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24 July 2012

João W Nery (1950–2018) diving champion, psychologist, manual labourer, writer.

Joana Nery was the youngest of four sisters. In a struggle with her own body, she became a Brazilian diving champion at age 16. She won 30 medals, and had acquired a more muscular body.

She graduated in psychology in 1973 at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, and taught at the universities of Gama Filho, Hélio Alonso and Celso Lisboa.

In 1976 Nery attended a clinic organized by Dr Cesar Nahoum and was diagnosed as transsexual. The next year he underwent a clandestine mastectomy and hysterectomy from Dr Roberto Farina in Sao Paulo, and was put on testosterone. Farino considered phalloplasty for João, but Farino had been convicted for doing genital surgery on a trans woman and was still appealing.

João is considered to be the first surgical trans man in Brazil. This was the period of military government (1964-85) when such surgery was illegal, and there was no possibility of having documents re-issued in the new gender.

João W Nery was not able to work in universities, but did work clandestinely as a psychologist. He worked as a taxi driver, builder, retailer, tailor, computer teacher and masseuse. In 1984 he published his first autobiography. In 1987 he adopted the son of his second wife, and continued as his father after the marriage broke up. His fourth marriage has been the most successful.

Nery’s second autobiography came out in 2010, which led to a series of media interviews.

In his sixties, Nery suffered from arthritis, and had a lumbar spine and hip prosthesis. The last surgery led to a heart attack, but he was able to ride his motorcycle to the hospital in time for treatment.

++He died at age 68 after a struggle against cancer.


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