine to, I don't know, a monster, why do I have to limit myself to a box as a human being? Why as a person, and not just as an artist , do I have to fit inside something?" Then there was that snap, like, "Man! I don't have it, you know? I'm nothing like that, I'm not a man, I'm not a woman. I don't want to be. I don't want to look like a man, I don't want to look like a woman." I said "that's it, guys. Non-binary is real."

I used to think "okay, okay, I'm just a gay who doesn't want to look like a man, but I don't want to look like a woman either, or maybe I want to look like a woman who looks like a man, who looks like a woman, and so on..." then I realized  "no, but I don't want that. What's going on? What kind of wrong person am I?" I was like "okay, I'm hyper feminine, maybe I'm a trans woman", but I don't want that, I don't consider myself a trans woman... Then researching, researching, researching, I went to discover other non-binary people. It was another trip too, they're all different, so I wasn't similar to any of them, nor to the other binary trans, so…

I remember one specific person who talks about non-binarity, which is Ruby Rose, the model. Although she is not non-binary, she talks about it a lot. Nowadays I have disagreements with a certain YouTuber, but at the time it was very important for me to understand what was going on. But also, like, there are a lot of actors, for example, who don't perform exactly... because there's a lot of that, of existing a non-binarity... And people expect you to perform an androgyny within the non-binarity, and not necessarily it will happen. Like, Sam Smith, for example, is a non-binary person, and they don't perform androgyny. There's Demi Lovato too - more recent, right? Sam Smith was a long time ago... Ezra Miller... Jaden Smith was also a very interesting reference. Then talking to people on the internet forums, a lot on Reddit - whatever you want to find, Reddit is perfect. Then I thought "I'm not just gay". This was around 2017, I was in the third year of high school. I started doing drag in 2016. Man, I started doing drag under age, in high school!

My mother could already see that I was weird, that I wore makeup, she didn't give a shit. I came to her and said "mom, I'm not a man or a woman", she said "okay, my son, that's it". Really, you know? She never saw me like that either. She said "whatever you want to be, if you are a woman..." Before, we had had conversations about being gay, being bi, being... and she always supported me. So when I said that I didn't identify with either one, she said "what do you mean? It's not one or the other?", I said "look... there's men, there's women, but, for example, look at this one culture here, there are several spectrums", then I explained that gender is a thing of space and time, she said, "I get it, so that's what you are." Today, for example, she uses masculine or feminine pronouns... She looks at me and I think it comes in random mode, you know? (laughs). My father is not supportive. I never talked to him about gender identity, but when I said I was gay he got pissed off and spent a month without talking to me. We have no contact. When he found out I did drag he was even more pissed off, and when he found out I was bi he was like "my god, my son is saved", I said "darling...". I didn't want to tell him, he found out because my mother told him, I wanted to upset him. 

I thought it was awesome [he thinking I was gay]. I used to say "honey, today I sat on so many men", just to tease. Then one day my mother said that I went out with Alice, he asked who it was and she said she was my girlfriend. I said "holy shit! No! No!" He said he could have grandchildren and I don't know what. I said "it's cute... It won't happen." He has three more daughters, he can have a grandson in another way. Look at my plants, do you think I'm able to take care of a child? (laughs)

I always say to myself that the most important person in the world is me. So, it doesn't matter, if I have to go over anything that gets in my way, I will. If I have to forget, it doesn't matter. I already had this conversation with my mother, of her supporting me, I said "you chose to support me, but if you didn't I would just cut you out of my life, because I have no problem doing this with people." If you're not here to support me, it's just not going to be a part of my life. I wasn't born stuck with anyone, and I think that LGBT people learn very early that we're alone. The things I went through when my father left us and my mother worked a lot and got into a fucked up depression... I studied, worked, took courses and took care of the house, nobody helped. Especially the people of our religion, at the time, they completely shit on us. I remember that I once sold a dream filter and it was the greatest joy because I was able to buy rice and a soda; because we basically had nothing to eat, and nobody helped. It was me for me and me for my mother. I always thought about it: if in those times, when I was younger, I didn't need anyone, it won't be now that I will need it. This is the relationship I have with my father, you know? Don't you want to accept me? Out of my life. And it's not accepting or respecting like once he said "I respect you, I just don't want you with another guy in my house", I said "so you don't respect me, and you won't even have me alone inside your house, because if you're going to accept me, you're going to have to accept me the way I am, completely. Me, my drag, my two hundred personalities that come every day - you're going to have to accept me the way I am , if not, (kissing sound), go after your other daughters, because you have more", I still said "and be smart because it's always the queer one who has to choose the asylum" (laughs)"

