Award-winning writer, public speaker, and model Jamie Windust shares thoughts on their work, identity, adoration of the charity Shout and hopes for the future, on Happiful’s podcast I am. I have
In late December 2019, Jamie Windust joined the Happiful team in central London to record I am. I have. Although the year was approaching its end, for Jamie there was no sense of winding down as book deadlines, media engagements and the release of their TedXLondonWomen talk loomed large on the steadily approaching 2020 horizon.
Jamie’s portfolio of work has grown since the beginning of 2019 and, just as a snapshot, includes; writing, editing Fruitcake magazine, modelling, supporting mental health charity Shout and Girl Vs Cancer, speaking on issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community, and most recently their Ted talk about the urgent need for everyone to consistently, and actively support the trans community.
“I started as a freelancer, really just writing about identity, and I still do write about identity quite a lot,” Jamie explains. “I can and do have joy within that but also by writing and speaking work that is not identity specific, it’s about fashion, beauty, politics…
“I've learned to know that there's more to me than just asking people for allyship. I think that's important and I still continue to do that, but that has meant that I've had to really put in some emotional coping mechanisms so that I could continue and not feel completely drained.
“At the beginning I would do everything, but not realise the emotional impact that it has on you as a person.”
Protecting themselves from this emotional impact involves managing the expectations of others around their identity and outwards appearance. “I am more than what I look like,” Jamie shares, is about challenging that statement for themselves too.
“When I would do public facing work as a nonbinary person in makeup and in the way that I present, it could almost sometimes look like that’s saying there's only one way to look non binary. That's really not true.
“I've tried to challenge that within myself, by not always wearing makeup or switching it up and kind of changing how I feel, changing what I wear to see if it impacts my identity. What I've realised is actually it hasn't at all.
“It’s impacted the way that I am received by people, I guess, in a more positive way. I don't receive as much discrimination publicly.”
Jamie reflects that this response gave them further food for thought. “I had a mixture of reactions so I religiously went makeup free for about three weeks. What was interesting was within that first week I still encountered homophobia on the streets. However, en-masse, the reaction was very different and it was almost like I was flying under the radar and kind of just slotting in, which was quite a dichotomy - I felt very happy about that because I hadn't had it for so long, but I also got to a point where I felt like I wasn't being authentic, although I was still valid to my identity, a large part of that is tied up with expressing myself in a way that I want to.”
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I've not worn a look for 7 days and it's been interesting. I've felt dysphoria before but not in ways that have stopped me from being, and I expected to feel it in abundance this week. But it's been different to be honest. Still there, but different. It's been freeing but simultaneously restrictive and confusing. It's been quicker to get ready in the mornings and I don't feel as anxious to get from a to b, but it's also shown me that being non binary isn't all about looking it. I knew that, but putting it into practice in your own body is a completely different thing. My look is so linked to my identity, but in the same breath it's not everything that being non binary is for me. I felt weird without it and insecure at times but I also felt proud that I had been able to be bare for the longest time in nearly 6 years. To all the people who told me this week that they missed my makeup because it cheered them up, I hope we can realise that our presentation in the world isn't for other people's entertainment or joy, it's for our own self discovery and our own joy. I miss the blush and the stars, but sadly I felt safer without them, and that doesn't mean we are failing when we just want to exist without such transmisogyny and prejudice, it means we know our limits of what we can handle. It means we know still, none of this is our problem to solve, and that we are allowed to feel safe. We are allowed to relax our shoulders and breathe. For me it was about being able to feel safe but also still me without the makeup on, and this week showed me I am on my way to doing that. The beat will be back, but for now me and my beard are content and happy that we achieved something that I never thought would be possible.
Jamie began to incorporate make up back into their life to honour this and now they feel they’ve now hit “a middle ground”.
Reflecting on other experiences in the last year, Jamie continues to be supportive of Shout, a mental health charity and text service they were introduced to by Scarlett Curtis, when she asked them to contribute to the stunning book It’s Not OK To Be Blue and Other Lies.
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Such an amazing day speaking at the @giveusashoutinsta conference about LGBTQ+ mental health. Truly applaud all the amazing volunteers who put together the 24/7 crisis text service for those who need it. Was tempted to tell Kate and wills how I think I am in fact the reincarnation of diana however decided it was a bit much, but was really hilarious actually to chat to them, specifically about the state of queer mental health in the UK. A Really special day, and if you need more information check out shouts website and socials or text them on 85258 ❣️
As the podcast chat turned from the past year to years ahead, Jamie’s hope for themself in 10 years time is being happy and feeling proud of the work they’ve done. They also hope that laws will have changed.
“I would also want to see that the things myself and the wider community have been working on are a distant memory and something that we’re now just living a part of and are living with. For example, I campaigned for X passports... I hope legislation changes.
“I hope that in 10 years I can say to myself 'things have moved forward, you got through that rough bit ten years ago and now it's actually fine.'”
Listen to Jamie’s podcast and find out more about the proces of preparing for TedXLondonWomen, conversations around cis privilege and how they work to celebrate themselves.
Follow Jamie and find out more about their work - and please watch their TedXLondonWomen talk - Support For Trans People Isn’t Radical - It’s Urgent.