Divine would like to introduce you to a rather remarkable young man. His name is Jamie Raines, and he’s been in the news a bit. Jamie is a 22-year-old trans guy from the UK, living not far from me actually, here in Essex.
Jamie has quite a remarkable story to tell and has in fact documented his extraordinary three-year journey on his YouTube channel which has over 20,000 subscribers. He’s had over 2 million views too, so out there, people are interested in what Jamie has to say. I hope you will be too.
Welcome to Divine Jamie, it’s wonderful to have you here. My usual format of interviewing is to ask some random silly questions first so we get to know a little bit more about YOU before getting into the serious stuff.
What’s your ideal holiday?
A cabin in the woods – completely unrelated to the horror film! I would love to go to log cabin or treehouse in a forest/woods and do activities like quad biking, forest trails, and archery.
If you could live anywhere in the world, regardless of money, where would that be and why?
Anywhere near my family ha-ha, where doesn’t matter to me really, it’s more about who is nearby. Although saying that, I would be interested in trying out the West coast of the States for a little bit, but not permanently.
What’s the one appliance or gadget you can’t live without?
Cliché, but my phone. I remember breaking my phone a few years back and being without one for a couple of days and it was horrible. I felt disconnected from everyone, and never knew the time (this was before I got a watch!).
If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
Ha-ha that’s a tough one. Probably my cat and a dragon to create a flying hybrid that sneezed fire…called a drat, because that’s probably what we would end up saying a lot because he’d set so much stuff on fire.
What historical Figure would you love to see in 21st-century life?
Probably someone from a long time ago to learn more accurately about what life was like in their time. Maybe like a Pharaoh or something like that.
Do you know the dance steps to an annoying cheesy pop song?
Does the Macarena count?
Right, here we go to the more serious stuff….
I’m sure you’ve been asked this many times but I think it’s an important question each time. When did you first realise that you were different -that there was someone else inside you that needed a voice and to show themselves? I know you started the process of transition at 17, but how much earlier did you feel there was someone else you wanted to show to the world?
I was 4 the first time I can recall thinking I was male, but at that age, I didn’t realise the difference. I always felt different and out of place but never knew why. It was when I was 16 that I realised what it meant when I watched a documentary about a trans guy. So I think it was a long time before I started to transition that I knew something was different, but it was about a year that I knew what it actually meant.
Your fascinating story documents the transition of Shaaba from a best female friend to a girlfriend. She must be one hell of an incredible person to share this journey with you and deserves huge respect in being with you through what must be a really emotional time. Tell us a bit about her and your relationship change.
She is an amazing person! Shaaba is the kindest and smartest person I know, she is incredibly supportive and just beautiful (sorry for the cheese). Going from being friends to partners was fairly gradual I would say, despite us ‘officially’ getting together on the 8th of November 2011, things had been slightly different between us for a little time before this. We are still best friends, but there is just that relationship element too. We are partners in everything we do.
I’ve seen from previous interviews that both of your families are accepting of your gender identity, although I’m sure there were a few hurdles to face before getting to that stage. How has your transition impacted on family life, siblings, and your friends?
My transition has not had a negative effect on my family life at all, in fact, I feel a lot closer to my mum, dad, and brother since I transitioned. It’s like there isn’t that thing getting in the way anymore; I’m a happier and more open person.
In terms of friends, not much happened really. They were all great and switched name and pronouns really quickly.
There were some acquaintances who were not so supportive, but nothing was ever said to my face. I had the stance that if people like that couldn’t accept me then there was no point upsetting myself over it, and I just ignored it.
Shaaba’s family did have quite a bit resistance to our relationship initially, but we’ve come a long way over the four and a half years Shaaba and I have been together. It’s still not perfect, but it’s improving.
You’ve said one of the big and most important things you noticed about yourself was your voice changing, becoming deeper. Do you feel that this was a defining moment when all the plans you’d made to become male finally fell into place? Or were there other moments like this one?
