“I'm craving positive energies.
I'm thinking about the future.
I'm drawing on the lines of destiny to the life I want.”
Sometimes, you need just to keep at it, keep working and realize the payoff will come eventually. No matter how smart and clever you are, persistence makes all the difference. That, and a little luck, of course. In a nutshell, that describes Nathalie de Oliveira, a Brazilian transgender woman who has relied on her intelligence, determination, and willingness to see the opportunities around her to get where she is today.
And where she is today is a good place. Not only has she chased her dreams and achieved them, she has grown as a person after finding success. Nathalie is now in a position to enjoy a satisfying personal life as well as a professional career in the medical field. How did she get to this point in life?
One of Nathalie's dreams was to participate and win a beauty pageant. So, in 2013, she entered the Miss Trans Brazil Pageant. Being her first time in such surroundings, she didn't win. But she learned. She found out how to deal with the pressure, the spotlight, and the expectations. In 2014, Nathalie returned to the pageant. Once again, however, she fell short of the ultimate recognition that comes with winning. Undeterred, she yet again returned in 2015. And this time, she won. Along with it, she also received a prize, support for pursuing gender confirmation surgery. She completed her surgery in 2016 at Kamol Hospital.
The story of Nathalie's rise to success in the Miss Trans Brazil Pageant provides a snapshot of her approach to life. It also is a key to understanding the earlier hurdles she had to overcome.
Quite early on, the people around her realized Nathalie was a clever person who could accomplish a great deal in life if she set her mind to it. By the age of 17 she already had a track record as a very good student, having done especially well in school. So she took and passed a strenuous government examination to become a public health officer. She was proud of her achievement. But it also opened her eyes to the challenges she would face. At the time, it was quite uncommon for a transgender woman to be working in this area. And Nathalie's presence made some of the people around her feel awkward or, worse, even hostile. Still, this was a career Nathalie cared about and wanted to pursue. She solved her problem in a manner typical for her: she sought to become even better and more qualified. She went on to attain a university degree in nursing.
A sudden turning point in Nathalie's life came during her last year of university studies. According to Nathalie, it was then that people began to take notice of what they said was her good looks. They complimented her on her beauty. Many were even admiring. It was this affirmation from people around her that finally convinced Nathalie to participate in her first Miss Trans Brazil Pageant in 2013.
Since then, Nathalie has continued to participate in pageants, such as the Miss International Queen Pageant, where she was the first runner-up in 2016. She does so because she believes they are life affirming for her personally. They bring balance to her private life of work and study. She also takes the opportunities that pageants provide to advance the rights of transgender people and educate the public about who transgender women and men really are.
One such educational moment occurred in 2019, when Nathalie made history by becoming the first transgender woman in Brazil to compete in one of the national stages of the Miss Brazil Pageant. Miss Brazil then goes on to represent her country in the Miss Universe contest. Nathalie says of her experience that “Today, I feel that I can speak for all the people who have always watched Miss Universe [on] TV, that something that seemed unattainable has now been achieved. I want my story to serve as an example to all people born in controversial realities and dreams that seem impossible to conquer.”
Meanwhile, in her search for personal happiness, Nathalie also seems to have struck gold. And while most of her success is due to her planning, hard work, and personal inspiration, it was a matter of good fortune that brought her into contact with the man who would become her fiancé.
At the start of things, however, what was to become good luck, did not seem so at the time. Nathalie had just ended her relationship with an abusive boyfriend in 2016. This came to a head with his interference with her desire to come to Thailand for gender confirmation surgery that year. Nathalie realized that she was the person who needed to take charge of her future. Shortly after however, she found someone who would share feelings of mutual respect, her current fiancé.
A physician in Europe, Nathalie's fiancé was introduced to her only after a strange incident. He had spent some time online exchanging messages with a person who claimed to be Nathalie but was not. The impostor had used Nathalie's photographs, life story, and news clippings to create a fake account that lured people into believing it was Nathalie's site. Such “catfishing” can be dangerous. Nathalie's fiancé was caught off guard by events. But he then noticed something. One of the photos on the impostor website had a “Miss T Brasil” watermark on it. He investigated, made contacts with people at the pageant, and was able to send Nathalie flowers on the eve of one of her competitions.
Today, Nathalie and her fiancé are together, planning a move to Europe. And she has some suggestions for people following in her path. First, she says, “always follow your dreams. Then, surround yourself with people who support you and your decision to transition. And, last, research the right place for you.”