Sheila Souza has talent on her hands. From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., from Tuesday to Saturday, she takes care of other women’s hair and works as a hairdresser in a beauty salon in the city of Sirinha, where she was born. At dusk, the scissors come out and the goalkeeper’s glove comes, with daily and hard training, looking for a replacement in the professional sports market.
Sheila Souza is the first transgender woman in Brazilian football, and she is without a club. However, at the age of 31, the dream of replacing scissors for gloves and boots is still alive and well at the Floodplain Championships in Bahia, located about 200 kilometers from Salvador.
“I managed to open a window. That, I am sure. Opening the door and keeping it open is difficult, because it is difficult to beat. I raise the flag as if I were raising a bucket full of cement, but I have resistance to holding the flag with one hand,” he said, in conversation with Modern Mina.
“I’m there, the storm may come,” he asserts, “but I hold the door and I won’t let it shut.”
Sheila finished the transition at the age of 21 and at the same time began to think seriously about the opportunity to become a professional football player. The women’s record came just over five years ago, while the relationship with the sport was intertwined in 2019, when the goalkeeper was part of Sereneha’s selection.
“I am a professional athlete and I am a goalkeeper. Currently I don’t have any clubs, but I play amateur football here in a club in the city of Sirinha. In fact, I will start a tournament at the end of May. I finished one and was a champion last month and I will start another champion in May” .
My training starts after [do expediente] And on Monday I can work out all day because it’s my day off from the salon. So it is possible to reconcile,” the goalkeeper added.
Not making his debut for bureaucratic reasons, Sheila saw the desire to have a job in the lawns embodied during the pandemic. Upon meeting with the director of the women’s football club Desportiva Lusaka, she told her story and received surprising reactions.
“They offered me a living, and in the middle of it the president invited me to be part of the professional cast. I stayed from 2020 until March 2021, when I asked to leave because I wasn’t feeling well,” he commented on his first football experience.
Since joining Lusaka, Sheila has been subject to evaluations and says she has received invitations from clubs with the possibility of playing in the 2022 Bahian Championship.
“I want to be in women’s football. Whoever doesn’t, let him fight. Hard times have made me a mature person to overcome all my transphobia, being attacked on Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook,” says the player, victim of prejudice on social networks. Nothing easy is good.
“One day a follower said that he would get silicone, huge hair and that he would change his name to be a famous player. I just told him, ‘I am a woman, and a woman’s place is anywhere you want,'” he wondered.
Sheila lives in a biased country. For 13 years, Brazil has ranked first in the ranking of murders of transgender people.
In 2021, 140 transgender people died due to pure hate crimes. The data is from the File on Murders and Violence Against Brazilian Transsexuals and Transsexuals in 2021, a study by the National Association of Transsexuals and Transsexuals (ANTRA).
So much so that the biggest difficulty I had while moving occurred away from the meadows, and more specifically on a street in the city of São Paulo. Sheila suffered a transphobic attack and was hospitalized for several days to recover from the violence.
Within the sport, after a probationary period at Vitoria, she saw the club mobilize and bring together all categories, including the male professional, to normalize its presence as an athlete. The hope now is that the unions will, in turn, normalize this situation.
“There’s a hitch in the league, because it’s still hard to understand that a trans player can be in women’s football,” concludes Sheila, who is still dividing the talent with her hands between scissors and gloves, but with the goal of definitively changing the hall across the grass.