I feel very lucky to have the support of my "blood" family, I mean, my mother, my grandmother, my grandfather... My grandfather has defended me on many, many occasions, my grandmother too. My grandmother is in her early seventies, once we were in a store and I said I wanted a shirt, then the woman said it was feminine and my grandmother said "no problem, he wants it. It's just a shirt." She accepts things easily, from my sexuality... She had to learn that sometimes I'm kissing a girl, sometimes I'm kissing a boy, sometimes I'm kissing both of them too. And it's super normal, my family treats it with great normality, but I think that those who are not that lucky can rely on friends too, right? I always say that people think about family as only "blood", and it isn't. A friend is also family, dude, like Elemar is my family, you know? Elemar is my best friend, guys! (laughs). That gay lives in the apartment below. He came here and ate half the cake I made, just to make it clear, transcribe this part! He ate half the cake I made, was it as flat as a pancake? For sure! But he ate! (laughs)

I was a very introspective child, very. My mother - I remember when we lived in Veranópolis - she used to put me outside and lock the door so I would go play in the street (laughs). I learned to read at a very early age, when I was three to four years old, so my whole childhood was looking for books, drawing... I was an artistic child, you may notice that every LGBT person has a hand in art. I was really very introspective, in high school my only friends were always the most excluded people: it was either the black boy or the fat girl... I remember in third grade I was friends with a girl who had learning difficulties; and it was always one person per class that I could talk to. I had to go to therapy to get rid of my shyness, to be able to talk to people, and I think that had a lot to do with being raised within Jehovah's Witnesses. From the age of seven, I got into what they called "Theocratic Ministry School", where they teach you how to speak in public, how to give a speech, how to talk to people - how to piss people off on Sunday mornings. Then I had to talk and I was really good at it, but I hated doing it! So, as long as I could stay quiet, I did. When I got out of Jehovah's Witnesses all I kind of wanted to do was to be quiet - and I stayed. I didn't express myself, I didn't talk to anyone, I didn't speak, which resulted in a hell of a psychosomatic mess, bulimia and such. I started doing therapy to be able to have social interaction with people, to be able to talk again, talk to a teacher, to a colleague; so much so that in the end, I think the therapist was so good I never stopped talking (laughs). It's like a tonic formula that you take so much that your appetite never shuts down. So much so that now I study social communication. Do I hate half the people? I do, but I communicate.

I have a chromosomal alteration, I am XXY, and it usually causes a lot of problems, but for some reason for me it didn't, except I kind of didn't have the full development in adolescence because of it. Hence I have neither masculine nor feminine fully developed secondary characteristics. Because of hormonal cycles and it's peaks I have some on one side and some on the other. Naturally, I never used hormones - including, we were talking about the endocrinologist wanting me to choose to be one or the other, and I "dude, no!". My mother also supported me a lot in this, because, as I was a minor, the endocrinologist said "he has to choose something, if he doesn't, you will have to choose for him", and my mother said "I won't, it's his body, he does what he wants. Do you want to take hormones? I'll support using a blocker and hormone therapy. Don't you want to take it? So you won't". I never wanted to take it, I don't think about taking it; if it ever happens, I know I will have full support, but I have no interest for now.

I find it very complicated to put things that are naturally occurring alterations as pathologies. For example, for me... I'm not a person who has problems related to that, I like to be the way I am, I like my body, I like my face, I like my voice - my voice didn't thicken because of the lack of... Like, I have a normal testosterone level for a man, but I also have a pretty high level of female hormones, so they kind of get counterbalanced and then my voice doesn't change. My height doesn't change either. I don't have any problem with my body, with my appearance - if I could be more androgynous, cause even more confusion... Crash the CIStem, you know? I would like it, you know?

I really like it - and already talking about art - to put it in art, you know? Because I draw a lot of things related to christian mythology, kind of to confront christian mythology in this aspect. I draw a lot around Jewish mythology too, Lilith is from Jewish mythology. My drag's name is Lilly T because of that; because she reversed a gender role, she didn't want to be below a man, because it's about equality. There are even some people who say that Lilith is a symbol of non-binaries, because she transcended the gender role she had, she said fuck it! There are many non-binaries who worship Lilith because of this. In fact, in some African cultures, non-binaries are considered to be kind of incarnations of deities - I think that's pretty awesome. Within art I really like to express myself like this. I almost always draw female characters, because I really like that side of female strength, but I also draw a lot of characters with dubious characteristics: men with breasts, men with vagina, women with penises, and keep going. And almost always non-human characters. I don't know why. I like macabre things too, I think it's cool to put your demons out through art and kind of facing something that made you so bad, which in my case was christianity. Sorry if there are any christians reading this, but I just don't like it.
They always put me wrong, first because men can't, right? A man can't be with another man, and until then I was a man. Afterwards, I couldn't be me, I was completely wrong because I was a non-binary person, because "God made man and woman", it's that classic "God didn't make Adam and Ivo, he made Adam and Eve." Like... about Adam and Eve? I'm right there in the middle, you know? I'm the apple, I'm more of a snake, in paradise I'm more of a snake" (laughs).

