Nowadays I identify myself as a trans woman, a travesti. I also think about non-binarity because, as trans people, I don't believe there is binarity, you know? So I don't know exactly where I am in this place. Sometimes I even prefer to be called a travesti because I think it makes sense, it's the way they see me on the street.

I feel that the whole thing about the transition and mainly about the identification has been going on since ever. I know this is silly to say, but I remember in my childhood thinking, feeling that the idea of womanhood made sense, you know? Of this "being a woman", of looking at the women in my life and saying "this is it, I want to be this". Because it didn’t seem, in my childhood, that there was any difference between what I can and what I cannot be - until the moment I started having problems with family members. My father was the worst, who made it clear "you can't walk like this, you can't do this, you can't do that" and then they started to repress me. At some point it stopped being just an external movement - someone repressing me - and I started to be careful so not to do these things because I knew it was wrong. I feel like I took this for many years… I'm 23 years old and I don't even know how old I started to transition, but I remember that before starting the transition I felt like fulfilling a role - "I have to be with a certain person to to prove that I am a man", "I have to do this to prove that I am a man". I always felt very uncomfortable. Sometimes even with silly things like women's clothing, I would look and be like "wow, it's just so perfect, but I can't do that", you know? At some point having to block these things became very natural.

For a long time I forgot that there was another reality, until I started to see trans people in places, I started to meet trans people. And then it was like "oh so it's possible to be, to exist here". And I remember being a little afraid to approach them because I knew about this identification thing, I had a lot of interest in being there, but also a lot of fear of suddenly changing my whole life. Too much pressure. I felt that I needed to make a conscious effort to say "ok, I want to be with these people". It happened like this: I met a friend in a bar and I was like "girl, we have to make a work project together and I want it to involve only trans people, because I want to meet trans people". And she was like "fuck, yes, let's go". This work did not happen, but she introduced me to a lot of people. It also ended up that I participated in workshops with trans people. And this search for getting closer and closer to trans people created both a network of affection and, like, I don't know, a possibility of existence. There are many completely different stories and they are all connected, crossing each other by small points, even if that point is just "we are transitioning.

I think it was in 2018 that I actually came out as a trans person, that I looked in the mirror and said "that's it, there's no way it could be anything else". But it took me a while to be able to say that I was a woman, because I felt a pressure from being in a place that was not mine and also because I recognize that even for cis women, womenhood is a dreadful place, it is a dreadful obligation. And I was afraid of assuming something that no one should deserve. But then I also realize that gender is not about these social pressures, it is much more about you than... you know? These pressures obviously exist, they cross me every day, both in the idea of womanhood and just being recognized as a travesti - if there is a difference there in the middle. But in the end we are going to go through a lot of shit. And I was just like, "fuck it, I want to be me, I need to be real to what I believe and what I am". It was like that, I'm even still learning to transition. I think it's always a process, it doesn't end. Even having to explain everyday for 300 people that I’m trans. We are always transitioning, right?
In the last year I thought a lot about how since childhood I understood myself in terms of gender. I started trying to remember things. Then I remember this story, from when I saw an anime - at that time I drew more than I spoke. And then in this anime there was a character, he did something that he became a woman. And I was completely shocked, I thought it was beautiful. I was very happy with this idea and drew it and showed it to my family. My father fought a lot with me, put a lot of pressure on me saying "you want to be a woman so we will have to do something"... Anyway, he beat me up, he wanted to punish me. I think this was the first time where I really saw... because it didn't make sense when I saw the anime, that I found it interesting, like "oh, ok, I want to be a woman then". It wasn't like that, this idea of ​​gender didn't even exist, it was just a fascination that happened and I didn't understand why. So much so that if I had understood the pressure it had on the world, I might not have even spoken to my parents.

