Fifty Shades of Gender podcast graphic with Jen Hartmann

Episode 63

A conversation with Jen Hartmann


41 min. Recorded on 21 September 2021. 

Jen is pretty much ok with all the traditional pronouns, but prefers he/him. He is non-binary and also identifies as bigender. Find out what that means to Jen in this episode.

We also talk about growing up with a very gendered language, being expected to fit into cultural and gendered stereotypes, disrupting the fashion industry and the future of innovation, how clothes are an integral part of gender expression, navigating entrepreneurship and the challenges that come with doing your own thing, surrendering to divine timing, and that one size does not fit all.

“My energy is very different when I wear male clothes and when I feel that I might be read more male, and I feel more empowered. But oddly enough I also feel more empowered in that sense when I’m presenting very very femme…when I wear like a really sexy body-hugging dress that is totally over-the-top female, it empowers me too.”

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TRANSCRIPT [expand to read]

Esther: So, hello and welcome. What’s your name?

Jen: Hi, I’m Jen or Yen over the, and my full name’s Jennifer.

Esther: Well welcome, Jennifer. And yeah. So tell me about your gender experience.

Jen: Well, my gender experience has, I think on some level it’s very much informed by being German and being from the Bavarian countryside. Which is, as you can imagine, anybody can imagine a very, very fine kind of surrounding. And stereotyping is totally fine in Bavaria. Females do female things, males do male things. Right. And I was never, even though my body, I was born into a female body. I was never female in that sense. And, but there was no language around it really when I was born and they try and, and stuff.

And then suddenly at some point, the word nonbinary occurred on the, on the language landscape. So I mean, I’m sure it’s been, it’s been around for longer, but in any case it’s it’s I heard about it. And then I realized. It might be the word that describes that describes me best actually, because in my own gender experiences, like I have had times when I thought I was trans and I would definitely much prefer to be in a male body and, and it would be right to be male in, in society.

And I have suffered from dysphoria, but not every day in that sense, online. For me personally, it was like, I felt like I was a transperson without dysphoria, which makes me not a transperson, but a non-binary person in that sense.

Esther: And you, you said about your pronouns which, which kind of links to this, I suppose. So you, you said you prefer he/ him.

Jen: Yeah, but I’m totally fine when people give me female female pronouns too. The difference to me is if someone refers to me as a she, It doesn’t do anything to me or for me, it’s like, whatever, I have no feelings about it. But if somebody refers to me by he, him, it makes me happy and it makes my day.

Esther: That’s good to know. I mean, how do you feel about neutral pronouns? Like they, them?

Jen: I dunno, rather recently people have started using these pronouns for me, but I don’t, I don’t really feel they describe me because I don’t feel. I dunno, they, them, to me language wise and obviously this isn’t my first language. It feels more like gender less in that sense. It’s like neither he, nor she, and I don’t feel like I’m neither. He, nor she, I feel like I’m both. He and she,

Esther: Well that leads me to the next label that you, you gave me, which is bi-gender, that sounds like a good summary of what that means. So, I mean, what, what else does that mean to you?

Jen: I think that’s pretty much what it means. Yeah, yeah. As a night, not neither nor, but one and the other. I don’t know any people we use that term for themselves, but I think it’s like a term that is used under the umbrella of nonbinary.

Esther: Yeah. Yeah. The nonbinary umbrella or like the gender umbrella, as I’ve seen, this is quite interesting because obviously people can be trans and non binary or just nonbinary and not, not necessarily trans you know, Yeah, not necessarily under that umbrella.

So have you always had a sense of your gender as far as you can remember?

Jen: Yes, I think so. I only, I did this online retreat through recreated space, which are very great all the way over the weekend. And it made me when we think of when I was much, much younger and German is a very gendered language. Every word, every word has a gender. So it’s, it’s kind of impossible to like in English, you know, most thing, you know, there is no gender in that sense, but I remember from very early on that I always referred to myself in the male gender. And I always saw myself as, as like, as a male, as a male person in that sense.

I remember that I found that very odd. And it made me really sad when, you know, my body developed into something different, which then, you know, made me understand that with the body developing like this, I, I had different expectations set upon me and well, I was, I was just supposed to be different in that sense.

