I identify myself as a trans man, I think that is the term I like the most. I questioned this a lot because in the beginning I was like 'oh but do I wanna say that I am a man' you know... But I also see that it is important to have trans men who accept that they are trans men, also so people can wean from the image of what being a man means. I don't know, I thought 'oh, am I non-binary? do I want to affirm myself as no gender?' but I think that it is important to say that there are other types of men. I've been told that I look kind of gay, kind of fag, but anyway it is just the masculinity that I exercise, so I like to state that I am a trans man.
This is something that still leaves me very doubtful, whether I'm bisexual or pansexual for example. But I am the type of person who relates to anyone. After I came out as trans, it was something that opened up many more possibilities for me, like, maybe… I like cock too and I wasn't accessing that side, you know. And nowadays I have a relationship with any type of person, no matter their gender.
I saw myself a lot as a lesbian and I was kind of radfem so I lived in that lesbian bubble where everyone had to hate men and for me it was very difficult to assume that I might like men too. So I kind of left it alone and it surfaced after I came out trans. I think that was it, I felt kind of repressed by my lesbian identity maybe.
The 'man' that I hated - and in fact I still hate this kind of man, you know (laughs) - is the hetero-cis-normative-jerk, anyway, the type that we are used to. But I realized that there are other ways of being a man, which is not just that way. That I can relate to a cis man and it can be nice.
It was around the middle of 2018 that I… I identified myself as a lesbian until then, but when I got drunk I always came home and watched some videos of trans men on YouTube. I kept looking and liked it, but I didn't accept that I wanted that, I just thought it was cool to be researching trans men. Except that I was never telling anyone. Then there was this night that I got drunk and decided to tell a friend that I was starting to get paranoid that I didn't like my breasts and that maybe I thought I was trans, but I didn't know if I was trans because at that time I thought that for me to be trans I had to want to have a dick. Like, that was the vision of being trans that I had. And then I thought 'no, if I just want to do top surgery... have a bigger shoulder... you know, make a little change here and there... I'm not trans, I'm just a dyke who doesn't want to have breasts, that's fine' (laughs). And then my friend said 'ok, but it's okay if you want to do top surgery, want to be trans, if you are trans, there's no problem'. And then I started to question this more and more, I started to get really paranoid.
It was on another night, after a while, I think it had been about two months after that, I was questioning everything, I don't even know if I was really questioning, I was just so afraid of everything I couldn't even question it, I was just scared and kept repressing things. And then I was drunk again, with a friend, we sat at a bar and at that time I was looking at binders to buy and - at the time this friend of mine was also a girl, he came out with me - and then I told him 'I think I'm going to buy a binder'. I was thinking he was going to find it weird and he just said 'dude, me too!' you know, and then we started daydreaming together.
And we decided that we were going to be each other's safe haven and that we were going to start calling each other he and we even agreed to go to a party and that at that night we were going to be what we wanted. We would go in and we would perform the person we wanted to be for one night, me and him. And then we joined the party and we found a travesti there. She came, looked at us and immediately asked if we were non-binary. Like the travesti didn't even ask if we were girls, was it like 'non-binary?'. And then I was like 'how easy! Already? Can you say?' (laughs). We invented some names and kept talking with her and it was perfect, it was the first perfect night I had. When the party was over I left feeling a little scared because I was like 'my god, I want this out of this party too, I don't want this just inside this party', you know, 'it was perfect, I want it forever'
I thought I was going to start calling myself like that and I wasn't going to give people much explanation. I want to be called he and that's it. And some friends started to notice, they asked me, I tried explaining, but I was still very confused in this question of whether I was non-binary, transman... I didn't know where I fit in transgenderity. I made my social identity, it was the first thing I thought 'well I don't want that name for me anymore, I need to find another name'. I entered a dictionary of names and I wanted a name starting with N because I wanted it to be an easy name for my parents to keep calling me, not to change dramatically from N to Z. I was between Narciso and Nate (n_ˈeɪ_t) and I liked Nate because it was a short name, I wanted a short name, I was tired of having a long name. And I wanted a simple and different name, because I didn't want a cis name, I didn't want a name that belonged to me and a cis-straight-normative man. I wanted to be unique, you know, like "the trans Nate". But I thought 'oh but I'm in Brazil, I'm not going to name myself Nate you know, I don't want to be calling myself Nate in Brazil. Then a friend said 'what if you put an accent and do Natê?'.
