Kenny Ethan Jones on Trans Inclusion and Diversifying Fashion

Meet Kenny Ethan Jones; Model, Activist and Entrepreneur best known for becoming the first trans man to front a campaign about Periods.

IMAGES Courtesy of Kenny Ethan Jones

Can you tell us about who you are and what you do? 

My name is Kenny Ethan Jones, I’m a model and activist. All of my activism champions trans rights and inclusion, I’m mostly known for my work in the period space but I also discuss body politics, mental health and intimacy.

How did it feel to be the first man ever represented in a period-product campaign?

It’s pretty wild to think I made history in my own little way. At the time of the campaign launching, I was terrified, I knew that fronting a period campaign would lead to my identity as a man being attacked, I also knew that once it was out in the world I couldn’t take it back. I remember seeing my name and photo everywhere and my anxiety peaking from the pure exposure that I had gained. It took a couple of days, but once I had adjusted to my newfound fame I felt proud. I contributed to a change of narrative, I amped the conversations, I took something that had caused me so much dysphoria and made it my strength while simultaneously helping others, what wasn’t to be proud of.

I don’t expect you to understand our journey, but I do expect you to respect it. Everybody deserves love and respect. 

Kenny Ethan Jones

How can we foster a sense of community while in isolation? 

This is one of those times that I’m really grateful for technology and social media platforms such as Instagram. Many of the organisations that create queer-friendly spaces are finding ways to duplicate that online. Isolation doesn’t have to be lonely when you have access to millions of people at your fingertips. I’d suggest checking all your favourite pages and seeing what they are up to.

What is your earliest memory of the queer community?

Being underage and hitting the gay clubs in Vauxhall, Ahh, what a time! I was still coming to terms with being trans and was trying to find people like myself. There weren’t any support groups (not that I knew of anyway) that I could attend so I became a man of the night, spending near enough every weekend dancing and laughing away. Those nights really became the foundation of my confidence, seeing queer people, mostly Black queer people just existing, not being judged for who they are or who they loved, it was something truly heartfelt. I treasure those moments even today. 

If there is one thing you could say to oppressors of queer people, what would you say?

I don’t expect you to understand our journey, but I do expect you to respect it. Everybody deserves love and respect. 

What are some changes you hope to see in the fashion industry, post-pandemic, for trans people?

Diversity. The entire fashion industry needs a revamp and not just what’s seen on the runways or on the front of magazines, but the people behind the scenes and the decision-makers. It’s not even about trans people, it’s about minority groups as a whole. We cannot expect true diversity without structural change. We need the minds of those who are home to minority groups taking the lead on campaigns because I believe if we do that, the idea of beauty will change and that will open the doors to people like myself. 

What parts of the queer community do you feel needs more representation? 

In terms of sexualities; bisexual, pansexual and ace individuals. And definetly more conversation surrounding intersex people. 

Do you feel it is crucial as visible queer people to set boundaries so you don’t give too much of yourself? 

Activism, when you’re a queer person, is taking all of the things that made you hate yourself, made you feel less worthy of love and respect and caused you the most dysphoria and putting it on display for the world to see. So yes, we need boundaries, somewhat of an internal fortress. 

Here are some things that have helped me: Knowing when to not comment, knowing when to log out (social media), establishing what I will and won’t do for free (charities included), being honest when I can’t deliver to a deadline, exiting conversations I no longer want to be apart of and telling my loved ones when I just don’t have the energy to engage in conversations or activities. 

Don’t feel bad about putting these into practice either, if you give too much to the world you’ll have nothing left for yourself. 

What is next for the #internalperiod campaign?

Everything is very much under wraps but I’ll give you this, I want the voices and experiences of trans people to be documented properly and leveraged to help many aspects of our lives, especially within the healthcare system. My next step will be gathering information in order to present my findings to authorities and decision-makers to make some much-needed changes to society, I think it’s going to develop into something quite remarkable.

Are you optimistic about the future for queer people? 

I experience a range of emotions when asked this question, ultimately because the government toys with our human rights but I will say this, wherever the future may take us, there will be queer activists ready to fight for what’s right. 

Keep up to date with Kenny Ethan Jones and his work on Instagram

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