Tiffany Abreu’s season in the Brazil’s women’s volleyball Superliga ended with a tough playoff semifinal loss to eventual league champion Itambe Minas last month, but she garnered a win a few days later when she was named by Outsports as the pro athlete award winner for our inaugural Triumph Awards.
Then on Monday, Abreu won a spot in the new ad campaign from Adidas. One of the 30-second vignettes showing groundbreaking moments in sport and culture focuses on Abreu’s rise as the first trans woman to play at the highest level of her sport in one of most competitive volleyball leagues in the world.
The campaign is called “Impossible Is Nothing.”
Abreu is the third out transgender athlete and the first trans woman to be the face of a major brand. She joins duathlete-triathlete Chris Mosier, who was featured in his first of several ad campaigns for Nike in 2016, and boxer Patricio Manuel, who appeared in an ad campaign for the iconic boxing brand Everlast in 2019.
Narrated by trans Brazilian singer and model Urias, this new ad encapsulates Abreu’s play on the court and her impact off of it. Her nation’s transgender community has been a target for vitriol that extends all the way up to Brazil’s openly anti-LGBTQ head of state. In the days since the ad’s debut, fans have spread news of the campaign and shared the clip across social media. On Wednesday, Abreu told the women’s online magazine Universa what being included by Adidas meant to her.
“To think that a person who left the interior of Pará and who sometimes had nothing to eat and today is in the middle of a campaign with names like Beyoncé is a great pride for me,” Abreu said. “Knowing that little seed that I planted there in the past bears fruit and that I can represent the LGBTQ+ community in various places around the world.”
In 2017, Abreu returned to Brazil to play for her current team, Sesi Vôlei Bauru, after 3 years away from sport, as she worked through the legal and medical aspect of her gender transition. In the last 5 seasons, she has helped the club move from the lower tier of the Superliga to become a championship contender.
She’s also become a frontline player and fan favorite in the league while weathering continued controversy surrounding the issue of transgender participation in sport. In 2019, the criticism included an attempt by the São Paulo state government to pass a law banning her from playing matches in the state, citing “fairness for women.” With Abreu, fans and pro-trans legislators speaking out, including Brazil’s first elected trans federal deputy Érica Malunguinho, the attempt stalled.
Abreu has also been mentioned as a candidate for Brazil’s medal-contending national team, including the possibility that she could be in the lineup for her country at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Abreu acknowledge that the Olympics are a longshot for her, but notes what she does in the game now could open the door for another transgender athlete in the future.
“My greatest legacy is not to reach an Olympics, but to open paths for new trans athletes in the near future. My wish is that, more and more, confederations start to see us not as trans people, but as athletes,” Abreu told Universa. “I am sure that, in the future, these athletes will represent our country and I dream of the day when we will be seen as just any athlete, without controversy and hatred.”