I would look at myself in the mirror and try 'Natê', 'Natê?', 'Will it be, Natê?', 'Hey, Natê', you know? (laughs). I would be like 'call me Natê, let me see if I can hear it'. I totally loved that name. Like, I consider myself a kind of cute person, and I think you can say that it's a name that belongs to a cute person, you know, so I super identified myself.
Then I went after changing my social name and I was very scared because I was doing everything hidden from my parents, so I was 'my god, what if they look at my wallet and there is a card with another name and my photo'. Anyway, I did it, but then I started wondering what the next step will be, because I don't want to stop here. I went after a therapist and she asked why I was going there, and I cried saying that I thought I was trans and I wanted help because I didn't understand myself, that I wasn't accepting myself, that I didn't know what to do.
I didn't even think about taking hormones, at that time I was kind of against hormones, I even followed trans people who did top surgery but didn't take hormones and that was my reference at the time. And I would look at some pictures of hairy trans men and at that time I had a bit of a repulsion like 'I don't want to be like this'. Something that today is not so much, I have changed. I denied the hormone, I thought 'I don't want to, I'm just going to change my name, and that was it, enough, it's too much for me', you know? It’s something that I’ve been deconstructing with therapy like, like, why don’t I want hormones? Why do I have this repulsion of hormones? Why do I deny this? If I stop to think without directly denying, will it be that I become familiar with it?
As I am a singer, I was too afraid to ruin my voice. That was the worst thing. There were days when I was feeling so bad that I was like "oh god, why did you make me trans and a singer? Couldn't it be only one thing? It's hard!". It was like, really bad. I used to put it on balance "I want to have large shoulders, I want to have Adam's apple, I want a deeper voice". But I also like to sing because that's what I want to work on, you know, it's what I love to do. And then my therapist told me "but have you researched trans men who are singers? Have you seen if this is possible? Go after this information, before immediately denying it". I started researching and found many foreigner trans singers, some very few Brazilians, but I saw some people who took hormones for five years and sang very well. And then I thought "okay, I'm not going to ruin my vocal cords", you know, "it's just going to change".
I made an appointment with an endocrinologist and he said "if you know how to sing, you will not unlearn. It will only change, you will sing more seriously, your muscle will change, you will probably have to do speech therapy to work with the muscle, but if you know how to sing you don't have to worry, you will not wake up one day and not know how to sing anymore". I accepted.
So I started wanting to take hormones, which was good, because it was about time, but I also had to tell my parents, because I live with them, so there was no way I could take hormones and they didn't notice, you know, because I was going to change. And that part made me anguished, anxious, like "my god, I need to tell them", like, I don't know... I stood in front of my mother almost spitting what I had to say and then kept it, you know. So much so that I told them both when I was drunk.
Then I told them on Whatsapp, because I can't talk about serious things in person, I start to cry. I'm very sensitive, I cry very easily and I didn't want to cry you know... So I thought, "I'll tell them through WhatsApp". I sent a message to my mom first "I need to talk to you" and she replied "what is it?" and I said "nothing serious...", I kind of calmed her down before saying, because she already sent me a "what is it, are you using drugs" you know? Something kind of heavy. And I said "I think I'm a man". She replied "like trans?". Then I "yes". And she sent me "and what do you want to do? Do you want to change your name?" And I said "yes", and she said "ok, let's change your name then". And then that was kind of the conversation, she kind of understood it. Okay, I told her. But kind of nothing changed, like... Because what was going to change everything was me talking about taking testosterone. And since she didn't ask, I thought "oh fuck, I didn't say, now I'm going to have to find another moment to talk about it".
So I decided to tell my dad first. I sent him "dad, I think I'm a man" and he sent me "seriously? Wow, I always thought" (laughs). "And you want to take hormones, is that it?", I said "yes" and he was like "does your mom know yet?" and I said "yes" and he said "ok, let's look for a doctor, ok? Let's calmly research what we can do". Like, super supportive. So I made an appointment with an endocrinologist, did some blood tests. Then in the other appointment they went with me, because the doctor had asked if my parents accepted me and I said that yes, so he asked me to bring them, because the best thing is to have their support. They went with me, they were very sweet, my father even wanted to stock up on testosterone, because the doctor said that sometimes in pharmacies it may be lacking and he was already scared like "my son will have to take this every month, let's buy a lot now, leave everything stored, just to make sure". My mom was also super sweet, her biggest concern was if I was going to have cancer, you know, like, a mother’s concern, like what are the health risks.
