A black lesbian student at UNB - an institution at Brazil's capital, Brasilia, challenged the presence of a white man in the women's toilet on campus on December 14, 2022. The man, who now calls himself Brigitte Lucia Santos but was registered at birth as a male called Tulio Henrique Carvalho dos Santos, physically assaulted her. “Jane” (a pseudonym to protect the victim) went to the women's toilet at Darcy Ribeiro campus’ restaurant after lunch and saw a “tall, bearded man” there, who she’d never met before.
“I approached him and told him that this was the female toilet,” she told 4W, “and he said that he was a transexual woman. I denied that he was a woman, because he has a beard, a male voice and a male height.” That’s when she said that Santos started advancing towards her, in an aggressive manner. “He would have hit me if another woman had not arrived and defended me,” Jane said.
“This woman hugged me and took me to the head office so we could make a complaint. At this moment, this man left the toilet and also came to the office to report me for transphobia” said Jane. “He kept calling me ‘transphobe,’ pointing a finger at me, but I didn’t understand how I was ‘transphobic.’” Jane says that she is not against “transexual women” and has no issues with them using the female toilet, but “he was not trans.”
“That’s when I took my phone out and started filming the aggression,” Jane says. “He cornered me and tried to make me get into a physical fight with him.”
Watch the video made by Jane:
In the video, Santos starts saying: "This here, is foreseen and equivalent to racism." Jane says: "Cara, mas você é um cara/ Man, but you are a man (cara is both a slang for "man" and for "oh, man..."). He shouts "I'M NOT A MAN! THERE'S NOTHING THAT PREVENTS ME FROM SLAPPING YOU IN THE FACE! (the word cara means face here). Are you going to (beate me)? Are you going to? Are you going to? Girl (Garota)? You must respect me! Respect me! Girl! Respect me! Respect me!"
“There was a point in which he cornered me in the office and shoved me against the glass wall, and I hit my head and an arm, which still hurts.”
Jane said that she had reported him to the police and is seeking legal advice. Meanwhile, UNB has issued a note saying that they are a “tolerant and plural place, that values the richness and potential of diversity and respect for the differences."
On December 20, 2022, students will hold a protest “against transphobia” in front of the campus’ restaurant. The poster for the protest says “Libera meu pipi - Free my pee pee” (“pipi” can be translated as “penis” as well as “piss”). Jane also might lose her place as a student at UNB, as she was told that several requests for her expulsion have been filed.
According to a former UNB’s student, “Sandy,” who also wishes to remain anonymous, Santos enrolled at the university in 2012 and, after failing a topic for three times, he was “jubilado” - disconnected from the institution as a student, circa in 2019. Until then, he presented himself as a gay man who would wear clothes that are normally marketed for women, and polish his nails. During the pandemic, he was reinstated at UNB and came back self-identifying as a “trans person.”
“Before the school terminated his student registration, he was ‘the most misogynistic gay man I have ever met,’” said Sandy. “I socialized with this person for years and I experienced several situations where he was misogynistic and disrespectful. He would accuse people of violence if they failed to answer a question from him.”
“Who knew him at University also knew that he has a history of aggression from him, always shouting, or threatening to sue. He was even banned from academic groups for his behavior,” said Sandy.” She says that the “transphobia” accusations go beyond “misgendering.” “If someone (a teacher or another student) interrupts him, or has a different view on the topics we are studying, he accuses them of ‘transphobia,’ the same way like he used to do when he presented as a gay man.”
Sandy said that, currently, “it's a constant threat of a lawsuit" when someone says his former name, Tulio. “He says it’s a crime to not accept the name Brigitte because he has changed his ‘social name.’" Another student at UNB, “Laura,” has known Santos for over a decade and confirmed Sandy’s account of his behavior. Laura says that Santos is a “pornographic person” - always wearing “hypersexualized” clothes and making many people “uncomfortable.”
4W also spoke to Sara Zampronha, a UNB student who is researching women's safety on Darcy Ribeiro Campus. The research, called “(Un) Safety of Women at Darcy Ribeiro’ Campus,” was proposed to Zampronha’s supervisor after a female student was raped in July, 2022, leaving the campus’ restaurant, and another female student was filmed in the female toilet. Zampronha said that she spoke to over 800 women and has statements from several women who suffered violence at the toilets on campus. “Of 804 women interviewed, 233 female students named the toilet (as the most unsafe place on campus), including girls who identify as non-binaries and trans men.”
Despite Zampronha’s research and the evidence she collected from female students about their safety on campus, the Women’s Office at UNB held a debate about installing “gender neutral toilets” in September, 2022. At the time, Women’s Declaration International (WDI) wrote on Instagram that “women concerned with their already precarious safety” (in the female toilets at their campuses) were “ridiculed and accused of being violent” during the debate.
"I felt really sick after the debate on 'gender neutral' toilets," said Sara. "It pains me terribly working with these victims' statements and the university simply doesn't care."
According to WDI Brasil, the proponents of “gender neutral toilets” asserted that it’s “cis women” who are putting at risk the lives of men who say they are “trans.”
Update: A counterprotest by a feminist collective, Mariz, is planned as well, putting up stickers in support of Jane. But some women from the collective have already said that they are being intimidate into dropping their action. A "Twitter storm" has been also organized for December 18, 19 and 20, at 3pm (Brazilian time) in support to the female student who challenged the presence of Santos in the female toilet.
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