It wasn’t fun and okay. And no one to walk around like a boy and refer to myself as a boy. And do all the things that boys do because suddenly, you know, my breasts were growing and that obviously meant that I suddenly, I was interested in makeup and boys and, you know, doing the traditional femme things in that sense.

So, yeah, I definitely, I do remember that Carnival, which is celebrated, but not as much, but, but it is that my mum wants, wanted to put me into a princess dress and I cried and screamed. And I said, oh God, I don’t want to be a princess and stuff. I always wanted to be male characters and my mum was fine about it.

You know, she never, she never pushed me into needing to be more female on something. She then just didn’t put me in the princess dress. So when the kid in kindergarten, when you play mother-father child’s. German children do that, I don’t know if English children do that, too… But I was always, always the father. It was always taught the other question that I would be the father in that game. No one judged it. All the kids in the kindergarten, they were happy because everybody else wanted to be the mother or the child. So, you know, it was good that somebody wanted to be the father.

Esther: So it sounds like adolescence was quite challenging then.

Jen: Yeah, definitely. That, that made it a bit harder. That was, that was when I first realized that I wasn’t a proper girl in that sense and that not being a proper girl was, you know, considered a bad thing. And you know, people telling me if you don’t put on makeup, you’re never going to find a partner. And obviously having a female body finding a male partner is the one important thing in life. So, you know, being told that all the time was definitely not easy, but I did move away from Bavaria when I was 20. So, you know, my life became a lot better at first.

Esther: Is that when you moved to the UK?

Jen: No, I moved to Berlin when I was 20 and then I moved to the UK eight years later.

Esther: Well, that must’ve been quite like liberating being in a big city.

Jen: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. It was very liberating and suddenly people didn’t think I wasn’t a proper girl anymore. People thought I was interesting and they wanted to be, you know, they want it to be around me and they wanted to listen to what I have to say. And also when I was in Berlin that’s also where I founded my fashion label.

Esther: Wow. So how did that all develop then? Do you feel like that was all linked into your own self discovery and self-expression? I guess so, you know, how could it not, I suppose, so how did that all develop for you?

Jen: But it definitely had to do with that. Cause I, I mean, I don’t, like, I always hated the fashion industry. I had no opinion about it or didn’t like it, but I did love fashion and I loved clothes and I’ve always made clothes. So I studied fashion design. And when it came to like the last year, when you do your bachelor’s degree, you know, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew that I didn’t, I wanted to do some niche work, but I didn’t know what to do.

So I went, that was in 2012, I think. And that’s when I went to my first ever gay pride in Berlin, Christopher Street Day parade. So I went there and I didn’t know anybody. And I was in one of those. What do you call them? You know, these things, the float, that’s the one I was on the float and I was, I didn’t know anybody.

And there was one person and this person was about two meters tall. And obviously physically, it was a man, but was wearing female clothes. And she didn’t know anybody either. It seemed so, you know, we started chatting. We became friends and it was very nice chatting and stuff. And I said, I studied fashion design. And at some point during the day, this person then say to me, why don’t you, why don’t you consider making clothes for somebody like me? And then she showed me that, you know, her sleeves weren’t the right length and the upper body was too big. And the shoulder, it was, it was kind of fitting, but it w it was rather ill fitting in that sense.

And well, that’s, that’s, that’s where the that’s really where the idea came from. Really. It was like, it was just a tiny little comment in that sense. I never forgot that comment. I’m still in touch with that person and I can still trace down where everything came from to that single person on that day to that one comment.

Esther: Wow. That’s amazing.

Jen: And after, after that, well, the subjects that we had at fashion school would that should be like the, the umbrella subject was innovation. And one of the, other subjects under that was gender and luckily enough, nobody else wanted to do gender. And as back then back then people would eventually, as Jenna, I was then from then on, I was gender Jenna.