I came home one day and my mother was watching trans movies on TV. There is one that we saw together, '3 Generations'. We saw it together, you know, she was like... She helped me a lot with changing my name too. I woke up early and she supported me with cash, so I managed to do it in one day. She saw it was a little urgent. I think the movie scared her too, because the kid was kind of, like, freaked out, and then she was afraid that I would do that too. I don't know where they got so much information from. My father I guess it's because of Thammy [Miranda]. But I helped them a lot later, explaining and such. I have always been friends with my parents.
I started taking hormones on April 2, 2019. So in a year I was trying to understand myself more and looking for references and therapy. This process of 'do I want to take testosterone?' took about 6 months. I came out at Christmas 2018, I remember I spent Christmas already openly trans, I was just out of the closet. I remember that even that was something that was going to bother me, like going to a family party and people not knowing. I thought 'no, I need to come out before Christmas'. It was the deadline I established. I was giving myself deadlines. In January, February and March I went through the process of going to the doctor, doing exams, going back there. It took three months. And in April I was able to take the first dose.
My family's parties are short, because my family is not big, and Christmas I usually spend with my father and his girlfriend, because my mother usually works for Christmas. And then I spend with him so he wouldn't be alone, and I don't even remember much, but my dad would go out and tell everyone 'you know Natália is trans, right, and now it's Natê' and he kept talking like that, he kind of introduced me at the party like that. I kind of smile with 'what? You don't have to do that' (laughs). But anyway, it was cute. My dad is very cute. He once made a post on Facebook saying he was proud to have a trans son. It was when my therapist proposed that I had a session with my father and a session with my mother to ask if they already knew about it, if they understood what transitioning was, etc. My father cried at his session and left the session very proud because the therapist had said he was a great father and a lot of other things like that. And then he put on Facebook 'I'm proud to have a trans son'. And my dad has several supporters of Bolsonaro on Facebook. My father is right-wing, but he always says that he is right-wing but he is not a right-wing extremist. For example, he never supported Bolsonaro, you know, he thinks Bolsonaro is an idiot. And he always supported me despite his political view, his friendships. And he has really stupid friends. And then I thought it was fucking great that he wanted to share something on his facebook to show his stupid friends that he accepts this, you know. I found this pretty cool.
And after I come out as trans for him, he always asks me the pronouns of my friends like whenever I introduce someone he asks like 'oh, but is it she or is it he?' you know like 'what are you?' in his rough way, but asking.
I am umbandista. And whenever I went to a session in my Umbanda center, the entities said to me 'this thing, when you discover who you are', 'you will only achieve this thing when you discover who you are'... Always that damn message of 'find out who you are' and I was like, 'yeah, I'm a musician!', you know, thinking that it was about profession... And I never thought it was about being trans. And then, when I came out, the entities stopped saying that. The last time I went, they said '...now that you know who you are,...' and I was like, 'fuck,' you know, it's incredible how we don't realize that some things may be others. I never thought I was going to be trans, really... Nowadays I really like to be trans, but I never thought I was going to be trans, you know.
And I even have a tattoo on my chest that says "LOOK AT YOURSELF" and I remember it was when I... actually, coming out as a radfem lesbian was kind of an imposition of the people I was hanging out with, because I don't know if I wanted to be that you know, I don't know if that identity represented me so much. Because everytime I'd look at myself in the mirror I didn't... Even an entity told me that I had to look in the mirror and look at myself in the eye. And when I did that, I looked at myself in the eye and started to cry. It was the first time that I looked myself in the eye and cried. And I was shirtless, I started looking at my body and I was... 'I don't know if I like this...' and then I thought 'I will get a tattoo on my chest to see if I like it', you know, make it a little more mine, get a little more intimate with this body. Then I got the tattoo, and for a while I managed to deceive myself, but today it actually makes more sense, now that I had top surgery. But I think the first insight was this you know, like, when they asked me to look at myself and I looked at myself and I thought 'I don't know if this is it', because I had never looked at myself, I had never stopped to look at myself.
