Jamie Raines, 23, has spent six years documenting his transition as a transgender man.
From teenage boy inside a woman’s body, through the ups and downs of hormone treatment, we asked Jamie what it was like to start living fully as man – and how doing so allowed him to find acceptance in himself.
“I first remember feeling like I was a boy when I was four years old, just after I started reception class at school.
“I thought I was like the other boys, and it wasn’t until I got a little older that I realised I was different.
“Then puberty happened, and that really hit the message home that I was different, and made me think that I just had to live as female.”
When did you decide to transition?
“I could relate so much to what the trans guy in the show was saying. That’s when I Googled and went on YouTube and looked into what ‘transgender’ meant further and when I did, I instantly knew that was me, and that transitioning was something I needed to do.”
How was it received by your family and friends?
“I think this really helped her understand how I was feeling. My mum told my dad and brother for me (which is something I still regret, I wish I had told them myself), and they were both amazingly supportive.
“My friends were the same, just accepting, and switched to using male pronouns after I asked them to. There were a few friends that I wasn’t very close with who stopped keeping contact with me, but it didn’t bother me too much.”
When you started to transition, how did it match up with your expectations?
“I was also surprised at how difficult it was to find someone to talk about it in general. Whilst doctors and college counsellors were perfectly friendly, they weren’t very knowledgeable about how to help me, which made things a little difficult.
“I think the biggest surprise was just how much transitioning has improved my life and how I felt about myself. Obviously I was expecting some change, but honestly, I can’t believe the positive impact it has had on my confidence, and my wellbeing in general.”
How did your girlfriend’s support help you on your journey?
“We had been close friends for about a year before I came out, and after I told Shaaba I was trans, she was so supportive and we just grew even closer. My girlfriend is straight, so I think once I came out and she saw me as male, it changed the dynamic of our friendship slightly.
“Over the following months we both started to see each other in a different way, we almost rebuilt our friendship and it just organically developed to being more than just friends, if that makes sense.”
What made you decide to be as open as you have?
“Also, I wanted to share transitioning from a UK perspective, because a majority of trans guys on YouTube at the time were American, and I found it so difficult to get the information I needed when I started my journey.
“But even though I chose to be open, I never expected to be as open as I am now – I remember being shocked that my video got 100 views, and always just thinking that it would be a very small thing. Now when I upload a video, it’ll get thousands of views in an hour, I can’t believe how much it’s grown!”
How would you describe your life before transitioning versus after?
“I found it difficult in the beginning, both in terms of self-acceptance, and also just knowing what the hell I should be doing about it.
“Every transition stage felt like a battle, from coming out, to changing my name, to accessing hormones and surgery – it required patience, which is something I’m not great with, haha. But as time went by, I’ve just felt so much more relaxed and like I’m not fighting anything anymore, I just get to be me.”
What do you think is the most common preconception about trans people you’ve encountered?
“I think what I also see quite a lot is reference to ‘the surgery’, which doesn’t exist. I think people are referring to bottom/genital surgeries, but even within this category there are so many options.”
Do you think you’ll continue to speak openly about these issues?
“I also run a social enterprise with Shaaba where we are helping LGBT+ people, and trans people in particular, from a more official and substantive platform.
“Whilst also hopefully helping trans people themselves, I also want to help with the understanding, awareness, and acceptance of trans people to general society. My current PhD research focuses on this too, which is another way I hope to speak about these issues.”
What changes to the law or peoples’ attitudes would you like to see take place?
“It’s good to see that legislation is starting to protect LGBT+ rights better now, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“Overall, much more needs to be done to increase understanding and awareness of transgender people, especially from the media. A lot of the focus now seems to be on the medical side of things, and seems quite sensationalised, but it doesn’t have to be.”
You can view more of Jamie’s content here: https://www.youtube.com/user/MrPinocchio17