So yeah, that’s when I started, that’s when I came up with the idea and that’s how I, for my bachelor’s degree, I then designed a fashion collection that was based on, I interviewed about 20 people, about 20 trans female people from Berlin. And I asked them about their personal experiences of femininity and what it feels like and looks like, and what you need to express it, where it comes from and all these kinds of things. And from these interviews, I then found like a textile expression of, of what they had said in that sense.

Esther: Right. So what did you discover?

Jen: Well, what I think what I discovered was like a bit of a, it was a very personal thing because before I chatted with these trans women, I rejected everything that was femme about me. I thought femininity is weakness, femininity is everything that’s shit pretty much. And I’m speaking with these people, to them, obviously, femininity is not everything that shit. And the things they said to me, how much they think that femaleness is, is strength and power and happiness and beauty and all these great things make me kind of reconsider my own understanding of femininity in general and on some level it’s thanks to the interviews that I did back then. And thanks to the people that I spoke. That I feel so much more comfortable with my female body nowadays. I mean, my, you know, halfway there, female identity.

Esther: Wow. Isn’t that amazing? God, that’s beautiful I love that.

Jen: And what I also did and that’s still going is I developed one still working on it. I’m developing a sizing system that is entirely new to the industry which uses, I mean, if you go to the shop, you go, you want to buy female-looking clothes, they are based around CIS female bodies. And the other way round for males. So what I’m working on is taking measurements from trans female people and creating clothes that look female, or that, that look feminine in like the more traditional understanding of femininity in that sense. And I’ve worked in that for ever since 2013 now.

And unfortunately, you know, life got in between and I didn’t believe in my project and it was, I thought, you know, it wasn’t going to succeed and, and, and then something else happened, then something else happened. But in essence, I’m still working on it. And there was a, there was a crowdfunding campaign now, not too long ago and it’s not there anymore, unfortunately, but I hope, I hope I would approach it differently next time. And what I need is for people to know about this project and to, for trans women to actually take their measurements and actually send it to me. So we could collect as many measurements as possible and create this new sizing system, because I think, I think the time is perfect for it.

Esther: Absolutely.

Jen: And the dream, if the dream is that the sizing system will be created and that. Let’s say I would approach fashion labels that I think are not ethically, totally bastardized. I can walk up to them and say, you know, we’ve got this new sizing system and obviously there’s a lot of interest in it. And you know, everybody wants to be diverse now on every fashion label wants to be on the side of the LGBT community because that’s so cool at the moment.

So on some level I could go and offer it to them and make it possible that transwomen could go to the shop and just, you know, not shop weird sizes online and have different sizes on top and bottom, but they would just have one size that will fit them. Just like any CIS person on some level.

Esther: Yeah, that is that is so needed. I think that’s a brilliant idea,

Jen: I mean, not just any cis person, obviously, but in general.

Esther: Yeah. See, that’s, that’s the thing. I mean, I’m not, to be honest, I’m not all that into fashion, fashion as such. And I’ve got like, I hardly ever buy clothes and stuff. I like quirky and unusual stuff, but I’ve definitely noticed that some brands are a bit bigger up top than the bottom.

They’ve got different proportions, you know, like some, some brands really fit me well and some really don’t and I’m sure everyone else has that problem as well. So yeah, but it’s so good to allow for more diversity in that area would like things like colors and materials are used and like stuff for ” men” is all like, you know, Navy blue and you know, like gray and stuff. And then women’s stuff is more colorful. It’s like, no, Why not make everything colorful?

Jen: Well, that’s why I didn’t venture into into, you know, the female to male version of that idea. Sometimes people ask me, you know, what do you do that? Cause I need to go. It’s just boring. You know? I mean, male fashion is unfortunately rather boring. It shouldn’t be, but it is. I mean, there’s more creative expression in clothes of females.

Esther: Yeah. That is definitely true. Yeah.

Jen: And there’s more possibility too. You know, unfortunately men don’t wear dresses and skirts.

Esther: Yeah. I mean, if they did, it would probably change. It would change that industry a lot.

Wouldn’t it?