I wouldn’t say it felt like any plans fell into place, but there were plenty of exciting milestones! My voice was one of them, mainly because it’s a lot more sudden and noticeable than other changes, but facial hair was the other big one I can think of. My beard took a long time to happen, I started getting some visible facial hair at around 2.5 years on Testosterone, and it’s still filling in a lot now!
I would say another defining moment was when I had top surgery. Having surgery was something I obsessed over for a long time and felt desperate to get, and unlike hormones, the effects were pretty instantaneous – minus a couple months for healing! I’m still grateful for my chest all the time and it’s been the single most freeing and confidence boosting thing.
You’re currently studying towards a Masters in Psychology at the University of Essex- do you have plans to perhaps make a speciality helping others in a situation similar to you?
I have plans to go into an academic career within Psychology, and this would be researching transgender people for the most part. I would say it’s helping the community as a whole but from a very distant perspective. It’s not helping on an individual level, but the findings will hopefully be able to filter down to help in some way. That’s my aim anyway, ha-ha.
I’m not sure whether the Channel 4 documentary ‘Girls to Men’ or ‘Born in the Wrong Body’ has aired yet, I couldn’t find any links online. Is this still in the making and how do you feel about being catapulted even more into the public eye?
Yes it aired last October (I think it might still be available on the Channel 4 catch up website). Before it aired, the Buzzfeed article was the first thing that put me in the public eye. There was always a thought in the back of my mind that it would be difficult to go back if anything I did took off, but I decided that I was already happy to put myself out there, on sites like YouTube and Tumblr, and I wanted to be able to reach and help more people.
I’d love to hear Shaaba’s side of the story too. Do you think you could persuade her to write a paragraph or two for this article to include in the interview? She can feel free to share her thoughts and views with us in any way she likes.
Hi, thanks for getting in touch – your silly questions are brilliant ha-ha. Not entirely sure what you want me to say, but I hope the below is okay!
It’s crazy to think that when I started college, I had no idea was ‘trans’ even meant, but meeting Jamie has helped me learn and grow in ways I never expected it would. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s been amazing to see how much Jamie has changed since I first met him. Not just through his physical transition, but with the amount of confidence and happiness it’s brought him too. It’s also been really heart-warming to see the overwhelming amount of support he’s gotten from sharing his story. I’m really glad there’s a growing awareness and understanding of the trans community, to help everyone in a similar position.
People think that being with a trans guy must be different or unusual, but it really isn’t. We laugh, sulk, and fight, just like any other couple; and just like any other couple, the obstacles that we face are unique to our backgrounds and culture, not just Jamie’s transition. Having said that, Jamie being trans has had a big impact on my life, and it’s been mostly positive! It’s presented opportunities to meet some pretty amazing people, and has shown me how important it is for people to feel comfortable in expressing who they really are.
Thanks again, and all the best!
Jamie, and Shaaba, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview, I’m sure the readers will find it as fascinating and inspiring as I did. I hope that everything continues to go well for you and I’d love you to keep in touch with anything you feel you’d like to get across.
All the best for the future for you and Shaaba.
And here’s something Divine will certainly mention – (Lol Jamie, it’s not cheeky at all. We wish you all the best with this enterprise. Let us know when you’re ready to launch and I’m sure we can do something to help you J)
This may seem a little cheeky, but we have a pretty exciting new social enterprise venture that we’re working on, it’s called This Is Me. We’re currently designing a pronoun-wear range, and plan on developing a branded functional clothing line that just promotes being yourself, and being accepted for it, no matter how you identify. We’ve got a fundraising campaign starting early June for a month, and plan to launch around the same time, so if you’d be happy to share anything around that in the summer, we’d be really grateful. It is a social enterprise, so all of our products aim to help the LGBT+ community, and 20% of what we make will go towards donations and giveaways for the community too.
The interview was done by Susan Mac Nicol