My name isn’t Maria, but I will be Maria for this article.
I am a trans girl that was born several years ago in a poor neighbourhood in Brazil. My mum was too young when she gave birth to me, so my grandparents and my uncle were the ones to mostly raised me. I have no complaints about my mum, though; she was always there to support me, especially in the difficult moments.
My family could see I wasn’t like the other boys from the day I was born. You see, I was different from a very young age. At the age of five, I first asked my mum why I wasn’t born a girl. No matter my story, I want readers to know that not all girls are as lucky as I was. My family accepted me the way I was and never became an obstacle to my happiness, and unfortunately, that’s not the rule, but the exception.
As a child, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I started from an early age to be obsessed with the female body. I kept drawing feminine shapes and clothes that made them beautiful. My mum, as one of my biggest fans, once took me to a local shop to show my sketches and see if they could turn my designs to clothes. I was too young to make this happen, though, but she did try the best for me.
Growing up, I had to align my dreams to my reality.
School for someone like me was difficult. I would receive a lot of bullying both from students and teachers. My mother would often visit the principal’s office, but nothing would change. So bullying, physical and mental harassment was my everyday life.
Out of school, my neighbourhood was not a safe environment for me, either. It definitely wasn’t safe for children my age, but for me, even more unsafe. Rarely some kids would come and play with me in my uncle’s garden. There I would be safe, but the rest of the times, I would hide.
I can now tell because I have seen it, that the people who were harassing me were people who weren’t comfortable in their own skin. People who are happy with themselves have always been kind to me.
One thing that changed my life was the internet. Probably, I was too young when I found the first boy that sounded more like me online. That was the first person I talked and kissed when I was about 12 years old.
At the age of 15, I met one of my first allies. A hairdresser from a local saloon that became my friend. She has been a great support since we met, at the first steps of my transition and even till today.
Back then, I started feeling more comfortable with the goth movement. It was the first time I could colour my hair, my nails and adopt a more feminine style that was somewhat socially accepted.
When I finished school, I knew I didn’t want to live in Brazil for the rest of my life. Often your home country is not the place you can be successful, and I wanted to do better. With the first opportunity, I made it to Ireland, and I started learning English.
An issue I want to talk about is how society pushes trans girls into prostitution. I want you to understand how it works. Initially, being trans can get you fewer responds when applying for work, fewer interviews and way fewer jobs. Looking for a job these days has better chances when people refer you, but only a few people will refer a trans girl like me. They are afraid. Several times gay friends of mine said they gave my CV to their companies, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t, at least some of the times.
When people expect you to fail, you fail much faster and way louder. And who wants to refer someone that looks like a dangerous bet?
Another thing is that a trans person has two options in life. The first is to conceal their true identity, so they first succeed in life and then use the money they have from work to transition and finally see in the mirror the person they always felt they were. But it is not just the looks or the beauty of it that matters; it is also the ability to get to walk a block on the street safely without being catcalled or stared at with questioning eyes.
Both paths are challenging, but I chose the second one; to transition early in my life. I decided to live in the present. I didn’t know if there was a bright future anyway for me, so I lived as I felt that moment. I started by working on how I looked on the outside, so I am my true self.
The thing that many can’t understand is that being trans is expensive; very expensive indeed. Hormones, treatments and surgeries are costly, and they work better when you are young. Working as a kitchen porter or a cleaner will make it almost impossible for anyone to get access to the healthcare a person like me needs.
Today, I can say that after a lot of personal sacrifices, I have managed to finish my Business School studies. It was hard at times, and my choice of university wasn’t based on a personal interest but on a game of what I can afford and what university will extend my visa. Today I am happy I got my degree because it is one more step towards reaching my dream to be equally respected. This is my inner drive to keep achieving more.
So I keep going.
I’m not sure if I will ever manage to get a job in the business sector. I now work in the home care industry. I visit people that require assistance with their daily lives, and I make sure they get the help they need. My friend referred me, and I got the job. I am so thankful to her for that.
It’s also now safer for me as the people can see me the way I see myself. My transition has gone miraculously well, people on the street don’t stare at me, and the people am helping at work rarely realise I wasn’t always the attractive lady I am today. But it hasn’t always been this way.
Thank you for reading,
I am not Maria, but Maria is okay for now.