I think this was the first moment I was like “okay, being a woman is a wrong thing”. And I remember this idea getting a little confused because I didn't know if, for example, me being a woman would be a problem or if being a woman as a whole was an issue in itself. I remember family members complaining to me, specifically fighting with me, for the way I walked, for the way I spoke. There was always a discomfort that I couldn’t even understand, because it was just “I’m doing this because it’s the way I exist in the world, it’s not that I’m trying to be something, I’m just trying to be”. I don't know exactly the specific moment in which things happened, these clicks, what is right and what is wrong, but I do know that I feel that I have been repressed in many, many moments. I feel that even today I am detaching from these places. Trying… 

I recently stopped talking to my parents, cut any ties with them because to tell the truth they don't know that I am trans. They know but they don't know... They already realized that something is happening but don't... We can't have a good relationship. Apart from them, I have a more ok relationship with a cousin, but it is also very limited because no family member of mine actually knows that I am transitioning. I feel that there is not much interest in knowing either, so… I always wanted to have this family relationship as something close because I find it very interesting for people who have it, it's a level of intimacy that, I don't know, interests me. But I don't think I have it, I feel that there is no such family relationship in my life as a real thing.

I consider my support network to be a family. In a very crazy and confused way because it's a lot of people that are together only for fun. I mean, in a kind of silly way, because in fact no one there has a bond... not that there is no bond, but no one has an obligation to be there. It's just trans people who are in the mood to be together, who like each other, that even goes beyond this place of being trans… It starts in this place but it doesn’t stay in it, it’s just people who love each other. More and more I feel that I am building this place, I feel that it even goes beyond this… I don’t think so much as a family, as… I don’t know, I think it's like a crazy intimacy, because there’s no bond, no obligation with someone else, why you’re there. I feel like it's just a very intimate relationship, very… maybe that's exactly what family means. (laughs)

I can't even explain it, it's just a place of intimacy, of really... I have no reason not to speak such a thing, I don't... you know? Like, there's no shame, it's just people talking to each other. I was with some friends in a bar and we were screaming, gossiping, saying a thousand things, a lot of dirty things, a lot of things that we did. And everyone at the bar was looking at us like "what are these crazy girls talking about?". Clearly there is a great shame of everyone around, and it's ok, there is nothing wrong with that. It's just, that's it, when we get together, we go beyond this place of living in fear - because we are already living in fear all the time. Being trans is difficult, you know? All the time... But when we get together, it's like creating a world of our own in which being trans is just a small parameter that is mixed together.

I also think about opposites. That we always need to have that type of things like "negative and positive", "cis and trans" as very distant concepts. And we start to see things through their differences. I feel that contrast starts to appear when I'm on the street and people are seeing me and I'm not a person, I'm a travesti. There is no such proximity, a normal look. It is a look at the travesti, it is fear, it is disgust, it is repugnance. And that's when people say things for me on the street. But when I'm only with trans people, precisely in these networks of affection that I try to build, this stops being an issue. Because we're not looking at the difference anymore, we're looking at each other. There's no need to stress, you know? There is just no more reason to be ashamed of doing anything, it is just that we can exist here.

I feel that being trans in Rio de Janeiro is very confusing, it can be very violent. Of course it happens, but like, I don’t see that much aggression or physical violence, but I feel that Rio is very hostile, it’s hard for me to walk on the street and not have people staring at me, talking trash - and this started even before my transition, you know? I feel that Rio deals in a very bad way with any difference… I don't know, I don't think about it so much because I'm used to living here, but I sense that when I go to other places I have more freedom, perhaps because I am in other places...

I feel that here, in the south zone, there are more people who force it to pretende they accept differences. But maybe even in the north zone, even if it is not so much these fake people pretending that they are accepting things, people there sometimes end up looking more, talking more. I also have closer people in my life that are from the north zone. Because I think there is a little more… I don't know if it is a freedom, but a truth in the things that are said, you know? If people are pretending things, they will never respect you after all. Because if those people are talking shit and I have a chat with them, I feel like they're going to get what's going on.

Dude, besides a few jokes, nothing serious ever happened to me on the street. Okay, there were already a few cars that stopped, but I just ignored and luckily nothing else happened. I only remember more serious cases when I really argued with someone - and all of them were people who were like that, who were pushing it to pretend they were accepting me there, as if they had to accept me, as if it was a big obligation... Anyway, eventually people end up showing who they are. Even being close to me and seeing what I'm passing through, they will continue to think what they want and eventually they end up exposing it in some way. But none of these cases was, in fact, something that caused me problems or anything, it was just discussions that I was like "dude, do what you want, just don't come near me".

