“Even though I always felt like a woman, it took me a huge amount of will and courage to fully embrace it. My fear of not being accepted led me to the conclusion that if I’d first come out as gay, then maybe people would somehow be less shocked when I eventually revealed my true self as a trans woman. The majority of people around me had no trouble with me coming out as gay at 14, however, from thereon I still had a long and terrifying way to go.
Knowing that my country, Brazil, has one of the highest reported numbers of transgender murder victims in the world is horrifying. It used to make me feel like I literally put my own life at risk simply by leaving my house. This constant fear was extremely hard to deal with, and I spent years trying to learn how to not be afraid. I was in such a vulnerable state during my transition period. In some way, I felt as if I was growing up all over again.
I’m finally at a place in my life where I feel safe in my own skin and I’m so proud of who I am. I don’t regret anything, not even for a second. All the battles eventually lead me to become the person I truly am. In the end, we all strive for happiness. We all want to feel beautiful and talented. As a transgender woman, all I’m asking is for people to respect and accept me for who I am. When I look in the mirror and I see myself - no makeup and in my rawest form - that’s when I feel the most empowered. That image of myself represents how far I’ve come, and it drives me to keep fighting.
I want the amazing LGTBQ+ community to understand that we are not the problem, we never have been and never will be. Unfortunately, far too many people refuse to accept us as part of society, but little by little, we are gaining our rights. In the meantime; please - if you feel scared, mistreated, or unhappy - never feel ashamed or hesitant to reach out for help from professionals. Never doubt yourself and the validity of how you feel. You are capable of anything you want. Do not dare quit in yourself and your dreams because someone doesn’t want you to love and feel loved. Walk past those people, head up high with a big, proud smile.”
- Jolene, Brazil