“We never recognized” the men, said the 19-year-old Brazilian twins, Mella and Sofia, who underwent a sex change operation every single day.
Surgeon Jose Carlos Martins says this simultaneous operation of metamorphic twins is “unique in the world”. The two operations, which were performed in a private clinic in Blumenau (South), took about five hours each.
A week later, they were all smiling, cracking jokes, but sometimes they shed some tears as they remembered their childhood struggles in a body that didn’t fit them.
“I realized that I always loved my body, but I was never satisfied with my genitals. I spent my time asking God to turn me into a little girl,” Myla revealed, during a video interview with AFP.
After this surgery she cried when she saw herself for the first time.
Dark chestnut hair, long eyelashes, Myla is more full, but also more affectionate than her sister Sophia, dyed blonde hair, and subtle flower tattoo on the shoulder.
Very complicit – and very faithful – they often pray together and never run out of anecdotes about their mutual support in the toughest moments of adolescence, which are marked by physical, moral and sexual abuse.
“Our parents weren’t afraid of who we were, but they were afraid that society would abuse us,” says Maela.
Mayla Resende and Sofia Albuquerque were born in Tapira, a rural town of 4,000 people in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. One bears the name of their father, the other is of a paternal father willing to do anything to help them.
He sold the farm to get the 100,000 riyals (about 15,000 euros) needed for both operations.
“When they took (their gender identity), that was a real relief to me. For me, it was never ‘them’, it was ‘them,'” says their mother, Mara Lucia da Silva, 43.
Mara, who has two more daughters, brought Mayla and Sophia to many doctors and psychologists from an early age. Then I accompanied them during hormonal treatment and surgeries.
“I always knew deep in my heart that they were girls and that they were suffering,” she insists.
“When we were getting annoyed in the streets, our mother would defend us like a lioness,” says Maela.
The twins no longer live together: Sophia studies engineering in Sao Paulo and Maela medicine in Argentina.
– Proud of the transformation – they initially thought of having surgery in Thailand, but then discovered a new clinic in Blumenau.
This clinic, called Transgender Center Brasil, was founded in 2015 and initially intended to work almost exclusively with foreign clients.
“Most of our patients still come from Europe and the United States, but about 30% from here,” Dr. Martins told AFP.
Sex change operations are permitted from the age of 18. It can be performed for free through the public health system, thanks to the 2011 law. But only five hospitals offer this type of surgery and the waiting list is very long.
This is the reason why those with the potential prefer to go to the private sector
The number of Transgender Center Brasil customers has continued to increase, including during the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite its legislation and the existence of this type of clinic, Brazil is a far cry from being a tolerant country towards transgender people.
On the contrary, it is the country with the largest number of transgender murders, 175 in 2020, or once every two days, an increase of 41% compared to the previous year, according to the National Assembly. .
“I am proud of being a transgender woman, even though I was often scared because of the way society views us. All we are asking for is respect,” Maela concludes.