I feel that before I was just fulfilling a role, a character. Now I see some pressures emerging about what it is to be a woman and what I need to look like, what I need to do, how I need to walk… There are some well-defined pressures on femininity, I always affirme "no, I'm a travesti and that's it"... By itself, the thing about being a trans person means I will never be accepted, I will never have this space guaranteed. So, I feel like I'm discovering who I am beyond who I am socially, when being seen on the street, when being what is expected of me. But to be creating a reality that I think is what the transition is, after all. We're just opening doors. I think it is much more plural. At the same time that it is just a place that is not really seen socially - transitioning is almost non-existent for justice, for this whole world that we live in. But at the same time, I think about getting strength in that place, I no longer have any obligations to fulfill, I have no reason to worry about that.

Talking a bit about how I started... I spent a lot of time just researching on the internet, because at the time it was in which I had access to, since I didn't know other trans people to have this exchange. So I was researching a thousand things and I was always afraid of… I always saw a lot of girls who are having many problems because they are taking various medications and such. And these drugs are not made for our bodies. I was researching for a long time and that only made me more scared, until the point where I was "ok, I will not get hormones because it will fuck things up". But then I started to meet some girls who were getting hormones and I started to understand that it wasn't like that. There are a lot of people giving wrong information, a lot of people who are not caring so much because they just want well defined hips and want it very fast. And you can do this, but it is very dangerous. Anyway, talking to these friends they showed me that it was possible to do this, some even had endocrinologists that helped them. But it still took me a long time, I really wanted to be sure of what I was doing before even going to a doctor to ask for help, you know? Until I actually came across a person that was as crazy as I was in searching for this information, and she explained everything to me. She gave me all possible information and I said "ok, I want to start, I'm going to see a doctor". And I didn't find one. Even having a health insurance plan, calling doctors, calling endocrinologists… Doctors just laughed at me, saying “what!? trans person? what is that? what are you talking about?”. So I literally called the entire list of my health insurance and no doctor saw trans people, some didn't even know what it was.

And then in the month of my birthday, on October first last year, I simply bought everything at once and said “I'm going to start it! I need to start it!”. Because I was sure that if I was kept just waiting for a doctor to show up... I think an endocrinologist is very important, but if I was just waiting for this to happen... I felt that not being on hormones was suffocating me, I wanted it for so long and I was being denied out for bullshit, it wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t depending on me. It wasn't because I had a health problem and I couldn't get started. Then I started. It will be five months now.

Speaking of how this process of having estrogen in my body is going: it's just being crazy. Because I feel like I'm really in puberty, I'm... you know? A little girl from a classic movie who stands by the phone waiting for the boy to call and is crying like hell. I feel that way all the time! I even cried because in a series that I was watching a woman got pregnant and I just cried and was like "I need to have a baby" (laughs). I was a person who couldn't cry at all and now I think I cry every day since I started hormones. Sometimes it's funny, I even cry laughing like “what's going on?”. But sometimes it's also kind of difficult. I remember that in my second week of hormones I had to take an online test and I was cooking and, I don't know, I was solving a problem at the same time that all of this was happening. And it was the first time that I saw that small anxiety triggers a cumulative factor for hormones. Because... it happens all the time now, right? This eternal PMS of being hormonized. Ah, yeah, my mouse had stopped working while I was doing that online test and that was the main factor. Because I started to cry and I felt hot, my whole body was angry. And I was like, "what's going on?", because I was able to solve things but I just couldn't get out of this place of wanting the world to end. It was the first time that I saw this PMS surfacing - I don't even know if I can call it PMS, but I do. All the time there is this vibe of little things becoming much bigger in my head. And I even think that hormones made me see the world in a different way. Because at the same time it also made me more sure of things that were already happening, you know? I was always a very emotional person but I couldn't cry. And now I can let it out. So I feel like it was already there and now I deal with it in a way that I wanted to be dealing with all that time. Not always. But I feel that there are other aspects, I'm seeing the world really differently. I feel even happier, walking on the street, looking at things and being “wow how beautiful you are!”. It seems that really... that's it, I feel like I just see things differently and I don't know if I can explain a lot about it because... I don't know, I feel that, in relation to testosterone,I didn't think much about before and suddenly things are just happening, you know?

