With the help of the LGBTQIA+ members of our community, we’re celebrating equality without exception the Pride month, and showcasing love in all its forms.
Today, we’re featuring Jamie Pandit, a transgender woman making waves online and IRL.
Who are you? What are your pronouns + how do you identify? What do you do?
I am Jamie Pandit, a Bangladeshi-Canadian transgender woman and my pronouns are she/her. I describe myself as a content creator, influencer, model, fashion expert on television but most importantly, I am a change maker.
How do you ‘Come As You Are?’
Years of living in stealth, meaning hiding my trans identity, it is often difficult to “come as I am” not just in front of others but even to myself. Every day, I am consciously unlearning expected societal and cultural norms from my internalized hate and trauma over the years. After coming out, I have especially been leaning into my inner voice, what feels right, loving myself and choosing my joy.
Coming as I am means allowing myself to not just exist but to thrive and enjoy life to the fullest of my ability. To feel everything and be all the things that I am. It’s being unapologetically myself, even if it doesn’t make sense to others or I don’t “fit in”. I don’t have to love everything about myself but I am working on accepting myself - my trans identity.
How does fashion and style help you express your identity?
Fashion is a piece of clothing or trends that come and go. However, style is what you do with it - your own personal spin. Fashion and my personal style have been my armour to the harsh realities I’ve faced all throughout my life. Putting on a garment, styling it and have the look come together in the way I’ve envisioned it gives me that extra boost of confidence. It’s wild to think putting on a dress or wearing a certain colour somehow validated my identity and how I felt about myself.
For years, because of the way colours are gendered, for example, blue for boys and pink for girls; I often felt like I had to prove my femininity by wearing pink and started to despite it. I didn’t want to wear blue because it felt masculine.
Now, listening to myself and allowing myself the freedom to choose, I wear whatever I want that makes me feel good and expresses my differing moods.
There’s a lot of work to be done in the industry for gender inclusive clothing, what is something you want brands doing more of?
I am not sure if this is something that is going to change anytime soon but perhaps not labelling clothing as “for women” or “for men”. Creating these binaries continue to exclude trans people that are non-binary and quite frankly, for anybody who is looking to explore themselves, or their identity through clothing.
To simply put it, if a man wants to wear a dress because they’re drawn to them, it is not going to suddenly make them a “woman”. It IS just a piece of clothing. But perhaps, not having these labels will make everyone feel comfortable to do so.
Is there a cause that you feel particularly close to?
I was homeless when I was 16 and was living in a shelter. During that time, I did go to a local Toronto 2SLGBTQ+ organization, the 519, that have counselling services, queer parenting resources to coming out groups, trans programming and hot meal programs. Going there gave me feeling of belonging, community and safety, especially since I was alone without any support from family and friends. At present, whenever I am able, I do donate to the 519 or recommend others to do the same as it is a vital centre for the needs of the 2SLBTQ+ community in Toronto.
However, there are so many organizations that we can support like the Marsha P. Johnson Institute protecting and defending the human rights of black transgender people. There’s also the Trevor Project focusing on suicide prevention among 2SLGBTQ+ youth and Pflag Canada that offer peer-to-peer support to anyone exploring their sexual orientations identity and gender expression.
There is also Qmunity - where queer, trans, and Two-spirit folks who are looking for a sense of community come together to meet, guide and support one another. Smash + Tess is working with them during Pride month where you can donate at check out!
What can allies do to better support the queer community?
We talk about education and allies taking the time to educate themselves often. However, now is really the time that allies need to stand with us in action especially with all the anti-trans bills going forward targeting trans youth.
On a daily basis, sometimes we just need an ally to listen without always hearing an opinion. Allies should avoid not assuming or speaking from an LGBTQ+ point of view when it is not their lived experience. This also means being open to being corrected as they may not always have the answers or know the right thing to say. When you are open to learning, you can not only grow as an individual but can also support them better in the future. Lastly, being an ally doesn’t mean doing a good deed and that’s it - allyship is continuous work and requires constant learning and unlearning of internalized transphobia.
What brings you joy?
Simply not existing but experiencing all of the things life has to offer and thriving as a transgender woman brings me joy. I never saw someone like me happy and experiencing joy.
Connecting with my community online, spending time with my little family, breaking barriers, starting conversations, and creating content with fashion and beauty but also sharing my experiences brings me joy because I am being authentic to who I am.
We can’t express how grateful we are to you for sharing your story with all of us, Jamie! For more information on The 519 and all the services they provide to advocate for the inclusion of LGBTQ communities, visit their website.
If you’d like to join us in contributing to Pride, donate at checkout to QMUNITY, a non-profit organization that works to improve queer, trans, and Two-Spirit lives in Vancouver, BC through community initiatives and collective strength.