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.
- João W. Nery. Erro de pessoa: Joana ou João? Rio de Janeiro, RJ: Editora Record, 1984.
- Millos Kaiser. “Corpo Estranho: Em 1977, João Nery foi pioneiro ao se tornar a primeira mulher do Brasil a mudar de sexo”. Trip, 15.12.2009. http://revistatrip.uol.com.br/revista/184/reportagens/corpo-estranho.html.
- “Matéria com João W. Nery”. O Globo, 17 de outubro de 2010. Online at: www.ftmbrasil.org/2011/03/materia-com-joao-w-nery-em-revista-o.html.
- João W. Nery. Viagem Solitária - Memórias de um Transexual 30 anos depois. Editora Leya, 2011.
- “João W Nery por ele mesmo”. O babado e certo..., 28 de outubro de 2011. http://obabadoecerto.gay1.com.br/2011/10/joao-w-nery-por-ele-mesmo.html.