Call me Sammy

Barbara Debout

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Sammy @Barbara Debout
Sammy @Barbara Debout

Sammy is 24 years old from Brazil, that has been living in Dublin for eight years. This beautiful brunette is a woman like any other – except for a small detail, she was born in a male body. Nowadays, transgender people are still suffering from societal discrimination. If she accepted to tell her story today it’s to drop the veil on transsexuality.

It’s sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Dublin, in the shadows, hiding from the sun, where I met Sammy. Wearing a Levi’s short and a black top bathing suit her tattoos, she catches eyes not because of her difference, but due to her feminity. It’s only after having served that she began to tell her story – paying attention to ears like a bat.

“I always knew that I was different”. This sentence was the first, which gave the tone of the interview. At four years old, Sammy previously Samuel – hated boys’ games. He didn’t like to play with toy cars or ‘Action Man’. But, he loved to play with his cousin, because she has dolls. « One day, I stole a Barbie of my cousin. I hid it in my closet; my mum finds out. She was furious », the first frustration as a child started here for Sammy. Seeing her long hair falling on her mid-back and complimenting her brushing, she explained, “I love my hair. Since I’m a child, I have long hair, but my mum was using it as a punishment. If I wasn’t behaving well, she would have chopped it off”.

When she was growing up in Brazil, she tried to keep quiet of this difference. First, she thought she was gay, but she never felt like a gay person she wanted to be a woman. Unfortunately, she already knows the future of a transgender person in her own country: “In Brazil, they (transgender people) are marginalised, they live in the street, and people don’t look at them in a good way. Most of them are sex workers because no-one wants to hire them” she continues, “It was impossible for me to think about a future like that”.

When Sammy arrived in Dublin at 16 years old, to live with her father and her stepmother that she lovingly called “mum”, she met a transgender person who had a ‘normal life’, and this meeting gave her hope, “When I first met this person, I thought: I can follow my dream!”. But, the path has been long and tough since. The most difficult part of her life was about to start at the boys’ school in Dublin.

“Boys were bullying me at school every day. They threw a bottle of water on me without a cap on it; I was frozen all day”. During all of those years, Sammy felt lonely, “People were pulling my hair, they were super mean to me”. Even if she was going to the principal office nearly every day, nothing changed, “They didn’t help me at all, they tried to kick me out of school”. Despite this awful position, she always had good grades. Unfortunately, this whole situation makes her leave the education system a few months before the end.

 The transformation

For a few years, she had two different jobs at the Dublin airport, but, most of the time she was locked up home. She began her transformation at that time by taking hormones. According to her, that was the right time, even if it was complicated with her job. She wanted to be herself, more than anything else. Thus, she went to Turkey to get breast surgery. Don’t imagine a big pair of jugs. Even if Sammy is a makeup lover and knows how to apply it better than the ‘Kardashian sisters’, she’s a discreet person.

Makeup @Barbara Debout
Makeup @Barbara Debout

This intervention is linked to the kind of torment that a transgender person can suffer, Sammy returns on this anecdote “A policemen at the Turkish airport security were asking questions like: are you a girl or a boy? in a really intimidating way – then he called his friend over, and they started laughing at me when I said: I’m a trans”.

She pursues, « Transgender people are under-represented in media, and when they ‘finally’ are, they are mocked ». Which is a beginning to explain why they are rejected by society. Sammy wants to change people’s mind regarding transsexuality, “every opportunity that I have to speak out, and to educate people on transgender issues via my own story, I take it”. She continues, “If today we suffer a lot, it’s mostly because the majority does not accept us”. It’s not the only evolution that she hopes. She also wants a better understanding of the community itself. She regrets that minorities are not fighting together against ongoing cliché for being ‘respected’.

Fortunately, during this painful past, she met someone who changes her life: her boyfriend, Brendan. They are a couple now for two years and live together. He helps her a lot to go through all the difficulties that she can have with the transformation and her life in general; she entrusts, “my boyfriend helps me to go out of the house, I feel safe with him – he gave me courage”.  Their duo is strong enough to fight in this long struggle.

Sammy and her boyfriend @Barbara Debout
Sammy and her boyfriend @Barbara Debout

This perfectionist at heart, love to play video games – especially the Sims – a game where you can create your own world and manage your life as you want to. She said, “I’m really good with computers”. Enclose in the ‘wrong’ body, it has been difficult for her to be focus on her career. But, it’s with excitation in her voice that she said, “at the end of the month, I’ll start a new IT program”.

Regarding her transformation, today, she’s waiting another twelve months to get a hormones’ prescription in Dublin and would like to raise money for a sex reassignment surgery one day. Which is essential to know through this testimony, is that whether Sammy is surrounded and try to figure out the situation as best as she can, this is not the case of every transsexual. Nearly half of young transgender people have attempted suicide in the UK because of their unaccepted differences. It cannot be stressed often enough: transsexuality is not a psychotic illness. Sammy close on this sentence, “My biological mum didn’t accept my difference, to make the life of ‘trans kids’ easier, they do need to be supported and surrounded”.

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Barbara Debout