Jesse Aviv, He/Him/His
We discovered Jesse Aviv from our good friends at them. They shined light on his experience of being in the "middle" by existing in society as a women all while transitioning into a man. After chatting with him, we discovered there are deeper struggles of trans issues as still being very outside of the LGBT community. But through it all, Jesse continues to break barriers, educate others and prove his worth. He is currently in London for an accelerator program for social entrepreneurs called the Hult Prize as part of an energy-related challenge. Um, how COOL is that?! Read on to discover more amazing things Jesse is up to and how he continues on the Up and Up!
Jesse, you can be described as a student, an entrepreneur, a world traveler, etc. But who are YOU?
I don’t have a good answer for that. I’m taking some time off school and hoping to feel more settled in myself. Maybe then I’d be able to tell you more about who I am.
Currently, you are located in London working on an accelerator program for social entrepreneurs and you mentioned how much being yourself affects this experience. Can you describe why you think this is still an issue in business?
This program includes people from all around the world - from Germany to Jordan to Zimbabwe. I barely knew about transgender folks myself before coming out, so I have no idea how much exposure the people around me at this program have had. Some people think I’m a woman, some a man, and others seem to still not be sure. While I’d like to be visible and an advocate, I’m also here with my team competing for a million dollar prize, and don’t want to set us behind due to discriminatory attitudes. For the most part, I’ve let people use whichever pronouns they will without comment.
What about previous works that have been recognized under your given name - how do you still hero your past accomplishments and adapt it into the present without not feeling 100% yourself when looking back?
I haven’t quite figured out how to present the work I’ve done in the past. There are several co-authored abstracts and papers under my deadname and I haven’t decided how to approach that on my resume or other applications. Even my past mentors and bosses wouldn’t recognize my name when called for a reference. In a sense, I feel my past accomplishments have been erased with my deadname. There may be a period of time in which I out myself as trans in every application so employers and schools can see my past accomplishments. I’m hoping to build up enough new work to replace those fairly soon though.
You were featured by good friends of ours over at them. This highlight was incredible and we are so proud of you! Can you describe these experience of being involved in a community so talented and accepting?
Having a community has made the whole experience of transitioning easier. I haven’t met many trans people in person, so it has been incredible to feel acceptance and love from the LGBT community virtually and to be able to watch the transitions of so many other transmasculine folks like me. The importance of these guys to me in my transition is a large part of why I want to be visible for others.
Visibility is an interesting issue in the trans community, because “passing” is the goal of so many trans people. There’s nothing wrong with passing (I can’t wait to pass), but it’s something that keeps trans folks who are just coming out from seeing much representation in the real world. I’ve almost cried upon glimpsing a trans guy at a restaurant table next to mine a few weeks ago, just because I was so happy to see someone like me. But at the same time, it’s likely that guy would have rather been cis-passing at that moment, so I felt a bit guilty in my joy.
For those reading this who are going through the transition, can you share your best piece of advice? What about those who want to, but have many roadblocks in their way?
The advice that’s getting me through my transition is “trust the process.” I’ve been anxious for every change, but they come in their own time. I don’t know if I’ll ever be cis-passing, yet I’ve realized I don’t have much control over that. The more I am comfortable in my own body, the less misgendering gets to me, and the more I’m able to celebrate those everyday moments when I’m gendered correctly.
For those who have roadblocks ahead, I’d just say you’re gonna make it. It can be a long and frustrating process to medically transition, but imagine the decades you will get to spend living your truth.
What’s next for you, Jesse?
I’m not so sure. My priority at this point is to grow into myself a bit more and see where that takes me. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who are willing to support me along the way.
To witness Jesse's journey, you can find him here @jesseaviv
Interviewed by Emily