Jen: Yes. It would change everything. I mean, if we considered a dress simply a piece of clothing that is open in the leg area, the whole of the whole society would be different. And I think on some level that wouldn’t be something that, trans identity in that sense, because it wouldn’t be “a man in a dress.” it would just be a person wearing a dress because they love wearing a dress and dress isn’t, you know, for females. A dress is simply a piece of clothing that is open between the legs, that’s it. And trousers are closed in the middle. It’s not that trousers are for men, they’re just closed in the middle.

Esther: Yeah. In the end, it’s a piece of fabric that’s just stitched together in a particular way. And then we’ve assigned these, you know, conditions to them that these person or these people can wear them. And those should not cause that’s weird and all that stuff. Yeah.

Jen: I don’t think it’s going to change very soon or not. But I mean, I’m obviously I would like it to change, but at the same time, I’m, I’m happy that it’s not going to change too soon because you know, that gives me more work. It’s like, I mean, if, if, if suddenly, you know, the whole society wouldn’t be buying me anymore and stuff, it will be beautiful. I mean, I’m not saying I would love that, but like this I can make more clothes.

Esther: Yeah. What else have you learned from, from your experiences in fashion? Anything interesting to do with gender and stuff like that?

Jen: I dunno. I mean, what I have learned is pretty straightforward. I dunno, maybe to everyone clothes are an integral part of, of gender expression is like the one, the one thing, you know, the one thing that you can go to, to, to make, to make things more obvious.

I took myself to the pub the other night and I dressed up in my chest binder and I put on my, I put on a suit and somebody in the pub asked me whether I was a guy or a girl. And I take it as a compliment because, you know, it means they don’t read me as a female straight away, which is a massive compliment. So, you know, I can change, I can change my energy and I can change how people see me by putting on, putting on a suit in that sense. And it’s empowering.

Esther: Yeah. That’s so interesting what you say about you can change your energy feel, might feel empowered.

Jen: My energy’s very different. I don’t know, my energy is very different when I, when I wear male clothes. And when I feel that I might be read to more male and I feel more empowered, but oddly enough, I also feel more empowered in that sense when I’m presenting very, very femme. And not that I, I mean, not that I ever wear makeup because I can’t do that. It’s impossible for me to do that pretty much. And I can’t wear high heels, female shoes either. But when I wear like a really sexy body hugging dress, that is. You know, totally over the top female in that sense, it empowers me too on some level because it’s extremely,

Esther: yeah, that’s so interesting. Wow.

Jen: Yeah. I don’t know. I had like I had a beautiful situation once in, I also I mean I’m in fashion design, but also work in market research on the phone. And I went when I go there, I sometimes mostly I wear, I wear shirts and trousers and I present rather male. So one time when I was there, I was in the bathroom, it was in the female bathrooms and some female walked in and she saw me and she stopped and she looked at me and like almost, almost panicky. And then she walked out again to look at the gender marker on the door, because she thought that she had walked into the wrong toilet. I was lucky I was so happy about that. It wants to females. And then she like, oh, okay then. And then, and then, and then she went to the toilet, but it was, you know, it was just a split second when she thought it was, it totally made my day, and I can still remember the room. So it was lovely how she, how confused she looked and she felt she’d walked into the men’s.

Esther: Yeah. So it sounds like just a very affirming thing to just not be read as, as, as a woman or as female. Yeah.

Jen: I mean, it definitely, I definitely feel more comfortable when I get read as male. Definitely. What’s more, it’s more me in that sense. Why wouldn’t, I mean, I wouldn’t, I don’t know. I don’t know me. I only get read as a man, but sometimes

Esther: yeah, that’s the thing as well. Friends say, and people, you know, gender diverse folks say that they might feel like expressing themselves in a particular way when it comes to how they look, but then it can also be dysphoric because they are, they’re not read the way they feel they are.

Jen: I think that’s one of the main reasons why I’m actually not really trying. I’m not trying hard to pass in that sense because I feel that it would hurt me if I tried and then I wouldn’t succeed in it. And that’s why, you know, I don’t, yeah, I don’t, I don’t do too much to pass. So every time I have passed in the past, it wasn’t because I was trying hard, but because it seems, I was just convincing because of the way, because of the way I looked.