I think the first person, idea or reference of a trans person I had was Tarso Brandt. It was on a comedy TV show. Super stupid, like, really, it was a prank 'the boy-girl entering the women's bathroom', which was Tarso - who at the time was a trans man who continued to call himself in the feminine and birthname, now he changed, now it's Tarso. But it was a prank of scaring women with the 'pussy man' you know. And that was the first time I heard about transgender-ness and I was like 'my god, how come a person do that?', I was kind of scared like 'my god, how does this exist', you know? 'I was a woman and became a man', I was terrified.
[Gabz's note: this program aired in 2013. Natê was 13 years old]
I remember that at school there was a travesti who studied there. She was from high school, she was much older. I never spoke to her, but I remember that it was something that scared everyone, you know, folks were like 'oh there's a travesti at school'. Not much was said about, I don’t know, in my bubble it was kind of weird, “my god people do this”, you know, there were not many trans people.
After I started therapy I started to remember everything. When I was a child I always went to the courtyard around 6 pm to play with my friends from the condo. We always played family games you know and I was always 'the boys'. I remember that day because I said I wanted to be the brother and a little girl looked at me and said 'why do you always want to be a boy in the games?' and like, it was so natural to me that it made me think 'is there something wrong with me? Because that girl doesn't want to be a boy in the game and I do'. And that question of that girl who started to stop me wanting to be a boy on the game afterwards. Then I started to force myself to want to be a girl, even though I didn't want to. And I saw that it is something that we are born with, that it is natural, no one put in my head that I should be a boy on the game and I always saw myself like this, I always saw myself as a boy.
I also remember when I was about 10 years old, that I used to go to the pool with my father and my imagination was much more fertile and I played a lot more and saw that as reality. I remember I used to walk around the pool in a bikini and I looked at myself and my imagination made me see a boy. I saw a boy in my body. My game in the water was to imagine that I was a boy. And then I realized that I was always a boy. I was never not a boy, it was always very natural for me. And I only realized it later, analyzing my childhood. And all those cliché things: I screamed when someone tried to put a dress on me, on all birthdays my mother spent around R$300 on a dress and I ran away because I didn't want to wear it, whenever she wanted to tie my hair I tried to bite her hand. And that was something that marked my mother a lot, even in therapy she said 'Natália didn't want to wear a dress, I always thought there was something strange'. My mom and dad talked about me maybe being a homosexual - at the time they used that term - since I was 7 years old… I was 7 and they were already saying 'maybe Natália is going to be kind of... gay'. What will we do if she is gay? 'like, they were already debating and I was 7 years old. Look at that photo over there. The real faggy child*, you know.
[Gabz's note: there's a term in brazil, that can be translated to "faggy child", that was adopted by queer people and is used to celebrate the ingenuity and spontaneity of being a kid].
I've always been trans, this has always been my way of being. In fact I wouldn't even need a term to explain what I am, I could just be normal to society. Because I was born this way. But for the cis society, this is being trans, this is being different. In fact, I've always been normal. Being straight and cis is so boring, do people still use this? (laughs)
Being trans in Porto Alegre... I think when I had breasts it was a little more difficult. I think I never suffered real discrimination for being trans. I suffered a lot more when I was a dyke, I think. When I was a dyke, I was almost beaten on the bus, it was really shitty. And then when I came out as trans it seems like it was a little easier, at least for me. But I don't know if it's because I used to wear binder. But my voice always gave me away, and now as I remember when my voice was thin, when I didn't use hormones, it really sucked because whenever I opened my mouth people already invalidated me. So whenever I gained passability, I was like 'ok, I can't talk', 'let's not talk', 'let's work the use of handshake... let's not use our voice, let's use another communication method'. But like, now it’s much better. There are several experiences that I will still have, like now it will become more visible that I am trans due to the scar. People will ask me maybe why I have it. For now I have not suffered as many things as I thought I would, but anyway... I am white, in my social bubble I do not remember greatest difficulties. I also hang out with very cool folks, there are a lot of trans guys, so one gives strength to the other.
