“We’re going to break down the doors of this world. It doesn’t matter if you’re trans, a woman, Black, Brown or of indigenous peoples. We exist, and we’re going to occupy every space.” This statement from programmer Nathally Souza, 32, reflects the struggle of a professional who needs to deal with prejudice daily while living in the country that kills the most trans women and travestis, according to the 2021 report from Transgender Europe (TGEU). However, those who see the successful career she has developed in technology after graduating from Recode Pro may not realize how many obstacles she had to overcome to reap the fruits of her success.

Despite the name Nathally only being two years old, her determination, intelligence, and talent have been present for a long time. To understand this story, we need to go back in time to the 90s, when she was born in Rio de Janeiro and, as a child, traveled with her family to São Luís, in Maranhão. The daughter of a military father who was transferred to work in the city, she saw her mother face and overcome depression with the help of an evangelical church. However, she had a childhood where nothing was ever lacking at home: “My parents always made a great effort to take care of the family,” she confirms.

Although she was always treated as a boy within her family and social circle, she was very curious and liked to play and dress up like a princess. In the early teens, she already felt like living as a girl. However, everything was kept very well hidden. “I didn’t have much awareness, but at that moment, in my head, it was wrong,” she emphasizes.

And that’s exactly how it was for much of her life. Even in the late 2000s, when she decided to take the university entrance exam. Despite her liking for technology, she was also passionate about football and was therefore approved for the Radio and TV course at the Federal University of Maranhão (UFMA).

That dream of working with sports came true, and for almost 10 years, she had a very promising career in Communication. She became a sports reporter for major local media outlets, working for radio, newspaper, and the internet. At the time, she still identified as a cisgender man. “Today, I speak with great ease that I was pretending in that role,” the young woman says.

But destiny begins to change in 2018. Dissatisfied with the wear and tear of the routine of that profession, she goes through a crisis of anxiety and the beginning of depression. With psychological help, she moves forward and decides two years later to move to São Paulo to live with someone with whom she had a relationship. The idea was to invest in her own business.

However, that project that had been carefully built with investment and work was faced with a totally unexpected situation: the pandemic. During this period, everything collapsed with problems arising all at once. The dream of entrepreneurship and the romantic relationship came to an end.

Despite the bad news, those who believe that the world is made up of only bad people are mistaken. In an act of great respect, affection, and empathy, her ex-partner did not leave her alone, allowing them to continue living together. That relationship then turned into a friendship that continues to this day: “She had no obligation to shelter me, but she opened her doors to me and helped me a lot during that period,” she thanks.

Life wasn’t easy. Money was tight. Despite not showing it, the lack of a job was weighing heavily on her. She had worked temporarily as a cashier at a supermarket, but after the contract ended, she couldn’t find another job despite sending out resumes non-stop.

Then, one Sunday afternoon, while sitting on the couch watching TV, she was surprised by a commercial announcing open applications for a free programming course: it was Recode Pro. Her old love for technology was rekindled, and she thought, “Why not give it a try?”

Although some of her closest acquaintances already knew about her identity, she applied for the selection process under her “dead name”. Standing out at every stage with ease of learning, she caught the attention of the program and progressed step by step until she was accepted. Now part of the project and about to become a full-stack developer, she made an important decision that liberated her from old fears and oppressions: “I am Nathally!”

Finally, using her social name, Nathally Souza found not only a foundation in technical knowledge through Recode Pro, but also a framework for managing socio-emotional skills and their applications to the job market. Additionally, she found a safe haven in her group of peers and educators, who encouraged her in her decisions and gender transition process. “From the first moment, everyone welcomed me. I was just another student among so many people. This was essential for me. Everyone helped and respected me,” she celebrates.

Nathally not only successfully completed the course, receiving several awards and recognitions, but also secured the job she had been waiting for. Today, she is a developer at Thoughtworks. But that’s not all. This year, in addition to her work at the global technology consultancy, she accepted Recode’s invitation to teach at Recode Pro, the same project that launched her career. “It’s a way to give back to society and the project. Helping with intellectual capital is a way to help society,” she exclaims excitedly.

Although Nathally Souza’s story had a happy ending, the programmer is aware that not everyone will have similar opportunities. In this regard, she values projects like Recode Pro even more, which prioritize diversity and believe in the potential of people who are often marginalized by a sexist, prejudiced, and transphobic society.

“Today, as Nathally, this empowered trans woman, working in the job market and having a voice, I know that I am impacting other people and can help open doors. In my case, my friend, my project colleagues, and Recode itself extended their hands to me. Unfortunately, not all trans women and transvestites have this kind of support, and they end up resorting to other means, such as prostitution, for example. It’s not a choice. By highlighting these groups, maybe we can also help open the door for them to be represented,” she concludes.