Esther: Yeah. That makes sense. So what’s next for your fashion project besides, you know, the measuring system, as you talked about, just that

Jen: I would love to work more on the measuring system. There was a, I was trying to get some funding for an event in London where I would invite where I would invite people and I will then take the measurements and we can like put it online and do like a live stream of, of the event or something.

And I have to go back into that. I don’t really know how to approach it though. I did this crowd funding campaign and I put a video on it and I described in long long-winded words where I came from, why I want to do this, why I think it makes sense. And I believe that describing myself in very long words would, would be, would be the right thing because I would feel like people might question why I want that because I’m not trying to myself, but not many people looked at it. And actually, I mean, my friends did, but it didn’t, it didn’t store as much interest as, as I wish it had, even though, even though anybody I’ve ever talked to about this, they all think it’s a fantastic idea and it needs to be, it needs to be done in that sense.

So I need to, I need to approach this in different ways. And I think, I mean, Yes by birth I’m a millennial. So I should be really good at like computer things and internet things and stuff, but it seems unfortunately I’m one of those old fat millennials who don’t really understand social media in the way that, you know, the youngsters do. So, well, I need this to help me, help me out with stuff like that.

Esther: Yeah. Yeah. It’s all about making the right connections, I guess, with stuff like this, isn’t it. And getting people, you know, to help you spread the word and all sorts of stuff.

Jen: I thought I could do it, but I’m not. I think I’m not speaking the language of the queer folk of today.

Maybe I’m too old.

Esther: Oh, you’re never too old!

Jen: So yeah, that’s, that’s, what’s coming next and I’m doing, I mean, I’m still next to next to the, the, the clothes I make for trans women. I also do a lot of upcycling. And when friends of mine, or when, when other people have a piece of clothing, they still kind of like, but it looks crap on them or they don’t like the way it looks anymore.

I then, you know, make it look, make it look good and more interesting again for them. But I’m also in November, some like a musical professor in Birmingham is doing a drag performance and I’m doing the two costumes for this performance and the BBC that they might be interested. There’s hope too interested that November.

Esther: Ooh, that’s exciting.

Jen: Again, I’m going to be making a, like a Bavarian dress inspired costumes for this person. It’s it’s it’s going to be great. I haven’t done costume design in a while, but I used to do it back in Berlin. I took the costumes for the first ever Shakespeare in the park in Berlin. So I’m doing that is going to be a lot of fun. Yeah. Well, the idea is also to move away from this country. So I hope that at the end of the year, we’ll, we’ll be ready to move to Italy. Yeah.

Esther: Wow. International. Yeah.

Jen: Yeah. I’ve been here for five and a half years now and my partner she’s she’s English. And yeah, if we’re thinking of leaving that, leaving the island and moving to the mainland. Actually, it’s not sure we’re moving to another island thinking of moving Sicily, which is obviously also an island.

Esther: That’s fair. Yeah, totally. Yeah.

Jen: Yeah. That’s also, there’s also in, in lockdown, I came up with the idea of the Jender podcasts I spelled with J. And I might be recording something else on this, hopefully at some point, but in any case I’m still blogging occasionally on a web page that’s called And that was founded by me by my partner in the, during lockdown. It’s like, it’s primarily an event calendar, so, and it’s very, very straightforward. So let’s say in the evening, you’re sitting around in London and you don’t know, you don’t know what you want to do. You want to know what’s on tonight or what’s on now in that sense.

And what’s with all the other what’s with all the other events pages, we foundthat it’s not that straightforward to actually find out what’s going on today. What’s going on now in that sense. And that’s why we created out, but in which, which solves exactly that problem problem, you go on the webpage and it gives you the calendar straight away and it gives you straight away what all the events are that are on today.

If let’s say there’s like a drag king performance, and you want to know more about the drag king, then chances are I have actually interviewed that drag king, and you can read the interview and you can get some more background information. So we’ve got artists interviews on out but in, too.

Esther: Nice. I’ll have to check that out.

Jen: Yeah.

Esther: Is there anything that you’d like to add that we haven’t talked about yet?

Jen: Think I’ve mentioned everything. For my own self promotion.