The biggest problem I had was in terms of relating sexually and emotionally to people, because I always identified myself as a lesbian and therefore I dated lesbian women. But when I came out as a trans I was like… okay, who am I going to date? And now, as I look more and more like a man, it seems to make it more difficult, you know. I wonder if, like, lesbian cis women… do they want me? For me it's been much easier and more pleasant to be with bisexual cis people or to be with trans people. And I enjoy being with trans people, I think being a little more trans-centered doesn't hurt anyone (laughs).
I think now there is a lot more visibility for trans people here. In our queer bubble there's now, for example parties that are trans-free. I don't know, I stayed a long time without going to parties, but now almost all of them are trans-free. Even several restaurants are also doing this. I think more visibility is being created, people are starting to accept us a little more. I believe that 2020 is going to be the year of travestis, because people are accepting more and more and this is awesome.
People are feeling more comfortable to come out. It is a burden to keep this hidden inside for a long time, but it is also a burden to let it go. It's difficult. And I think that the more people are coming out, the more people will come out, because they will see that it is not so dreadful. I think that since I came out as trans I’ve met a lot more trans people, I don’t know if there are more people coming out now or if they were just hiding and now I'm looking for these people and finding them, you know. But I remember that at the beginning, when I was coming out as trans, I only had one trans-reference who lived here in Porto Alegre. The rest was all from the internet. And I think that was why I was so scared, because I didn't have many references, everyone around me was cis. And now I see a lot of trans people around me, like... you are one of them (laughs) because you were not trans when I came out. This is cool, you know, one being a reference for the other, because then everyone goes out of the closet together (laughs).
The internet also creates an idealization, right. You don't see the person live, they look like... it looks like you're their fan, it seems that you create this feeling of being a fan without even realizing, you know. I don't know, I follow some people from outside of Brazil that I sometimes think: ok, this person exists, I don't need to create this feeling that my god seems like I'm a fan. I also have several trans people who follow me and text me idolizing me and I'm like... Calm down (laughs).
I try to use my Instagram for example to show a little bit of my transition. Because I know two Brazilian trans guys who sing and post videos, but none post every month. I only saw posts about how the voice was after a year. And that was kind of missing for me, to know how it is each month, then I thought: oh so I'm going to do this, I'm going to record a video every month singing for trans people who follow me to see what happens, what happens every month. Maybe I'll get a little out of tune from time to time, but it will pass. It's been a project that is doing well for me and I get a lot of great feedback. Sometimes people comment on a previous video 'I'm already waiting for the next one', you know. I have friends who are like 'oh, I'm just waiting for the 2nd of next month because I know Natê's video will come out', so it's having a really great range. The first videos reached, I don't know, 300 views. Now the latter is already at 1000, 1200, it is increasing more and more. It has been good for me and I think it has been nice for people who follow me too.
In fact, my family already has musicians, so I've had it since birth. My grandmother was a lyrical singer and pianist, she broke glass at home (laughs), she had a great voice. And my father is also a musician, he plays several instruments, he always encouraged that side of me. When I was 7 he gave me a little guitar. I don't really remember when I learned to play the guitar because he always taught me from an early age. But I was always very sensitive to music, I always liked it. There is a story that my father always tells of when I went with him and my grandmother to attend an Ospa concert. When the musicians were tuning the instruments, I was very agitated, shouting, wanting to leave, crying. And then when they started playing that velvety little sound, I just leaned over in the front seat and stayed quiet the whole concert watching. And he thought it was very beautiful, I think he spent the whole concert looking at me and he was delighted thinking 'wow, Natê has a lot of sensitivity to music'.
When I was about 10 years old I always sang in the shower. Some stupid songs like Justin Bieber. And I thought 'I like my voice, do I sing well or is it just in the shower?', 'Oh, no, it must be the echo of the shower, I probably don't sing well'. But then there was a youth singing contest at my school, which won a little trophy. And I decided to participate, then I passed the first phase and my father was kind of surprised 'wow, you're interested in that, what a great thing'. And then he took the guitar, placed the camera to record - because it was necessary to send a video - and helped me. I sang the song Só Hoje, by Jota Quest, I even have the video, me singing Jota Quest with a Goiânia shirt (laughs). I put that video on Facebook - I was about 12 - and my friends had never seen me sing and everyone commented 'my god, you sing very well, wow', like everyone praising me. And I was like, 'Dad, they are saying that I sing well, do I sing well?', Then I started to think 'I sing well!'. It was a surprise for me, 'it's not just in the shower, I really sing well!' (laughs).
