My name is Tainã Ribeiro, I'm 19 years old.
I identified as a trans man, because that was what made sense to me at that moment. After a while I talked to non-binary and transmasculine people and such, so I realized "no, wait a minute. I think I'm non-binary". Then I came out as non-binary. I met a lot of transmasculine people and that's where I managed to center myself. Lately I've been thinking about it a lot and I wonder if I'm gender fluid, because at times I happen to flow into a more female expression. Sometimes, many times. So when my psychologist talked about the confusion - when she talked about me possibly being confused because at times I express myself in a feminine way - it really messed me up, in a lot of ways, because I thought I couldn't find myself or that I had lost what I had found in myself before. I'm discovering myself, every day is a new discovery and I think this isn't just about my gender identity, it's about discovering things I like, everything. Everyday, everything is a new discovery.
I remember asking myself "why do I have to act in a way where I'm binary if I'm non binary?" I'm non binary. I don't need to be super manly so I, I don't know I can't even explain... I tried to tell her [psychologist] in several ways that I don't want to be on hormonal treatment to a point where I don't recognize myself, I'm not obliged to follow it until reaching a male stereotype. And then she was like "okay, then what?", demanding a position that I don't have to have, you know? It didn't make sense to me. I was really scared of lying [about my gender identity to my psychologist], because it doesn't make sense... It doesn't make any sense.
This year I started to analyze this because I went through some situations where I needed positive reinforcement, up close support from non-binary trans people. I noticed there aren't many people around here. I was in need of finding myself, finding people like me so I could feel comfortable, because the time when I felt comfortable had passed, you know? Sometimes it felt like everything that surrounded me was binary and that made me weird because I couldn't express myself. I was afraid to express myself here because of binary people, I was afraid to come out as a trans person, because I only saw people that fit a certain standard. I was very afraid, in many ways. I was afraid to say that I was a trans person because I was black, I was weird about being a fat person, too. I saw only people who fit a standard before, you know? Everyone praised the standard, and I felt weird that I wasn't standard. Afterwards I found similar people, the references were really important to me because I could feel light and not be afraid to say "I'm a trans person and I'm a racialized person".
I remember that the first time I saw a trans POC, I felt very, very, very, very eager to meet him and understand what he was talking about, because it was the same thing I was going through - it was Caleb , he's amazing, I haven't lost touch with him. I always tell him that he was very important to me because of that. From there on, I got to know several other people. Along with when I came out, along with being in touch with non-binary people... The first non-binary person I talked to was indigenous and that person gave me a head up about my ethnicity, about non-binarity, so this person is very important to me. I still carry them with great affection, because they taught me things. I got to know a lot about myself after I met this person and this contact is important. Now, lately, I've been getting in touch with more non-binary indigenous people; which is great. I think society itself has a label - something like a label - where it seems like they make everything [else] invisible. It seems that an indigenous person has no space to be anything else, except what society thinks they have to be, and, with that we can bring the fact that there are people who think that indigenous people cannot be trans or gay or lesbian; I've been through that and I kept thinking about how this could be happening, it's a person, like any other. It's weird to think about labels and stuff. It's easier for me to feel welcomed by people who are also indigenous and trans, I know what they go through together with me - then I can feel a little more free.
Because we are talking about being indigenous, I feel comfortable to talk a little bit about my [ancestral] retaking, since, like, I started my retaking last year and that helped me find myself more as a person. Everything changes after the retaking, you have contact with yourself and you can perceive yourself as a person, understand your purpose, what you are. I don't just mean ancestral retaking, I mean retaking of oneself, too. I think because I didn't have an opportunity to get to know myself as time went on, it seems like I'm just starting to have access to it now and I've learned about what I like, learned about myself, learned to love myself, you know? This all came with my retaking; I was able to take some time just for me and found out a lot about myself. Things that, if it were a while ago, I would have been feeling insecure and embarrassed to say or do or show. Along with the retake, I went back to playing guitar, for example. I went back to focusing on myself, liking and understanding why I like myself. Noticing my features, noticing my body and liking it - I didn't have that before, I felt... Sometimes I felt disgusted with myself. With that and as time went by, I stopped, I realized "but why did I think this? Why did I find it ugly if it is beautiful?" And, I don't know, I don't really know how to explain... I felt intense connections, it was as if I had the opportunity to get to know myself from the inside and bring myself from the inside out.