Esther: I really loved the, what you talking about with the measuring. I think it’s just a matter of finding the right people to help you out. And it’s, it’s also a matter of timing, isn’t it? Because like you said, at the time, Maybe it just wasn’t the right time for it or something…

Jen: It has to be more catchy. What I, I do. I used like an old video and I’m not so confident in front of the camera, so I just need, yeah, I think it needs to be quicker, shorter, catchier, more shareable in that sense.

And then also on some, the individuals actually pay people, taking the actual measurements, because I think even though people might want to take part, it might feel like it’s, it’s a lot of work to actually get a measuring tape, like a measuring tape, and actually really do that in the actual meals, taking measurements and stuff.

That’s why the crowdfunding campaign was actually about creating a measuring kit where I would send through the post, I would send measuring tapes to two people and they could then share on Instagram that they used it and how they measured themselves and stuff. So that’s, that’s kind of the idea, but when it needs more work anyway, well, I think on some level, it’s good that now the first time didn’t work out, I think it’s going to be a slight bit easier to do it again because the first time I’ve put so much fear and expectation and vulnerabilityinto it, that I fear, oh my God. If this doesn’t work, you know, that’s going to question my whole existence and I have to rethink my whole life. And all the years that I’ve put into this are going to be wasted. If this doesn’t work. And I am a total failure, if this doesn’t work. And now that now that it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, and I’m still alive. And and I still want to do this and I still haven’t lost the belief in it. And I still don’t believe that in the grand scheme is going to fail. I still believe that I made, I made mistakes in, in creating it. I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t know how to share it. You know, the videos weren’t as catchy, there’s too many words and stuff. So on some level I didn’t try as hard as I could. But that gives me a good feeling, because at least I don’t have to be afraid anymore than I’ll die if, if this, if this thing doesn’t go through the roof right now, because I’m still alive and you know, my life isn’t bad at all, so,

Esther: Well, it sounds like you can now bring the right energy to it.

You know? I mean, it sounds like a really liberating yeah. You know, connections like linking it to your self worth and stuff, which is a very common thing, by the way, if you do your own thing like entrepreneurs, especially, especially women, actually, that is such a thing, such a thing. When I say women, I mean, that’s kind of the, the environment that I’m in. Like a lot of women entrepreneurs that I hang out with online, but obviously if you’re looking at a space for anything, but like CIS men, I suppose. Which have got like this whole hustle culture and all that kind of stuff. Anything other than that, that is just really challenging. And especially for, you know, if you’re gender diverse or neurodivergent, disabled, you know, anything like, you know, minority groups, then you’re, you’re looking at all this internalized conditioning. And that is just really challenging though. And I recognize it for myself as well. Like you, you just link your self worth to your your work and what you’re doing. And like, if it doesn’t work or if it doesn’t work out the way you want, then it almost feels like a sense of personal failure. And that is really difficult. Yeah.

Jen: Yeah. I know now that I’m not more of a failure because it didn’t work. I mean, luckily enough when, when it didn’t work out, I was on holiday and I was having a fantastic time. So I’m lucky enough I didn’t have time to dive into the whole self destruction thing that I normally would have done. If I, if I’d read the emails when I was in England, when I was sitting on the bed, I probably would have been much more distraught for it. Now I didn’t really have time to go into that. I was too happy at that time. Now I’m still feeling. I just have to approach it in a different way. And I still think we need that in that sense.

Esther: It is, it is so needed though. Cause it’s it’s things like that that might, it might seem like a small thing, but it isn’t, it is small things like that that build and disrupt industries. To make improvements and make it better and more accessible and more diverse, you know,

Jen: And now might also be the right time not only because there’s so much discussion about gender, but also because, because of Corona, you know, the whole production thing in fashion, you know, loads of labels are now considering thinking about. You’re doing it, not, you know, not, not like having four collections a year and stuff because, because, because of what happened.

So on some level it’s the right time. I just I don’t know. I just, I just need someone to help with my social media.

Esther: Yeah, See that that’s really good though. Like just, just recognize what you’re not comfortable with or not good at and like yeah. Get help with that.