And I went to this singing contest and it was like a huge production and I was very scared because I had never sung in front of anyone and they put me on a huge stage. I was out of tune, I didn't know what to do, I sang very still (laughs). And I stood there... 'my God, what do I do, there are lots of people looking at me'. I was super out of tune, anyway, I had no knowledge of music, I had just understood that I sang well and that was it, you know, like, 'I'm going to sing'. In the end I didn't pass the contest, but it was worth the experience.
Then I started to discover that I could sing, I started recording some videos on YouTube. I started taking guitar lessons with a teacher who liked me a lot and was very cool. I said that I wanted to learn a song and he asked if I sang, because he wanted me to sing so he could play, so he could hear my voice. I said like 'I don't know... I sang it once and people said it was good' and he asked me to sing and he was surprised 'you sing very well, what a talent!'. He praised me a lot. Then he asked me 'do you write?' and I started to ask myself 'do I write? what if I try?'. So I started trying to write, I started making a lot of songs. And I realized that I write (laughs). This has always been present in my life, you know. I can easily compose, sing. Like, sometimes I'm walking on the street and start singing something that doesn't exist and then I realize that I'm creating and I have to get a notepad and write it down. It's something that comes… the music wants to come, I don't want to bring it to the world. It always has been like this, I never wanted to do anything else. Music has always been what I wanted to do.
I don't have any of my songs on instagram, I never got to publicize it because I've been working on a project to record these songs on an EP since 2018. I even separated, there will be three songs. And a friend of mine who played with me will record for me, he is a producer. After I finish healing from surgery we will focus on that. Because first I needed to be who I am to be able to do what I do. I wasn't going to be able to release my songs without being who I am first. They talk about it a lot. The songs make a narrative. One is from when I didn't understand myself, the second is from when I was understanding myself and the third one is 'I now understand'. They build a story. I don't know a lot of trans men in music, I know a lot of travestis, but trans men I don't really know and I think it will be great to launch this. I hope I can…. make money from that (laughs). I already thought about publishing one of my songs on Instagram just so I can see if people like it or not and if they like it to stay a little 'hm, I want more' you know. But I haven't decided yet. Perhaps. I am also very afraid to launch and other people start to make covers and then as I don't have a certain visibility, people don't think it's mine. I wanted to record professionally first and then release it and let people know it, but more for fear of plagiarizing me. It's not just a love song for so-and-so. It's me, you know.
[Gabz's note: Natê has already released his first song, watch the video clip by clicking here.]
I don't suffer something that a travesti suffers, even if we both are trans. I think the experience is different. I think that in music there are other things to be said. I think it is necessary to have trans men in music, also because the voice changes, it gets deeper. Like, having a high voice and then getting deeper. Even to be a reference for other people, I think it would be important if there was more trans men in the music.
I even know someone who lives in London and I see him posting things and it seems that there are even posters on buses saying to respect trans people, it's crazy. I look at it and I get shocked because here... Never. You will never see an advertisement in the middle of the street, on the bus, saying to respect trans people. It is something that does not exist. There are people here who don't even know what trans is, it's really a very small social bubble who knows what trans is, who respects and understands. For the cis people I know outside this bubble, it seems that I am a freak, I think that's why here in Porto Alegre we stick to the bubble that hangs out in the lower city, which is the neighborhood there that "understands". Now if you go to another neighborhood it's like.... 'Oh my god, what is this?', you know.
On the image: "Fight like a trans"
It's not easy, but it's worth it.
11 months on HRT.
1 month of top surgery.
*essay from February 2020, Porto Alegre (RS), Brazil.
This project is made by me, Gabz. I am a non-binary trans person and I seek not only to portray but also to open a space where other trans people can tell their stories, so to support our own community. After suffering a lot from the lack of trans narrative references that contemplated me, I realized that these people exist and have always existed, but for CISthemic reasons the few times we have the opportunity to tell who we are ends up being through the lens of people who do not know how it is to be us. I started this project with urgency.
I offer all this content for free, as I do not want to privilege access only for those who can pay. However, for this project to continue, I need your help. Share on your social networks! If you have financial means, you can also make a single or recurring donation. Even $1 already helps make this project possible. Help me help us!!