2018 Role Model Spotlight Series
Jase Falk: Non-Conformist, Writer, Trans Woman
For the second segment of 24strong’s 2018 Role Model Spotlight Series, I interviewed Jase Falk. A student at the University of Winnipeg, Jase is a talented writer, a committed non-conformist, and an avid reader who identifies as a trans woman. Every morning, Jase wakes up and begins reading as much as she can. Her efforts to stay well-informed and to apply her knowledge with care are noticeable in her daily life which is why I reached out to ask for an interview. I was surprised to learn that Jase is not comfortable with the idea of being a role model; but still, she believes it is important to be of support to others.
“Don't let other people's ideas of you affect you too much.”
RB: Describe yourself in five words or less.
JF: Non-conformist / Content with uncertainty
RB: What does a typical day look like for you?
JF: My days are quite inconsistent. I'm mostly a student and also the various jobs I work are ones that I make my own hours for which is cool, it just means I'm very all over the place doing different things every day. I usually get up around eight or sometimes later when I'm having one of those days and do as much reading as possible, go to classes if I need. It's mostly just a heck of a lot of reading.
RB: Who inspires you?
JF: CeCe McDonald inspires me a lot. She's a black trans woman from the states who is a prison abolitionist and incredible activist person. She spent like seven years in a men's prison because she was assaulted and fought back because of it and now is doing just incredible activist work. There's a great documentary about her life.
RB: Was there a moment or a period of time when you began to consider yourself a writer?
JF: Yeah, when I was like eight or something I was like yeah, I'm going to be a writer, I'm going to be a novelist and for many years, probably like for sixteen through like eighteen or something, I very much felt like I kinda lost that for a while. It felt very scary and uncertain. It's been only the last number of years when I've kinda felt like I've had my entire sense of self kind of collapse in a lot of ways and I had to rebuild it. And relearning how to write and create art in whatever way was a big part of doing that. I'm still kinda uncertain as to where that's leading. In some ways I still feel like I'm learning even though I've done like quite a large amount. I feel like I'm always learning and always reconsidering what kind of writer I am.
RB: What is it like to be a trans woman in 2018?
JF: Identity categories are strange. In terms of understanding myself, I had signs very early on that things were different for me. I did not pay attention to them and I was very good at learning how to repress things and that's not a good thing. It took me a really long time to really feel comfortable with myself and it's still a process of learning that every day basically. I feel very comfortable identifying as a trans woman. Like I use she/her pronouns. I feel still like quite alienated by this whole idea of gender binary. I was very well-received with my friends and family but a lot of people had expectations like I was going to be super feminine all the time. I love being feminine but I feel like I can do that in multiple kinds of ways.
RB: What would you tell someone who is in the middle of their teenage years if they're struggling with their identity?
JF: It's okay to be unsure of yourself. It's okay to try things. It's okay to be wrong too. A lot of it was like, I'm not one hundred percent sure of myself, I don't know if this is true. I wish I could have just pushed that aside. Don't let other people's ideas of you affect you too much.
My conversation with Jase was informative. The gist of what I learned was that showing you care often just looks like listening. Listening is especially important when someone who is within a marginalized population has something to say. As a cisgender woman, I now understand that is my responsibility to step back and to let people of other genders be represented in mainstream culture and media. Jase’s amazing command over written and spoken word is something to keep an eye on, especially when looking for work that respects and incorporates many ways of knowing. Though the term “role model” isn’t quite up Jase’s alley, her daily grind offers a glimpse into how she has forged her own path while keeping in mind the feelings and experiences of everyone around her.