About the author: Guilherma Souza I’m a bubbly immigrant girl with trans experience who strives to make the world a better, more informed place little by little. Furthermore, being an innovator will allow me to share a little bit of my science and philosophy knowledge which is an honor. My friends describe me as a sweet kind hearted person or as the therapist of the group: Some of my hobbies include editing, gaming, dancing, and makeup.
03/21/2004 Was the day that this convoluted, shy, outrageous, intelligent strategist, technology lover yet perfectly imperfect being was born. I was born in the city of Belo Horizonte which translates to Pretty Horizon in English, in the state of Minas Gerais (Brazil) on the very first day of spring. I was privileged enough to have a semi-normal childhood and be born into a high middle-class family function. However, I faced lots of difficulties in my relationship with my parents that not only impacted me as a person but still have an impact on my relationship with them to this very day.
One of the main reasons for such strains/traumas in the relationship is that I was born in a conservative family with very strict parents while being a trans girl with huge ambitions. Because of these personal struggles with my identity and parent relationship, I would always use my video game consoles or toys as a form of escape from reality. Even though I only got my first console at the age of six, I would always spend hours on my parent’s computer gaming from the age of three. Although I had access to technology and the internet my parents were very vigilant over every single thing I watched, played, and recorded which led me to find ways to protect a bit of my privacy. What’s more, because my parents were ignorant of the topic of Gender Dysphoria I was forced to research the symptoms that I was having myself and look out for answers to “what was wrong with me” since both of them and all the doctors my parents took me to, never quite figured out a reason for my symptoms.
As a result, I became passionate about researching all sorts of topics that sparked my interest which led me to develop a very important skill that I’m grateful for. This skill is a key reason for my digital wellness journey because, while other kids in high school pursued more “traditional” part-time opportunities, I researched internships that could develop my skillset and further my career. Throughout high school, I participated in numerous internships that range from coding to freelance work but, the most impactful ones were the ones that engaged in activism work. Two great experiences came from working at IntegrateNYC, Headstream, and HIYA.
IntegrateNYC was an internship in which I was selected among other incredible high school students from all over New Jersey to address segregation in New Jersey’s high schools. In it, not only did we fully study and learned about the history of inequality people of color faced but also organized an online event amid the pandemic to confront selected government officials. Headstream was a key stepping stone in my life, so much so. In it, I learned about product testing, assessability, equity, feedback, user research, and intergenerational trauma. I also developed essential skills for my career with my paired innovator — Steven Moyo, Welfie’s founder— During my time working as a youth advisor at Headstream, I got to be one of the panelists for Sesame Workshop in their collaboration with Lego. In that event, I felt valued, embraced, and empowered by people I was initially intimated by, but they respected and valued my opinion. Most recently, I participated in HIYA through an internship. In it, I joined a group of people with incredible backgrounds who conducted surveys and town halls to voice concerns, needs and wants from the homeless-queer community from NYC to share these statics with government officials of NYC.
Engaging in meaningful work opportunities was one of the things that the Internet help me with, but, I also used it as a tool to find a community for myself and feel a sense of belonging. I am a shy introverted girl who always struggled to relate to people my age because I was forced to mature at a young age, so while other kids were playing with their friends I would talk with older ladies and “do my own thing”. I quickly grew lonely since I never could truly relate to anyone nor did I feel a sense of belonging—all this while still figuring out my transition. During this time the internet became my main ally because when I was at my lowest. I came across gaming discord channels in which for once, I felt valued appreciated, and loved for who I truly was so, I made friends, connect, and became the first and only (for a good time) female moderator of that server since it was a predominately male space but my inclusion soon open doors for another girl and more girls to not only help me but take my place as I strained away from the server to focus in other aspects of my life. And while the internet can be a very beautiful place, it also comes with a lot of challenges, ranging from sexism, transphobia, and sexualization at a young age.
The negative experiences I dealt with on the Internet only fueled me to be a better version of myself so I can achieve my wildest dreams. Ms. Gingy is the newly founded brand/image of my own who will be a “public figure” that I plan to launch soon and hope to simultaneously improve my quality of life while also making the internet a better place for all people to thrive, while I build other passion projects to help out youth in need and especially organizations like HMI who have helped me tremendously. As I conclude this autobiography, reflecting upon the journey I have traversed, I am filled with gratitude for the experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today, although far from easy, I now realize, that the amalgamation of my life experiences has made me so great at being human. Looking ahead, I am so excited to embark on new adventures.