I have now registered at the Trans Ambulatory of Niterói to do the follow-up, because I've been in hormones for five months… I'm terrified of having a problem. There is a Trans Ambulatory here in Rio too, I think they even give you the hormones. They do an awesome job, but there is a huge queue. So I was just “man, no. I'm completing five months of hormonization, I need something a little urgent". And this one from Niterói I called at the beginning of the month and made an appointment for the 24th, which was now, I just made the first appointment - they registered and gave me a blood request order.

I think that since they put us as mentally ill, then they should take care of us. It is an obligation of the government. Right? I think a lot about this non-place, we have to draw strength from it, like "okay, you're saying this so I'm going to take advantage of it". It makes me happy to see some trans boys who do the top surgery and file a lawsuit against their health plan to get the money back, because it's really an obligation - “you have to give it to me, you're telling me that I'm the problem, let's find the solution”. We have to take advantage, be smart and benefit from these false rights that they throw at us, you know? (laughs)

I think being trans is about a place of opportunity... not opportunities... maybe it is. It is as if opening up a range of options. I always think about it being in this non-place because I feel that it is an idea that in the end should touch everyone - although it touches us in a very harmful way, you know? Because this non-place is also just about you saying “I have no obligation of anything, I can exist in the world being the person I am, being the reality that I am". Because to exist in the world as a whole, regardless of being trans or not - but mainly being trans - I think it is about the possibility of you being able to be what you want to be, you know?

I keep thinking that there are so many trans people that I know and they all have such specific stories, there are a thousand other things there. Because being trans is a small part of the whole. If we take into consideration, okay, there is race, there are even differences within gender: being a trans man, a trans woman, a travesti, non binary. There are so many things existing within a single name. As if it could hold everyone there. If I'm not mistaken, it was Linn da Quebrada who once spoke about representativeness and that she didn't see herself in that place of representing trans people. On one hand, yes, she is, because she is a trans person who is appearing in the media, is working, makes music, being perfect. But in the end the only person she is representing is herself, because she has no way of representing anyone else's reality. And this is it. I think that our strength comes from there, from this difference. I feel that we are united by this difference, you know? It is not obvious. Being trans is not obvious, I think that's the thing.

I do a lot of things and suddenly I think I'm doing nothing, but right now I'm graduating in advertising, I'm in the last period, I already delivered the undergraduate thesis. Now I'm attending another course, Cultural Production, but possibly I'm going to take a leave of absence because I don't want to go to that college. I probably won't want to finish it so I don't know if it makes sense to continue. But, anyway, it's happening. I did internships in advertising since the beginning of the course and at some point I started tattooing. And I found myself being a tattoo artist because it's something that really makes me happy - it was an unintentional situation that went very well. In addition, I paint, but I never expose my art because I still didn't feel it was the right moment, but at some point it will happen. That's it, I don't know much about me, I don't think I stop to think so much. I'm a Libra too, right? I don't really like to understand anything (laughs)

When working in advertising - I worked in different publicity agencies - I saw… It's kind of crazy, people that work with advertising push things to say they are very modern, like “I'm listening" - you know, gay-friendly people (laughs) - but within the agencies what I saw most was disrespect. Not necessarily with me because I was just starting to transition when I left my last job at an agency. So it was never directed at me, I don't think they even knew what was going on. But I've heard a lot of transphobia and lgbtqphobia. People who just pretend, you know.

And in the University, at least in the one I studied, they have a big issue in acknowledging things. I would have to go through a big process to get the rights to use my social name in school because to be able to do this they demand social identity - even though it is my right to be able to do it without the social identity. But they don't care. And I just didn't want to. I'm ok with my register name on the paper. I didn't want to do it because, I don't know, maybe I'm lazy. But the people at my university, professors, everybody got it. I never had to come out to anyone, they just saw it, they saw my transition happening. How wouldn't they? I spent four years there. But I had no problems, just some stares from time to time or someone saying a little thing but I really don't think I ever had a problem. Even in relation to people staring, it's fine, it happens every day and I just don't care anymore.