Then came this thing of having to be a certain way. If you look at my instagram there are some pictures from when I was a Jehovah's Witness, I didn't delete this album for people to see the evolution, you know? Wow, as I even mentioned in a video I made on children's day, I looked like a happy child, but I was very sad. Religion has always been something that attacked me a lot, something that bothered me a lot was the hypocrisy I saw, especially in my father. I had money, I didn't have to eat at home, I walked wherever I wanted, I had everything I wanted all the time, and so did my mother. Then my father, who was the traditional christian that everyone worships because he has a traditional family and does everything right, was caught with his lover in the company, you know? Because of that I lost all financial conditions. It already bothered me to have to be within a religion, I was planning already to run away from home when turning 18. Then, when this happened and the religion didn't support us and no one did - people literally turned their backs on us, who were not to blame - I thought "man, if this is being a christian, I want this away from me". I don't know, I don't have a... I don't believe in a specific god, but I think we're here for some reason.

[To be proud] is a high price to pay. I'm really proud of what I've become today. I'm sure that the ten, eleven-year-old José, who watched Alejandro [Lady Gaga's song] in hiding because it was a "devil thing", would be proud of the "weird" person I've become today. Of looking at myself in the mirror and feeling beautiful and liking me, you know? There were all the eating and image disorders… Until I get where I am and I like what I am. Through various relationships, and not just love relationships, but friendship, college, school, I tried to fit into a pattern that wasn't me - and then I saw that it wasn't worth it. I say it's a high price to pay because we end up getting very lonely, but between being lonely and loving me, or not loving me to have someone who sees me as an idealized mold, I prefer to be alone. And really, I'm very proud of the person I've become today.

I think I would like to see myself... if I were a kid, to see someone like me. I didn't have much reference, I think that's why I like Gaga so much, because it was the first reference, and it still remains today. It's a reference for you to express yourself visually, I think appearance is a very important thing in our identity. I, for example, care a lot about appearance.

I don't want to put silicone on, I don't want to have a vagina - for those who don't know, I have a dick (laughs). But, the rest of the body modifications... I'm tattooed, I have a lot of piercings, I want to fork my tongue, point my ears: anything that distances me from a "human" standard, I want to do it. There is a sociological concept that says that we are shaped by society, even if we don't want to, we have to obey something. The less you want to obey society, the less you conform, the more changes you make, because you don't have autonomy over your body, because society will force you to do things. So body changes have a lot to do with it, you feel you're in control; I think that's why I like body modifications so much in general and that's why I'm going to do so many. We hope so. I just don't want to take my nose out, because I think it's kind of weird. Nothing against whoever did it. I don't have an eyebrow anymore, if I take out your nose... (laughs).

Following tiktok I think [the future] will be everyone without eyebrows! (laughs) Like, I think it's going to be a much better generation, because I see that a lot of teenagers and pre-teens... My cousin, for example, already has a sense of respect that I didn't have at her age. At eleven, twelve years old, I was a turd, you know? I reproduced a hell of a prejudice for people not to attack me. You understood yourself two years ago, I understood myself five years ago... It was much faster, right? Seeing models from other countries that don't treat kids like "he" or "she", I think that's very important. Like neutral pronouns, I was quite reluctant, it was something I didn't like. I was very prejudiced, asking why to use this, thinking it was nonsense, but I think that with time it will be something that will happen. And I think it's important for the future, for new generations. I think the trend is... Like, if there isn't a wave of conservatism, there's going to be a wave of people being who they are much more easily than it was for us, right? Because ok, I'm 21, it wasn't easy, for your generation it was even worse. Imagine for the generation of much older travestis, 40, 50 years old... Now I see teenagers aged 14, 15 already talking about being a trans woman, a trans man, non binary... Exercising gender identity and sexuality in the way that you want, and often with parental support already - something most of us didn't have, right?

Everyone has their own time. You don't need to give anyone any satisfaction. I think "baby, I was born this way" is about that, you know? You were born that way, be you! And that's it, the opinion of others will always be on top of you and, unfortunately, it's something we can't change, so just... The important thing is for you to accept yourself and be who you are. If there are people harming you, whether it's your family or friends, it's not because it's people with your blood that you have to be around, so stay away - I think that's the most important thing, like, stay away from those who don't get you up. Just walk away. I understand that there are a lot of people who can't at the moment, but when you can, step back and be you. Queen Pitty would say "even if it's weird, even if it's bizarre."

José Luiz

José and Lilly T at the same time, very proud non-binary and intersex, always filled with art and being the power of nature that will still be recognized as the future.

Non binary
any pronouns
"I never used hormones and I don't intend to"

*essay from October 2021, Santa Maria (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

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