Nowadays I'm proud of myself, I can look in the mirror and say "Wow! How beautiful I am!" (laughs), or "how beautiful I find that about me." Then, with my retake, I learned to like my body and focus on it, saying "wow, what a cute skinfold" or "what a cute body hair", and, like, sometimes it doesn't work, or sometimes it happens that I am feeling bad and "oh, there's no way", but afterwards I realize it was just paranoia, it wasn't very serious. Nowadays I am proud to say that I love myself and that I like myself, that I like my body, that I like what I do and how I express myself.
I've been kind of connected to art since I was young, and that's interesting, but I had to retake that too, because things happened and I was stuck for a long time. It was a whole process of coming back, a path until I could understand what I liked, since I didn't sing and play much guitar before, I didn't have many opportunities - after a while I lost opportunities - and nobody believed that I sang; so now i'm producing my EP, working on my things, creating a certain love for my voice, something I didn't have before.
I can adapt to new things and various areas of art, not just music; this came over time, it's about perception, I was like "hmm, I made a drawing and I think it's cool, I'll become a sketch artist", then I was like "no, I'm not going to do just that". When I realized, I was in several areas, every place there was a little bit of me and that's so good! It's good to think that I didn't stop, something bad happened, it passed and then I came back.
I sing, play, act, perform, write... Oh, I think that's it, basically (laughs). And everything is always connected. As I'm very mixed (laughs) and I like to experiment with various things, I really wanted my EP not to be only one thing so it has a lot of references: mpb, jazz, soul, samba... and that's it, basically. It's where I find myself. This EP is born from improvising - I think I like improvising. I played, I created the bases, I created the music and I'm doing it little by little. I think this EP will... I'm not saying it's going to show what I know to other people, but I was very shy and it's the first time I'll be opening myself to more people; I'm pretty shy. I found myself a lot in other people's songs and so I want people to be able to do that too: I want someone to find themselves in what I sing or in what I say.
My family is complicated. I feel that only now my family is starting to trust I'm certain about what I want; my family is my mother and my sisters. My sister respects me, my mom takes a back seat, like "but are you sure?" or she says "I'm really afraid that you'll have a hard time with this", and sometimes it's difficult to understand her, because she comes up with, I don't know... prejudice. But it's just with me and that makes me feel weird, because when going outside she is like "I accept all trans people and I understand them", but with me she's like "not you". When I was about 17 or 18 years old, I could say that I only felt free after leaving my house, that [outside] was the only place where I felt free, when I would go to school and they would call me by the right pronouns and my social name. Over time my house became a safe place too. My mom takes a few steps that make me proud, of course, but sometimes it's not enough.
I was very young, I was 6 or 7 years old [when I realized I was a trans person]. And because I was like "okay, but is that it?" and trying to meet people to know I wasn't alone, I came out at 16. I think she [mother] keeps asking me if I'm sure because I'm young, I think it only has to do with this, like "but you're young and you're meeting people from the community, are you sure about that? Are you doing it because you want to?" She asked me that once and I felt very hurt, because it seems that, in her mind, I was being influenced by other people, and that makes me feel strange about her. Lately I've seen that my mother demands a stance from me, like "okay, what about college? And this? And that?", she's always asking me for something and I get a little weird about it. Lately she has shown more support and sometimes she says "I'm happy about this, I'm glad you're okay, you're finding your place", but then later she says something that makes me sad, but... I think it's a process for her, too. I hope she can understand everything about me and be chilled with everything about me.
I believe that my experience as a trans person in Pelotas is pretty much based on a search, you know? A search for people like me, who have gone through the same things as me and who understand my standpoint. It's kind of hard to find what you're looking for in Pelotas, but it's not impossible either. For defense reasons I entered a bubble to fit in. And here it wasn't much different. Nowadays I prefer to be alone to be able to keep my mind sane. Because… Often I couldn't find what I was looking for here in Pelotas. I wanted to meet people similar to me - physically similar to me. I wanted to find a racialized, fat, non-binary person. As time went on, it seemed like it was getting harder to find that, you know? At a level that I was repressing myself, at a level where I was alone in my head. I won't say that I don't suffer from feeling lonely sometimes here in Pelotas. It's an amazing city. And calm, you know, for us. But not so calm. And it's a quest, you know? A quest to find yourself. And to feel good. It's comfortable. You just have to be willing.
I'm a trans person with a pussy, neurodiverse, multi-artist and indigenous in retake.
I'm a trans person with a pussy, neurodiverse, multi-artist and indigenous in retake.
*essay from November 2021, Capão do Leão (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.
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