Date of Interview: June 16, 2016
Name: Arin Jayes
Pronouns: They/Them and He/Him
Location: Washington, DC
Is there any part of your body that you feel is missing?
Is there any part of my body that I miss… It’s weird, I kind of miss my period in a weird way. I don’t know, I think that there was this sense of release that I got from my period that I’ve lost since being on T. And… I don’t know, I’m not necessarily thinking about being on T for forever. So that might be something that I might want to have again. Not really sure.
What are your thoughts on how gender is perceived?
Umm, I think that gender is a performance. And gender can be very creative. And fun to play with. But it can also be extremely constricting and suffocating for a lot of people. But I think as I’ve become more masculine, I’ve been able to kind of bring out the more feminine parts of myself, and embrace the queen that I am. Because I felt like, when I was perceived as a woman, that people would see me… I would walk down the street and people would see my, and like… they would think that “oh, this is a cis woman” and I was thinking to myself, “No, this is like a flamboyant gay man, who likes to wear blouses and glittery things in heels” But that isn’t what people see. But now that I’ve been able to pass more I’ve been more comfortable exploring those sides more, which is cool.
What are you passionate about?
I’m really passionate about art. I really like making embroidery and textile art. And I’m really passionate about gardening. I’m really passionate about social justice issues and helping people that are experiencing poverty. I’m passionate about my friendship and relationships.
Do you think the way you were raised impacts what you are passionate about, and how you live your life artistically and as an activist?
Yeah! Well, definitely artistically. My mom is a landscape painter, and I was always raised to appreciate the importance of art. And when I was little, there were always crayons and stuff, and art supplies for me to practice with, so definitely in that way. In terms of social justice, I kind of had to go out on my own. A lot of my beliefs are a lot more radical than people in my family, which is something we’re growing in, and being able to understand each other. But I kind of had to do that on my own.
What are you most afraid of for yourself?
Well like, in the immediate future, I am getting top surgery tomorrow. So you know, I am afraid of discomfort and pain and all that. But part of it is trying not to cling to pleasure and feeling good, and to recognize that you aren’t always going to feel good. And that’s okay. And experiencing a little bit of pain is totally worth it to have an awesome chest. So I’m a little bit afraid of that. And in the wake of Orlando last week, I’m definitely feeling more scared in public. And feeling like having a gay club targeted is a punch in the gut to the queer community because, you know, it is a place where people can explore their vulnerability in a space where you are surrounded by queer people. And everyone is having fun and embracing who they are, and that’s a really important space for a lot of people. And so I think the fact that THAT was targeted as a space for queer people on a night with queer people of color was a huge blow to our community. That really scares me.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
I don’t know. I’m kind of young, so I don’t think I’m that far yet in my life, with a lot of things, like a career and stuff. But you know, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot with figuring out who I am, and I feel like I’ve really gone out on my own, and grown up a lot. And I feel like I’m kind of living my truth right now. Which feels like a huge accomplishment.
What do you think of relationships? Platonic, romantic, sexual, and otherwise?
Well, I’m polyamorous and so I think that’s it’s possible to love more than one person. And having multiple relationships exposes you to the beautiful diversity of people being able to be all your various selves around all these various people. And that’s really important to me. And recently, I’ve been trying to explore prioritizing my friendships and other sorts of platonic relationships as much as I prioritize my partnerships. Especially when you’re poly and have a lot of partners, you tend to give a lot of time to your partners because that’s really fun, but… you need to make time to make sure you can see your friends. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time with my friends, and making sure that a lot of people are on board with taking care of me during top surgery. You know, that kind of stuff.
What are some things that you are hopeful for before you turn 40?
Hmmm… Trying to think of the most important thing, but I feel like that’s a lot. I think by then I would like to feel like I’ve started a family… But not necessarily the way one normally thinks of starting a family. I may live in a family with multiple couples in it, or may share the raising of a child with someone, or something. I don’t know what that’s going to look like. That family might include one person or two people or three. I don’t know, but at that point, I want to feel like I have a family.