Casting + Directed + Shot + Edited by Carolina Aguirre
Jules journey and growth through the first year of the pandemic was unique— their decision to transition during the pandemic presented surprising benefits. Their story reflects the many that transition through the restrictions and obstacles that the pandemic held. They made progress in their personal journeys during quarantine that may have otherwise been impossible and unrealistic.
"My name is Jules, I am 30 years old, my pronouns are they/them/theirs and I identify as queer, nonbinary, transmasculine, and Latinx. I am descendant of Mexican parents who immigrated to the United States in the 80’s. I was then raised by a single mom in a small conservative town in California’s Central Valley. My family’s beliefs, traditions and Mexican culture were heavily centered around Catholicism. All of these intersections between the way my mom was raised and how she raised my brother and I impacted my ability to feel secure in my queer identity as a youth. I felt as if I had to keep my queerness separate from my brownness. When I was a young queer, I never imagined I would be able to feel completely myself, with myself or with my family. Now at 30 years old, I’m able to openly embrace all my intersecting identities with pride. "
- Jules Jaramillo
In 2014, I began to think about the possibility of medically and socially transitioning and came out as nonbinary. My biggest obstacle to begin my transition was my mental illnesses of anxiety and depression. I was terrified of how people would see me once I began taking hormones and got top surgery. I didn’t want to be an inconvenience to my family and others around me by confusing them. I was afraid of not liking the permanent changes of my body, of not recognizing myself and losing myself. It took me 6 years to fully feel ready to take the plunge to medically transition. In February 2020, I began taking testosterone and taking the steps to schedule my top surgery. The following month in March was when Shelter-in-Place was ordered due to Covid-19. This brought on another layer of anxieties that I had not before considered.
I was faced with more barriers than already exist for transgender people’s access to healthcare. The process of medically transitioning for me involved making appointments to see my primary care doctor, getting blood work done, scheduling a consultation for top surgery, finding a therapist, going to the pharmacy and be in constant communication with my health insurance provider.
Naturally, all of these resources were redirected due to the pandemic and wait times were longer than normal. Appointments with my doctor and with the surgeon for top surgery consultation were scheduled months out into the future. I was always anxious to be in medical settings for fear of being met with hostility due to my gender expression and identity but now it was more than that. My depression and anxiety were exacerbated with everything else happening in the summer of 2020. The pandemic, elections, protests, wild fires, transitioning... it was a huge shift in society and in my personal life.
Although I didn’t anticipate beginning my transition during a pandemic, it did give me the advantage of only letting my quarantine pod knowing about my process. Due to social distancing requirements, I was mainly at home or at work and the majority of my coworkers were now working from home. There were less people to see, less public restrooms to use, and a mask to hide my slowly changing facial features. I was able to begin testosterone and process it slowly without the added weight of transitioning in the wider public. In September 2020, I was finally given a date for my top surgery. I was scheduled for April 15, 2021 - my 30th birthday. My initial emotion was excitement that it had landed on my 30th birthday but then fear set in. I knew this was the next step I needed to relieve my gender dysphoria but it was bigger than anything I had ever done for myself. This was something that I wanted for years. I had, after all, been binding my chest since I was 23 years old. I went through the internal struggle of deciding if I should do this for myself or hold back for fear of other’s reactions. Mainly, I was worried of what my mom would think. When I broke the news to her, she surprised me with her understanding and support. She told me she was happy for me and she loved me for who I was.
I’m very fortunate to have the support from my family and friends. For the first time in my life, I chose to go all the way for myself and despite being terrified, I knew I would find relief on the other side. The day of my surgery I felt calm and secure with my decision. I entered my 30’s choosing myself. Despite everything else happening in the middle of a pandemic, I feel proud for making this happen for myself. I feel relief and excited for my continuing transition to be my true queer brown self. As someone transitioning in their adult years, I just want to say that transitioning isn’t linear. It’s okay to start, stop, slow down, change your identity or expression at any point in your life and as many times as you feel is right.
Trust yourself and advocate for yourself. Gender is fluid and time isn’t real.