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Our People: Jordan Chris

Tattooed, Self-made Man

Charlotte-born late-twentysomething Jordan Chris could probably tell you a thing or two about intersectionality. His own life experience certainly warrants checking off boxes for more than a few marginalized groups: People who aren’t cisgender. People who aren’t straight. People who were socialized female. People who use hearing aids, or are part of Deaf culture. And most drastic of all, people whose visible tattoos mean they will never, ever get a real, grown-up job.

Jordan juggles all those identities with grace, though. He seems like just a regular guy. Because, of course, he is.
In advance of Transgender Day of Remembrance, this regular “self-made man” chats with qnotes about life, love and the lottery.

What misconception about transgender people, or about the experience of being transgender, would you most like to correct?
That we all transition the same. Some of us do, some of us don’t. We all go through a different journey towards being a better version of ourselves.

If it’s not too personal, how do you describe your sexual orientation?
I usually say I’m queer to those who need a simple answer, but at this point in my life I date men exclusively.

How accepting has the queer community been of you as a non-heterosexual transgender person?
Very positive. I hang out around the Woodshed and get treated like any other gay guy who walks through their door. When it comes to my other queer friends, it’s a non-issue.

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Do you think that not being hetero made it more difficult for you to figure out your gender identity? Or, for that matter, did being transgender make it more difficult to figure out your sexual orientation?
I think being transgender made it easier for me to have an open mind about my sexuality. Once I figured out I was gay, my friends were like, “Yeah and water is wet.” [laughs] I think I need new friends.

How central to your identity is being transgender, relative to other aspects of who you are? Would you say it’s more or less important than cisgender-heterosexual people imagine?
Honestly, I live a pretty humble life. I take adventures, work and try to get home in time to make dinner for me and my partner. The only time my being trans comes up is when the government tries to get involved or I have a doctor’s appointment.

Where did you get the idea for your “self-made man” tattoo?
I got this tattoo over eight years ago. I had a friend at the time who was a comic book artist turned tattoo artist. I told him one night how funny would it be if I got a cartoon version of myself with words saying “self-made man” and he laughed and said, “let’s do it.”

What would your childhood self think of the person you are now?
“Hey, you made it. I thought for sure you would be 6 ft. underground. You look amazing for almost 30 and your mom was wrong. You can find love.”

How did you react to the recent news that the Trump administration may adopt language defining gender as biological and static, essentially denying the legitimacy of trans identities?
[I was] angry but I’m not surprised at all. Our people have seen this type of treatment for centuries. We have to keep fighting no matter how tired we are. One day we will live without fear of our rights being infringed upon.

On a potentially more frivolous note, imagine you won that record lottery jackpot that’s been up for grabs: what would you do with the money?
Oh for sure get my bottom surgery. [laughs] But for real I would donate most of it to the homeless and less fortunate. Nobody in the universe needs that much money.

If you could live in any place (terrestrial or not) in any time period (past, present or future), what would you choose?
Oh my…I would want to be the Doctor’s companion. That way I could travel through time and space. How cool would that be? Did I answer that right?

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Imagine traveling somewhere incredibly remote, with no way of contacting the outside world. Are you more thrilled or petrified?
Both? It depends on what remote location you are sending me to. I feel I would adapt to my surroundings.

What skill or quality are you most proud of?
The ability to listen to others — thanks to my trusty hearing devices. Seriously though, my ability to be a loyal friend. If you need me I’m always here.

What possessions do you cherish most?
My father passed away some time ago, and I have always had this picture of him and my grandparents.

What helps you relax when you’re feeling stressed?
I’m a cliché. Reading a book, watching mindless TV, meditating or arts and crafts. Anything to take my mind off of that current stressful situation.

What cheers you up when you’re feeling down?
Being around my cat, my boyfriend’s witty humor and baking. I can’t be sad around my cat, laughing, and holding a cupcake I just made

What was the last thing that made you feel truly accomplished?
My decision to start school. I am petrified of failing, but I know in the end it will be worth the hard work.

And finally, what goal do you hope to achieve next?
To create change not just locally, but globally. It’s our time.

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