Words and photography by Emily Nardini
This week on Ultravenus, we will be sharing our interview with Nicole Jade – talking about being a trans woman, the LGBT community and exploring her creativity
What age did you realise you were a girl?
It’s something I’ve always known, my earliest memories were of me telling my family I was a girl. They were supportive and would allow me to be myself but to keep me safe would try and encourage masculinity, though that was a dead cause. I would sometimes dress up etc and always act out my favourite pop artists. I really wanted to be a spice girl, I would run around screaming girl power! I really identified with that brash loud unapologetic feminism. I always played with toys marketed at girls and at school I was always with the females as had zero interest in male associated activities, I still can’t kick a ball for shit! Growing up I tried to fit in with the boys where I could but I just never did, I didn’t relate to them at all, I was more interested in drawing and being creative
Have you had any hardships coming out as a girl?
It’s one of those things where I feel that I’m continuously fighting for acceptance. People have their own opinions and that’s absolutely fine with me, I’m a real advocate for everyone having their own mind, but when you are different or a minority people are quick to tell you and remind you of that all the time. It sets off this fear and anxiety within me, this constant need to ‘pass’. Though the world is slowly changing of course people will still say things such as “that’s a bloke/man/tranny” etc. I feel it comes more from a place of lack of education or of ignorance. Society still has these ideals of what is deemed normal and when people realise I’m trans it can be triggering for a lot of them, they question why I am not conforming, they feel I’m being ignorant or stupid but I am just being genuine because I’m being authentic to myself. Regardless of what people think and regardless of the anxiety and panic attacks, I will still get up day after day and be what feels right for myself. I’ve faced a lot of work place discrimination and discrimination in general, it used to bother me so much but now I really couldn’t care less. I carried around that fear for such a long time I feel it really prevented me from growing, I was so obsessed with passing/hiding that it hindered everything else and it’s taken me a lot longer to mature than everyone else because of it
What do you love about being a woman?
This is a tricky question, mainly because I feel that being a woman and what a woman is, is different for all. Being a woman for me was not a case of just going through puberty and being a grown adult female, the journey has been longer and more challenging. Its not an aesthetic, it’s not a lifestyle choice and it’s not for other people. It’s took me a very long time to work out who I am. What kind of woman I am. Being trans a lot of people will put on you what they believe a woman should be like, how they should behave, how they should dress and for a long time I have tried to be those versions of what other people want whereas now I am trying just to be true to myself. A lot of experiences I have had many people would not relate to because they have not grown in that environment and they are happy as the gender they are. I spent a lot of time and still do as part of the LGBT community, feeling safer surrounded by others in that social setting. Therefore my behaviours, the way I dress and my interests are going to reflect that. I may come across as too ‘sassy’, ‘extra’ or ‘out there’ but I wasn’t raised to be the sweet girl next door, I was taught by the LGBT community to be fabulous, fearless and I think a lot more people could do with applying that to themselves. There are many different types of women who all are unique and beautiful in their own ways. I really think that we should stop trying to define what it is to be woman and just allow everyone to be themselves because ‘woman’ is not just one thing, it’s something different to everyone but it’s a word I am proud to identify as. I don’t want to be ignorant to those born biologically (cisgender) female, I don’t want to dismiss the fight for women’s rights and the struggles of womanhood and I am aware that we still very much live in a male dominated world. In my experience of being trans I have witnessed and felt first hand just how oppressive the world still is for females but being a woman is how I have always identified and how I will always continue to identify. Life would be much easier to just live the life of a man, even a gay man but that’s really not who I am. I would rather the hate, the fear and the criticism for being who I am then be liked for something I am not. I do love what are deemed stereo typical female associated things – I love makeup, hair and clothes. I also really love anything camp and flamboyant, but what’s to say that makes me any more or less womanly? No one woman is stereotypical and we have to realise and celebrate that we are all individual – there is no cookie cutter mould we should all fall into
Do you want to spread awareness of being trans and how will you start?
I already do just by being and this interview is just an extension of that. For me, I live my life day to day as a trans woman as it’s innate within me. I’m very open about who I am now, which was not always the case. For a long time I was so obsessed with passing and not being clocked, I just wanted to hide away and live a very traditional patriarchal life because that’s what is normalised, but that wasn’t who I was. I didn’t want to run around hiding that I was ‘different’ – I wanted to embrace that and feel safe enough to embrace that. So then I took it to the other extreme and came out screaming, perhaps a little too loud but subtlety isn’t really my strong point. I also have found it difficult to identify as a feminist, because often it would be females who would take umbrage with who I was and that would annoy me more then what men would say. But, I do believe in equality for everybody, the only thing I dislike is when all men are put into the same category or trash talked, yes, this is still a very male dominated unequal world, but men also have social pressures and gender stereotypes they feel they have to conform to and so I understand/sympathise with them as well. I’ve experienced myself first hand the pressures put on both genders to conform to outdated social structures. My goal isn’t to try and trick anybody that I am a cisgender female and I refuse to run around in fear of being clocked anymore. Like I said earlier, for a long time the majority of my friends have been members of the LGBT community, to try and act as though I am not a part of that is both hypocritical and in my opinion homophobic. Gay culture has paved the way for many women in my position, they are the people that originally welcomed me and gave me freedom to experiment with who I was without being critical or oppressive
Who do you idolise?
I have many inspirations in both my style and art. The more I learn the better I feel I’m getting. Most of the people I look up to are women – be that in music, on film etc. I draw a lot of inspiration from music videos and popular culture. Mainly I’m inspired by the people around me, especially those who are just themselves
What are you currently doing at the moment?
After working in different roles, I always found myself drawing and being creative. That’s my main passion. So I wanted to pursue a career in that, to take my creativity and turn it into a career I enjoy getting up for in the morning. I never studied at a higher level earlier as I was too busy concentrating on who I was and trying to find myself so I figured it was a good time for me to take a degree and channel that creative energy in a way that challenges and pushes me further. It all seemed really ridiculous going to university and doing a degree when my friends were settling down and starting families, but I just went with it, I literally thought fuck it, why not? Why not have those experiences I hadn’t before? It’s taught me a ridiculous amount about myself, and about the world which I had been really naive to
You are artistically driven and love your artwork! Will you be showcasing your art more often?
Thank you! I think it’s an artists prerogative to never really be that confident within their work, the stuff I am currently creating is definitely not there yet but I am enjoying the process of development and experimenting with my creativity. Again my creative style is something that has been a process to find and the direction in which I want to channel that. Whether in more traditional forms of art or through performance. I’m still exploring that side of myself
Describe yourself in 3 words
Romantic, fearless and edgy
This has been your first shoot. How do you feel about it?
It was very daunting at first, I think when you put your image into someone else’s artistic vision there’s going to be an element of vulnerability but working closely with you (Ultravenus/Emily) throughout deciding on themes and looks together has been really interesting and fun. I think we created some bold looks together and encapsulated different sides of my personality. We wanted to keep the whole thing fun but strong and I think that’s been nailed. In terms of the content of the interview, I do just want to say that this is my experiences and my words, no one persons life is the same and we should take that into consideration and not typecast or stereotype. You was amazing in the day of the shoot and did nothing but put me at ease, bringing out my inner confidence and personality. It’s one thing to be yourself, but running around London in a neon green snake skin dress with a clear mac took some bravery though I did enjoy it. It was a pleasure to model for you and I hope we collaborate again in the future
I hope we collaborate in the future too! If you could provide some words of wisdom for Ultravenus to share with everyone, what would you say?
Be yourself regardless
Find Nicole on Instagram: @nic_lejade