Meet Tifanny Abreu, the first transgender woman to play in the top Brazilian Superliga league earning her both an MPV award and condemnation. While Tifanny wasn’t sure she could play at the super league level after her transition, all doubts were quashed as she has dominated at the Wing Spiker position for the top-notch teamVolei Bauru.
Tifanny talked to oasport.it Febuary 2017 about the difficulties of transitioning as a professional athlete in Europe.
” I decided to become Tifanny between 2013 and 2014. I was tired of compromises. I did not want to go to a doctor, I was ashamed. I copied hormone therapy from other friends who were being transformed at the same time. It took time for me to understand that I had to be followed and started going to Spain regularly. However, the whole process was not easy to bear. The hormones made me nervous, emotional, fragile, depressed. I went to sleep and woke up crying.Sometimes I stopped the therapy but it was worse.”
“Facing it as an athlete is extremely complicated. Suddenly I started playing badly, getting fat, I could not jump anymore. I have always been considered very strong in the field, but when I started taking hormones my performance dropped. They laughed all the while “.
Abreu played in men’s leagues in Brazil, Portugal, France, Indonesia, Spain, France, Holland, and Belgium. In 2012, the volleyball player decided to put her career on hold and transition.
In Italy, She went through hormonal treatment to control the levels of testosterone in her bloodstream, had sex reassignment surgery and changed all her previous identification to her new name.
Soon after, she was informed she could play again.
“I took every needed step after my agent said I could play women’s volleyball. He knows the rules and said other transsexual athletes play in smaller leagues. So I decided to come back,” she said. “I am obeying the rules, it is not as if I could just say I am a transsexual athlete and want to play.”
Earlier this year, Abreu played for a second division team in Italy. While she found support, she also said she felt pressure from heavy criticism, from fans and even teammates. She decided to return to Brazil to be closer to her family, who live in the rural state of Goias.
Every third day on the average a Brazilian transgender human is shot, hanged, or burnt alive
Ana Paula Vôlei a former Brazilian player and conservative trump supporter tweeted that Abreu should not play among cisgender women.
The players are not going to (denounce her for fear of unjust reprisals, but most of them do not think it’s fair to play with women. And it’s not. Body was built up with testosterone throughout life. It’s not prejudice, it’s physiology. Why not a female selection with only trans? Unbeatable.
You conservatives bash the one transgender Brazilian who is reaching for the sky but never mention the 100’s who laid to rest 6ft underground every year in Brasil! Shame on you!! I’m also a trans athlete and while I will never be at your level I cheer those who finish after me.
— planetransgender (@planetrans) December 24, 2017
Tifanny’s team mates are thrilled and supportive of her both on and off the court.
There were nearly as many transgender people murdered within a 500-mile radius of the stadium Tifanny Abreu trains in as were murdered in the US during all of 2017.
It is incomprehensibly inhuman that people put Abreu down for competing especially since Brasil is the transgender murder capital of the world. Last year Planet Trans painstakingly documented each of Brasil’s 133 transgender murders which were committed between November 20th, 2015 and the following Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on November 20th, 2016.
This map does not include the hundreds of assaults as reported by Rede Trans which did not result in a fatality or the suicides due to the suffocating transphobia which flourishes in Brazil.