Nowadays working as a tattoo artist, there is only me in the work environment, so respect has to exist before anything. It already happened of someone coming to get a tattoo and misgendering me and I was just “man, what are you doing here?! If you read my bio on insta, my name and pronouns are there. Let's respect each other or you will have to get up and leave”. But it was people that I just needed to tell them once and they understood. I feel that I don't even want to be close to a person who will not respect me, even though it is work. Okay, I know that this is a great privilege that I have, to be able to deny tolerating a person. But this was something that, after being in workplaces that were terrible, with people who had no interest in living in the real world, I was like “no, this is something I will commit myself to, here I will be respected. This is mine, something I am creating”. And even if I stop being a tattoo artist, it is something that I will definitely take with me, because I simply can't. Man, I think we work so much, everyday we spend a lot of time in the work environment and it turns out that at some point our lives become very much based on personal life, which is like what we have with friends and such, and work. We go through a lot of shit all the time, being on the street, going to the doctor and being called by the wrong name and more… If you spend your whole day at a job that's harmful to you - it also depends on whether you're doing something you like or not -, but if it's something for you to survive, you know? Are you going to have to deal with that too? What's the point? Is there a time when we can only exist?

I demand being in a place that respects me and that sees me, you know? But I know that it is also a privilege to be working alone, because I've seen work environments that… When I started transitioning, I sent my resume to some places using my social name and never received an answer. Since I started transitioning, I’ve never received a response from any publicity agency. Okay, I don't want to work with it anymore, but at some point I wondered, because I didn't have much to do. Because of the pandemic, when we had the lockdown, I couldn't tattoo so I was sending my resume because it was the only thing that seemed to make sense. And I received no response from anyone, literally anyone. I didn't get any answer because I used my social name and wrote explaining. And I have a portfolio, previous work and such and they just never replied to me.

It was working on agencies that made work with photography. But I feel that I always saw photography with affection, I don't know, almost as a hobby. Because I never feel like I'm working while I'm working with photography. I always feel like it's just fun, you know? But nowadays I don't photograph that much, I even want to go back at some point, but I'm accepting that works come and go. That's what working with arts is all about. I always see it like that, my various works talk to each other on different platforms.

I saw today on social media this trans boy saying that inside his work at Globo* he couldn't use his name, they didn't give him options. And he doesn't have his name rectified, then they use his dead name and he can't do anything about it. At Globo. And they have that soap opera called "A Força do Querer" talking about trans people, wtf?
*[Globo is a Brazilian free-to-air television network, the largest commercial TV network in Latin America and the second-largest commercial TV network in the world]

I think a lot about what we were talking before, these networks of affection, about being close to trans people. It's like the most important thing in my transition and I feel like everyone I talk to ends up saying the same thing. And I just wanted to have this before, this safe place to meet trans people. I mean, I also had this fear at first, right. It's understandable, things happen at the time they have to happen. Building these bonds is very important and we end up discovering that it is not a problem, you know? Being trans. I think we end up carrying a lot of guilt because of all these problems that we are getting - like listening to bullshit on the street. All these things that end up reflecting on us as guilt, as pain, when actually it's not our pain, we should be carrying these things, they don't talk about us, don't represent who we are. I think this message is the thing that mattered most in my life, which is “be with trans people”. Not only to be in the same environment, but to develop bonds emotionally, romantically... Trans people are here to change this world, this is it.

Something important to think about is patience. Because we can’t rush the transition. It is often dangerous to be in such a hurry. I understand that when we say "I finally see that there's a possibility" and start to recognize ourselves, we want to get there soon. We create a high expectation that there is a “there” when in fact it is much more of a process. We're here to find out. Again, talking about this non-place, we are opening the doors for these possibilities to happen.

Mainly, be with trans people, because the conversation works differently. Patience works differently when you are with these people. You start to see that they have also gone and are still going through a lot of things and they are also seeing that… At some point we end up having to see that this patience has to take place. So that's it: be patient and be with trans people.

Yu Frazão

Student of marketing and advertising, works as a tattoo artist and visual artist.

5 months on hormones.

*essay from February 2021, Rio de Janeiro (RJ) - 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! SIGN UP TO PATREON TO RECEIVE EARLY ACCES TO IN FULL ESSAYS! You can also make a single or recurring donation. Even $1 already helps make this project possible. Help me help us!

*foto revelada por Eloá Souto, digitalizada por Lab:Lab

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