Jamie Windust on The Spirit of Trans and Non-Binary People

Meet BRICKS Voices cover star and contributor Jamie Windust; writer, model, public speaker and a consultant working within the fashion and creative industries to open dialogues surrounding gender equality.

IMAGES Courtesy of Jamie Windust

Meet BRICKS Voices cover star and contributor Jamie Windust; writer, model, public speaker and a consultant working within the fashion and creative industries to open dialogues surrounding gender equality.

What do you hope to achieve with your magazine FRUITCAKE?

FRUITCAKE was born out of frustration. Frustrated by the media’s constant attacks on trans people and specifically trans youth, and frustration from the lack of queer media sharing authenticity and creativity. I hope to achieve a message of queer representation, but also highlight that queer people are more than just their identity. They’re creative, they’re talented, and have a plethora of skills that make up their identity, not just their sexuality or gender identity. 

Tell us more about your TED Talk – what was the experience of preparing for it like?

TED was one of the most fulfilling and expansive projects I’ve ever worked on. The process was a 3-4 month process of writing the monologue, rehearsing, editing with the amazing TEDxLondon Women’s team, and creating a script that really resonated with the message I was sharing. It was a moment for me in my career that felt pivotal, and incredibly memorable. It’s often hard when you work for yourself, to be your own champion and believe that you’re good at what you’re doing, but TEDxLondon Womens was one of the first times I’d been able to feel fully proud and right in what I was saying and doing. 

Queer for me is a word that represents so much more than just sexuality, or gender identity. It’s something I cherish and adore. It’s silly, it’s fun, it’s harmless, but it’s powerful.

Jamie Windust

What is one thing you hope viewers have taken away from your TED Talk?

It’s a message of reality that trans people know, and yet is so often received as ‘new’ or ‘baffling’ information to cis people who have never heard experiences of trans people before. I wanted people to take away that my story isn’t an isolated incident. It’s happening to trans people around the world, everyday, and we need unequivocal help and compassion right now. No questions asked. Interestingly a lot of people, after the talk, still had the same benign questions about ‘how to be an ally’ and ‘what did you really mean?’, and I sent them away. That wasn’t the purpose of the talk. The purpose was to share a human experience, and for people to take away that they should support those who need help right now. 

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

Queer people have always used social media as a tool to create community when the physical reality is in fact the opposite. Community for me is fostered through a sense of close, personal connection with your chosen family. It’s a time to really step up, and check in on people who might be struggling, or need outlets to share emotions with. Community is fostered through a sense of mutual reliance on each other, and I think the queer community is a beautiful example of how that is done. 

What does the word queer mean to you?

Queer for me is a word that represents so much more than just sexuality, or gender identity. It’s something I cherish and adore. It’s silly, it’s fun, it’s harmless, but it’s powerful. It’s everything and nothing, and its beauty lies in the fact that it’s so interchangeable and personal to each person who uses it. 

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

Your insecurity and prejudice towards people escaping the gender binary, is a sense of jealousy that you feel unable to do so in the confines of a binary society. Open your eyes wider, and realise that this allows everyone to be free from strict, unnecessary borders. 

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

Definitely Intersex people. I’m really looking to speak to more intersex people for FRUITCAKE, as it’s an incredibly important topic that is often discussed when talking about trans and non-binary rights/legislation. That’s what I love about FRUITCAKE, is that it allows people who often are told their identities aren’t ‘palatable’ or ‘commercial’ enough to be seen. 

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

Boundaries are essential for everyone, but more so for marginalised folk. We are so often asked to share such personal stories and emotional labour to help people understand our communities; that it’s incredibly draining to then constantly live the life that you’re describing every day. It’s important for us, but also for people who want to expand their knowledge on marginalised folk, that you can’t just ask all the time. Part of the process is to have the will, the energy and the want to learn more about how we can support marginalised people. Boundaries are something I’ve learned in the past 12 months to really cement into my life, and it’s very interesting to see who responds to them negatively. It’s essentially like they’re waving their own red flag at you. 

Are you optimistic about the future for queer people?

Currently, it’s a difficult time for queer people, especially trans folk. We are about to hear the results of the GRA consultation. Europe’s rise in anti-trans legislation during coronavirus has really exposed the ways in which the pandemic has been used to mask the vicious rulings that have been passed. Despite the attacks from the government, I am optimistic that trans people and the trans community are growing stronger day by day. Our intercommunal support for each other, despite the sad reasoning behind it, is remarkable. Even though the cis LGB community seem to be taking their time to support us unequivocally, our spirit and optimism as trans people will power me through into the future. 

Watch Jamie Windust’s TED talk below and keep up to date with their work on Instagram.

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