HuffPost Her Stories: A Trans Volleyball Star Stirs 'Unfounded' Criticism In Brazil

Plus: A feminist take on fake breasts.
Tifanny Abreu at a training in February 2018.
Tifanny Abreu at a training in February 2018.

Dear reader,

The first transgender athlete to compete in Brazil’s Superliga, the country’s top women’s volleyball tournament, is accustomed to controversy — it has followed Tifanny Abreu since she returned to professional volleyball in 2017 after transitioning.

“Before then, discussion regarding trans athletes in sports was almost nonexistent in Brazil,” HuffPost Brazil’s Andréa Martinelli said.

Abreu’s victories on the court since then have been marred by critics, who say she shouldn’t be allowed to play on a women’s team. The debate has intensified in recent weeks, after a rival coach called Abreu a man during a playoff match.

“His comment generated a lot of buzz on social media,” Andréa said. “Afterwards, he apologized and the athlete accepted. But that guided press coverage and ... also misguided information about Tifanny’s performance using arguments from biology.”

HuffPost Brazil decided to set the record straight with a story that looked at what experts say about trans women participating in sports. (As one expert put it: “Biological and hormonal criticism is unfounded.”)

The article points out that Abreu easily meets international standards for trans women in sports, and it highlights media stories that show she is a more average player than some commentators suggest.

“I believe that such articles that go beyond social media discussion fight prejudice with information,” Andréa said. “That is fundamental when a delicate issue such as Tifanny’s comes to the public.”

The comments section of Andréa’s article, however, still filled with criticism and accusations that Abreu is “a man.”

“In general, that is how the public has reacted to these kinds of questions. I believe that is why articles like this one, that explains why the presence of a trans woman in women’s volleyball still annoys some people, are necessary,” Andréa said. “In addition to guiding a discussion, it is important for journalism that it fights misinformation.”

Until next time,


For more on international standards, read the IOC’s transgender guidelines.

A general election in the world’s largest democracy kicked off this week, as voters in India headed to the polls to choose members of parliament. Their decision will determine if Prime Minister Narendra Modi will stay in power for another five years. Interestingly, campaigners from Modi’s Hindu nationalist party are targeting Muslim women and banking on their gratitude for the party’s efforts to criminalize “triple talaq” divorce. The contested Islamic practice allowed men in India to end their marriages by repeating the Arabic word for divorce three times, and it was outlawed last year. But a HuffPost India report from a Muslim-majority village in rural Bengal found that women there had more pressing concerns: Modi’s strong anti-Muslim reputation and his party’s inability to improve their quality of life. “Triple talaq ban and all is fine,” said Nazma, a 31-year-old mother of a teenage son. “But why are we so dependent on men? Because I have no job.”

The author.
The author.

More than 300,000 women in the United States got breast augmentation surgery in 2018, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. It’s the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure in the U.S. and one of the most popular in the world, with more than 1.5 million performed in 2017. Women increasingly go under the knife to repair damage from breast cancer, a market analysis report said, but plenty of others simply do it for aesthetic reasons. One of these women, a 53-year-old mother, came to the defense of women in pursuit of better breasts by writing a HuffPost Personal piece with a feminist take on the surgery. “I’ve always felt women should do what they want if it adds to their life satisfaction,” Karin Jones writes, noting that she didn’t get her own implants to please anyone but herself.

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