Two identical twin sisters in Brazil have had double gender confirmation surgery in a medical first.
Mayla Rezende and Sofia Albuquerck, who grew up in the small town of Tapira in southwestern Brazil, were born with male sex parts, but say they’ve always known they were girls.
“I would blow dandelion seeds into the air and wish for God to turn me into a girl,” said Rezende, a 19-year-old brunette studying Medicine, in an interview with AFP. “I always loved my body, but I didn’t like my genitalia.”
Though gender reassignment surgery is covered under Brazil’s nationalized healthcare, the clinics are few and far between, and the waitlist can be long.
The girls were planning to travel to Thailand for their procedures, but were able to stay local. They contracted a private doctor, with the financial help of their grandfather, who auctioned off property to finance the nearly-$20,000 operations.
On February 11th and 12th, the sisters received tandem surgeries to affirm their gender identity.
Dr. Jose Carlos Martins of the Transgender Center Brazil performed five hour surgery on the sisters one day apart.
“This is the only reported case in the world of twins who were presumed to be male at birth undergoing female gender confirmation surgery together,” the doctor claimed.
It was a long time coming for the girls, who were reportedly subjected to bullying and sexual harassment in their youth.
Brazil is well-known to be one of the most transphobic countries — though the US has its share of tragic anti-trans attacks too. Last year alone, 175 trans people were murdered in Brazil, according to the National Association of Transvestites and Transsexuals of Brazil’s (ANTRA), the most of any country.
Still, the young women praise their parents for accepting them. Rezende called their mom a “lioness,” and added, ” she protected us fiercely.” The twins have two additional sisters.
Albuquerck, who is working toward a degree in civil engineering in Sao Paulo said, ‘I’m proud to be a trans woman.” She told the French news outlet, “I’ve lived in fear of society for too long.”
When her sister saw herself after the surgery, she broke down in tears.
‘When I woke up, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “It’s something that’s still sinking in. I no longer feel that discomfort when lying or sitting down. It’s a wonderful thing.”