Ask A Queer: Jesse June

Photo courtesy of Jesse.

Photo courtesy of Jesse.

Today’s queer is Jesse June, an Animation Production Assistant living in Los Angeles. Jesse grew up in the Bay Area of California and attended Chapman University for a BFA in Animation and Japanese minor. Her hobbies include reading, writing, baking, watching movies, and thrift shopping.

You can find Jesse under the handle sinister_taint on Twitter.

If there is a word you don’t understand in this blog post, you can consult the main page of “Ask A Queer” for definitions. Now let’s get into it! The following responses from Jesse were only edited for clarity. These words and this experience are all hers.

How do you identify? What are your pronouns?

I identify as a pansexual, transgender woman with she/her pronouns.

What do you wish people understood about your identity?

I wish people knew that my identity is very important to me, but it's not everything about me. I am a person, not some zoo animal you can peek over at with binoculars; I eat, sleep, and pee just like any cis person. I also think people need to know social boundaries and cues within public. The amount of times people have asked me INCREDIBLY intrusive questions based on my identity is appalling. I was recently at a free clinic, and a nurse had asked me "did [I] cut 'IT' off and can [I] have sex like...with guys?" and she's not the only one. I would never go up to someone I didn't know and be like, “Hey do you spit or swallow? Or like how big are your labia lips?” Not that you can really equate those examples, but regardless, having tact and knowing what's appropriate is not that hard. A good "marker" is if you wouldn't ask a complete stranger the question, you can't ask me, I don't care if you're "just curious" or "you've never met a trans person before," you have absolutely no right to ask that.

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What can allocishet people do to support your community?

Allocishet can do a lot to support the community. I think the term "educate yourself," as much as it is thrown around, is incredibly important. I have to credit my friend Aya who said, "The internet is free." I think so often people, especially allocishet, say that they don't know how or what to learn. In a day and age where we have so much access to the internet and libraries, there really is no excuse. I would also encourage people to be cognizant of the media they take in. If you want to learn about trans women, reading an article by a cis femme who maybe queer isn't going to give you the most authentic knowledge. Whatever you're trying to learn about, if it is trans women, read stories written especially by trans women of color, as they pioneered the fight for liberation. I'm also not saying that you can only take media in from those people, but remember it when you take in media from others about a community they're not a part of.

I think another thing that can help, is to understand the violence that is happening against trans people. Trans individuals, predominantly black trans women, are dying in rates that are mirroring the aids crisis of the 1980s and people are choosing to ignore it. If you can donate to causes that protect and help trans people, go to protests and rallies, and most of all STOP making any joke about pretending to be trans to get rid of unwarranted attention. Also, never out anyone in general, but if you know someone is trans, do not say or post anything about their identity without their consent.

What do you love about being queer?

I love the strength that comes with being queer. Whenever I see the talent and beauty of queer art, I get so inspired. Not to mention the adversity queer people, especially queer people of color, go through and yet still find the passion and love to be their full selves, it's truly invaluable. I also love that being queer means I have my own journey, and I get to explore myself, not "cookie cutter" in the slightest.

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How do you stay connected to the LGBTQ+ community?

I think social media and the internet, which are free, help to stay connected, which is vital. I experience queer movements and different ideologies of queer individuals by what is shared on social media. I think whether that means following them on Twitter or hearing about a rally or protest for queer people on Facebook and going to it, it's all possible. I would also say, if you're able, more and more cities (especially capital and major) have spaces for queer individuals. They have groups to talk about transness, explore identity, scream at the wall in frustration, etc. In general, I would say the more queer friends you can make, the less alone you will feel in a cissexist cis white hetero society.

Jesse speaking at a rally at her college. Photo courtesy of Jesse.

Jesse speaking at a rally at her college. Photo courtesy of Jesse.

What does the LGBTQ+ community need to work on? How can they better support your identity?

I think the LGBT community has some definite problems with supporting trans individuals. I think often cis gay men make jokes and use slurs against trans women and that’s not solidarity or support. I think in general another thing to remember is that much as we all love drag, the original drag queens were trans women. Marsha P. Johnson was a drag queen, but she was also a trans woman, so remember that the next time anyone makes a "chick with a dick" joke or when we celebrate being legally married to our partners.

On that topic as well, we as a community need to teach our youth that there is not only one path to transition. Of course, if one wants to start hormones and surgery that's completely valid at any age, but also, it's certainly not the only way to transition. You're just as much a trans individual without any hormones or surgery; however you feel comfortable in your identity is completely valid. Not to mention that if you pass (as I am one who does) for cis, remember you have privilege in our community and you need to use it help each other not perpetuate the the cis-endowed hierarchy.

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Describe your coming out experience in 5 words or less.

Nervous, Long, Surprising, Instant Relief.

What are your favorite pieces of LGBTQ+ media?

I would say the movie “Happy Together” from Wong Kar Wai, the book Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima, and the movie “Moonlight” from Barry Jenkins.

Who are your LGBTQ+ role models?

I would say Paris Lees, Lee Mokobe, Ylang Ylang Poon (HuoHeian).

Who are your favorite LGBTQ+ celebrities?

Ezra Miller, Laverne Cox, Lena Waithe, Ang Lee, Kevin Abstract, and Awkwafina.

And finally, are you alright with me referring to you as “queer,” or does the term make you uncomfortable?

I am perfectly comfortable with you referencing me as queer, thank you for asking!