Brazilian Transsexual Odyssey

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #99, Fall 2002.

We present these two pieces as originally written, to preserve the flavor
of the author?s translation from Portuguese? Ed.

I n the beginning of this century and also
millennium lots of moments and
minorities had done their
retrospective about win and lost
along their existence. And following
their tendency of verifying and
reconstruction of their existential
journey transsexual people from all
over Brazil participate
intensively trying to register in the
the evolution of
the Brazilian transsexuality.
In Brazil of the decades 60s, 70s,
and 80s, transsexual would only be
reported occasionally because of some
isolated cases that, therefore, would be
extremely important to the Brazilian transsexual
figure. In 1969 the whole nation got
to know about the Tran Brazilian transsexual
woman who decided to do this kind
of surgery. Few years later (1971) it?d be
Valdirene Nogueira?s turn to become the first
transsexual woman to do the surgery in
Brazil. Both Jacqueline and Valdirene come
into Brazilian transsexual history being the
great pioneers. But in the beginning of the
80s it would appear the great transsexual
phenomenon. Separating eras: Roberta
Close. Awaking curiosity in the whole
feminine. Transsexual started to be talked,
observed and studied in the universities,
companies and intellectual discussions on
the streets. The whole country started to
know the existence of hundreds of
people like Roberta.

Even so, there wasn?t any group
yet that was defending the rights of
transsexual people or the
understanding of the society about the
transsexual issues. That was a time of
isolation and individualism to
everyone who had this transsexual

It was only in January of 1995 that after
they?ve participated of Oitavo Encontro
de Gays e Lesbicas (8th Lesbians and
Gays Encounter) in Curitiba. Three
transsexual women made a group
named ?Grupo Brasileiro de
Transexuais? (Brazilian Transsexual
Group). They were Astrid
Bodstein, Mariana Fredrick, and
Roberta Levy. Immediately, the
new group had the very important
support of the gays, lesbians, and
travesties from all over Brazil.
The following
year (1996)
Toni Augusto, a
young transsexual boy, tried to create a ?SOS
Transsexual? in S?o Paulo. Unfortunately
this was not a well succeed try.

One year later occurred the great
?historic act? to the Brazilian transsexual
community: on September the 9th of 1997,
the Federal Medicine Council approved the
legality of the realization of the transgenital
surgery in public and university
hospitals. Twenty-five days after that the
justice authorized the University Hospital
of Campinas to do the first surgery in a
transsexual from that city. The
intervention happened in the next year
(April 8th of 1998).

Medical teams were organized to
treat this kind of transsexual issues and
surgeries were done in other cities like
S?o Jos? do Rio Preto, S?o Paulo, Rio
de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Belo
Horizonte, and Brasilia.

These were good and new time for
the Brazilian transsexual community.
Therefore, something of extreme
importance was missing: in 1995,
the actual Federal Deputy Jose
Coimbra showed to the National
Congress the law projected 70 B,
which would turn legal the transgenital
surgery and extend the
right to change the ID. This
project was approved in all commissions of the Congress.
Now-a-days, there is a hold line to go to the plenary assembly
to be voted.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian transsexual community was
acting actively for its rights conquests. In November of 1998, it
took place in Rio de Janeiro, the first encounter of transsexuals
of many states: Mato Grosso, Para, Santa Catarino, S?o Paulo,
Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande de Sul. As result of this
encounter it was decided to union of transsexual people and
group creating an ONG named Transgender Brazil, managed
by engineer and philosopher Marta C. Freitas.

The new institution, founded in January of 1999, counts
with the support of important names of the Brazilian transsexual
community like: Barbara Graner, Amanda Wosniack,
Maite Scheider, Marcia Lopes, Nancy Brantes, Silvia Tramont,
Bhrenda Santuniono, among others. It receives also the
congratulations and support of Federal Medicine Council,
doctors, attorneys, psychologists, judges, politicians, and
religious. They were the wind of conquest.
During this whole period in many places of Brazil human
and well-developed judges authorized transsexual people who
had their surgery done to correct their ID. Among them famous
Yeda Brown, known in Spanish as ?a ultima mua de Dali? (The
last goodness of Dali).

Apart of all of it in the decades of 90s it was published a
big amount of books about the transsexual issue. Great names
from many areas produced excellent facts that collaborated a
lot for make clearer the transsexual thematic. The judges Tereza
Rodrigues Viera and Elimar Szaniawski, psychotherapist
Ronaldo Pamplona da Costa, and the psychologist Gerald
Ramsey, among others, are always supporting the Brazilian
transsexual cause.

In this literary context, it?s worthy so say about two very
important books to the transsexual existence, Meu Sexo Real
(My Real Sex) by Martha C. Freitas and Transsexualidade: O
corpo en mutacao (Transsexual: Body in mutation) by
Professor Eduardo Souza Couto. The first book because your
scientific context about original causes of transsexual and
second because of its information about lots of different point
of view of this transsexual issue.

In October of 1999 an important TV station (Rede Viva)
bellows to Catholic Church made a debate about transsexual.
Dr. Jalma Jurado (great specialist in transgenital surgery
technique), Martha C. Freitas, and Father Haraldo Rahn
participated. That was a remarkable meeting for all of us.
But even with this big amount of conquests there is still
lots of things to be done for the Brazilian transsexual
community. Without any doubt, all of these pictures make us
stronger and encourage us to keep us going on fighting for full
conquest of our citizenship. The Brazilian transsexual community
is each time more certain that somebody who is not
fighting for its rights doesn?t deserve them at all...
We?ll always fight with courage, determination,
personality, and love in our heart.

Astrid Bodstein is Historian, President of the Brazilian Transsexual
Group, and Coordinator of Transgender Brazil. She can be reached at
Caixa Postal 1097, Cuib? (MT), 78005-970, BRASIL.