“My name is Jazmine Carter and I am a makeup artist, graduated from CMU college and a model signed to Sutherland models.
I was born in Trinidad and Tobago, a little island in the Caribbean. I moved to Canada when I was about five years old and it was one of the biggest blessings in the world. I love my birthplace with a passion, there is nothing like it. However, I think if I had lived in the Caribbean for my entire life, I would not have been able to go through my journey of discovery concerning my gender. I was privileged and fortunate to do that living in Canada.
In my early childhood and adolescence, I was just a very feminine, flamboyant, boy. To me, that came very naturally. If you look at any of my childhood photos, you can see it emanating from me. I was always undeniably myself and it was something I could never hide. Fast forward to high school, I was the youngest to come out in my graduate years. I came out in Grade 10 after the Pulse tragedy. I felt like it was just something that I needed to speak up about. From that moment is where I started my activism and fighting for the community. I spent the remainder of my high school career from grade onwards exploring gender expression with clothing, makeup and hair. I was finding where I fit in on the spectrum of gender and the LGBTQ community.
I ended up snowballing into what I knew as my form of drag. My drag was really different than your average RuPaul‘s drag race girl because to me it was more of a form of realism. It wasn’t defined necessarily by overdramatic makeup, over-the-top hair, or extravagant costumes. It played more into an everyday type of girl but to me that was just my form of an alternative character, a form of escape, this character that I could tap into to express myself. I was still comfortable being a boy. I simply had a passion for playing with hair and makeup, and I loved that I was able to look so effortlessly feminine. It came so naturally to me. It was my niche.
For the next two years of my life, between 18 to 20 years old, I kept developing my identity and discovering what it meant to me, this persona that I was tapping into. I started to feel like my body was not matching up with the image in my head anymore. The person that I was seeing in the mirror was no longer what felt I was supposed to be. I noticed that my body was finalizing its development through male puberty – the testosterone was doing what it was supposed to do like defining my muscles and growing facial hair. I was no longer comfortable with it. That is when I was realized that I actually wanted to present feminine all the time. I made the decision to transition. I knew that I needed to live the life that felt most natural, comfortable, and effortless.
Truthfully, my transition journey has been really great. I owe a lot of this to the people around me and the community I have found in Ballroom. Ballroom has been a great space to meet other people like me and fit in. I’ve been able to see how young trans girls can go in and come out successful, driven and see that there’s a world of opportunities for them. I have been lucky to be apart of that. Being involved in Ballroom, has enabled me to meet many wonderful and talented trans women who have been my mentors. I’ve had this seamless experience in my transition because of them. As well, my house family members have helped me. This close knit support has provided me with love, guidance, and care and has made my journey peaceful and fulfilling. I am so blessed and grateful for this community and chosen family.
The Ballroom community has been a extremely resourceful to my transition, from people in my house helping me to get the medication I needed to transition to others directing me into the right support groups. My house mother Tamar paid for my first session of laser on my face which was a huge reaffirming procedure for my gender and helped a ton with my gender dysphoria. That was something that my house mother took care of for me without me even asking. I am blessed.
In terms of discrimination as a trans woman I am fortunate because I have the privilege of passing. As well, I choose to be binary happen to be ‘cis’ assuming. I don’t necessarily face a lot of discrimination. Thus with this privilege comes an even bigger responsibility. As somebody who is passing, it is my job to advocate, fight, and speak up for the trans women and men that are getting harassed. As well, to advocate for those who cannot afford to access procedures or services that they may need to affirm their gender. This is something that I feel anybody who has the privilege to pass in the trans community should be advocating for. We need to advocate for the trans girls and trans men who don’t have the privilege to pass yet or who choose not to. We need to make sure that the world is a safe space for them. These are our brothers and sisters. Nobody is looking out for them, so we have to.
I am also really privileged to live in a time where there are opportunities for people like me. Companies, the media and creators of art and narratives are encouraging trans representation by using trans people to accurately portray stories about my our community. It is important for me to thank the trans people that fought before my time so that young trans kids like me could live in a more inclusive world. I want to be a person who continues this trend and creates more safe spaces and opportunities for trans kids like television productions and modeling. I want to show young trans kids that they are capable of having these dreams. These aspirations are possible, achievable and their gender is not going to stop them – it is actually a superpower.
One of the biggest ways that I have made change is by giving opportunities to members of my community. I know a handful of trans girls that I can call and say, “get your make up and get your hair together I have a job for you” and they will be there in a flash. It gives these girls a sense of faith and helps them get a foot into the fashion industry. I want to see more of us flourish in spaces where we were once told we would never have the chance.
My best advice to anyone beginning their journey with gender is to take your time. Gender is far more complex than what society lets us believe. Enjoy every feeling you have and take it one day at a time. There is no mold you must fit. You can define what your gender means to you. Some of us choose to follow the binary and some of us don’t. That is what your superpower is – hound on that and love yourself the way you find fit!”