Jen: … to realize that, because I didn’t believe that I could, I could do it, but then I’m not good at like creating likes and followers on Instagram or something like that. I don’t know how to do that. And I did do some research and I think I actually do a Google garage, like certificate on digital marketing.

Esther: Oh, wow. Yeah. And the thing is if your heart’s not in it, because the thing is like, if you’re doing your own thing, it’s, it’s a lot of work and you have to wear so many hats, you know? Cause if you go to a job, you, you get like, you have usually one main role, I guess. Generally, and that’s what you do. And there are other people who fill in the gaps around that that’s different roles, different, but done by different people. But if you do your own thing, then you’ve got to wear all the hats, you know, and you got to take one off wear the other one, some will be comfortable. Some will be not at all. And some will be downright like, ah, you know, just such a slog.

And it’s so important to, you know, recognize not necessarily your weak spots, but like, okay, this is what really lights me up. And this is what just fucking drains me and I just need to not do that if at all possible, you know, get other people who it actually lights up to help you with it.

Jen: Yeah. Well, in some areas of the whole fashion fashion thing, I did, I did enjoy doing everything myself. I mean, I do enjoy making the clothes and then going online and trying to, trying to talk to events, whether I can do a fashion show with them and talking to magazines and things. And I did, I did like all of that and, you know, organizing a fashion shooting and organizing a photographer and doing the catering myself. I enjoyed that too, cause I’m also a cook. So when that’s on that level, that, that was that lighted me up. Now that, that, that was all good. So. Yeah, but yeah, when it comes to the internet and computers, not so sure

Esther: “Someone help me with social media.”

Wow. That is so cool. I don’t know. It’s also, I learned to type on a typewriter. Yeah, I guess so maybe. Oh my goodness. Yeah. Yeah. Well, hopefully the right people and connections will come along to take it forward.

Jen: Surely. I mean, the queer community is very well connected and I’m connected to, so maybe I should just actually take a step forward and say, I’ve got this great project, got one missing is expertise in social media. Somebody help me!

Esther: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Let’s put the intention out there. You mentioned your, your partner. What are your attractions like? Are you mostly attracted to femme people, women, et cetera?

Jen: Well, I do identify, identify as bisexual in that sense, but I have, I have mostly been with men in my life and, you know, coming, coming from a Bavarian background.

It’s not that easy to even admit to yourself that, that you’re attracted to the same, the same sex in that sense. So that was a bit of a struggle, but I’m now in an incredibly lucky position because my partner is also bi gender. So my you know, fulfills my, my attraction to the male gender, and also my attraction to the female gender.

Esther: Yeah. That’s cool. So I remember, you, when you, when you referred to them earlier, I think you used she pronouns.

Jen: Sometimes we use she, sometimes use he.

Esther: Ah, so you mix it up. Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jen: He’s a fabulous person. It’s it’s, it’s it’s a really rare connection and you don’t really meet lots of people like that at all. So. And when I went to that queer rave where we met at first, I didn’t think that I would need a special person. I would then be, you know, still be with three years later, either.

Esther: Wow. Oh, that’s beautiful. Well, thank you so much for sharing Jen, and I hope you’re, I hope your project takes off. I’m sure it will.

Jen: Yeah. Well, if somebody is listening to this podcast and they feel called to get in touch with something and get their agenda, but yeah, absolutely. You don’t need to be a gen z or whatever. It’s not like that. You can be a millennial. <laughs>

About Jen

“I’m Jen and I’m a non-binary fashion designer and radical Faerie. My label is called Baal and works with and on a new size system for the transfemale community. Also, I am the founder of the Jender podcast and the co-founder of the queer blog and event calendar outbutin. In my creative work, I often use the principle of subtle asymmetry, which makes people’s heads turn without them knowing why. ?

You can find Jen’s fashion label, Baal Fashion, on and on Instagram @baalfashion and Facebook @baalfashion, and the out but in project on and on Instagram @outbutin.

What we discussed & useful links

  • We Create Space – a global collective of LGBTQ+ change-makers empowering their communities and allies with tools, knowledge and a support network for self-care, personal growth and Queer Leadership
  • Carnival
  • The Jender Podcast

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