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‘Transitioning is a lifelong journey; try to enjoy it and cherish the good times as much as you can’

The young singer Jadeya is sharing the story of her transition through her music as well as on social media

By Jadeya as told to Alastair James

I moved to London about nine years ago to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter, which is still in motion. I’ve worked mainly in queer hospitality jobs. I never expected a music career to happen overnight, especially considering I started my trans journey not long after I moved here and that took over. 

Everything I write about in my songs is based on what I’ve lived through. I have a lot of unreleased music (which isn’t just about penis), about growing up, my trans identity, and comforting my inner child. It’s just a lot more difficult to publish that kind of material.

It surprised me that I found it difficult to compose while recovering from my SRS (sex reassignment surgery) in May 2022. I had just got everything that I had ever wanted and then blank! Gradually, things have picked up again, and now I can express myself in a way I couldn’t before. I can wear what I want in music videos, which changes everything. Looking back, I can see I lacked confidence, so I can’t wait to work on more now. I can even write and rap about my brand-new beautiful vagina, which I have always wanted to do. 

Making sure my story is heard is important because I needed that. TikTok is the perfect platform because it has a large Gen Z audience. It is safer than other social media platforms and, although I’ve had some transphobic comments, there are always people defending me before I get to them. A lot of people have also reached out to me since I started talking about my transition, including a lovely woman who was on the same hospital ward as me after completing her SRS on the same day.

“Having SRS has undoubtedly changed my life forever”

I didn’t even think twice about having the surgery; it was the only option for me. I was absolutely terrified the night before but, in the morning, I was excited again. There are risks and potential complications, but they never outweighed that awful feeling I had for most of my life. I must have spent at least an hour a day thinking about how much better life would be after surgery. Now, it really is.

In terms of the recovery, the first week was the hardest, slowest, and most painful time of my life. It’s so invasive, especially dilating for the first time after having my packing taken out (it’s like a magician pulling a multi-coloured cloth out of a vagina, but with medical bandages, along with the catheter from my urethra). I was then handed a rather intimidating medical dildo to put inside me three times a day. It was quite the headfuck. However, everything has been amazing. The staff were absolute angels, as was my best friend and everyone who came to visit. 

Ultimately, having SRS has undoubtedly changed my life forever. Waking up after surgery, I finally felt like I could breathe for the first time. Before, I’d been self-critical and constantly felt dysphoric. Now I can wear whatever I want without thinking twice about it. I never thought how simple things like wearing a thong would make me feel so powerful. I can even look at myself naked in the mirror now, which is new, and I feel fine as fuck when I do. My confidence is flourishing, and this is just the beginning. I feel like my younger self would be so proud of us right now.

“At the beginning of my trans journey, I would often self-sabotage”

My relationship with my body today is the healthiest it has ever been. I feel so connected to it spiritually, physically and mentally. I’m grateful for it too. That is something that’s taken a lot of dedication and time. 

I used to be so hard on myself — as if life wasn’t already difficult enough. These days, it’s all about turning those thoughts into something positive. A lot of the time before leaving the house I would be so frantic about what to wear or if I was going to have to painfully tuck. Sometimes it got to the point where I burdened myself with negative thoughts and over time that caused a lot of harm. Now, I’m all for affirming to myself how incredible I am every day. 

Affirmations are a great way to help retrain your mind into loving yourself more, especially when you recite them daily. It doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in front of a mirror and verbally expressing how beautiful you are all the time. There is music that tells you that, there is art that shows you that. Some people think it’s bullshit, but it genuinely helps me.

Jadeya Real Bodies
Jadeya (Image: Francisco Gomez de Villaboa)

If I could go back and speak to my younger self, I’d say that no good will come from being so harsh on yourself and that not everyone is deserving of your trust or love, but that you most definitely are worthy of these things.

My body means everything to me; it wasn’t always that simple, but I truly believe it is now. It has shown me how resilient I am. At the beginning of my trans journey, I would often self-sabotage. I would treat myself awfully because I was angry at the world and took it out on myself. I had little to no hope that I would ever make it to the point of SRS, but I just powered through. I’ve always bounced back and that’s something I really admire about myself.

I was born and grew up in Dover. When I was seven, we moved to Aylesham, which (no offence) is basically just a huge field with a few shops and a train station. I remember as a kid belting out Alicia Keys’s ‘Falling’ at the top of my lungs with a tea towel on my head. I must have only been seven or eight. 

Primary school was great; I was able to freely express myself, my femininity, and I felt accepted. Secondary school was just traumatic. I was terrorised daily. And I was so glad to get out of that place. I went from being applauded for my creativity and my self-expression in primary school to being attacked for it. 

Also, I was dealing with my own issues outside of school. I was bulimic and I was diagnosed with manic depression at 15. This may trigger some people, but I vividly remember being told to cut deeper when someone saw my cuts in PE. It was brutal. I would then go to therapy after school and act like nothing happened.

“Try to take time to focus on the present and what is realistically achievable for you”

I came out as trans when I was 21. It felt so freeing, especially with all the support I received. I didn’t have the best reaction from my mum, but she came around and is now extremely supportive. I was working with a friend once and it just came out. She gave me the biggest hug, and we had a little sob. Then we got my nails done where a few of my friends worked and I came out to them, too. We had a little celebration in the nail shop with some frozen margaritas and pizza. 

For people wanting to transition, I’d say, it’s going to take a long time. I never wanted to hear that myself. This is unless you’re rich, of course! Try to take time to focus on the present and what is realistically achievable for you. I spent nearly all my early years transitioning fantasising about surgery — which I couldn’t afford. That’s all I was thinking of from the moment I woke up to the time I fell asleep, and that isn’t healthy. Do what makes you feel your best and try to find peace within yourself. Transitioning is a lifelong journey; try to enjoy it and cherish the good times as much as you can. Remember the importance of self-love and how much better life becomes when you discover this.

Trans Awareness Week Jadeya
Jadeya (Image: Francisco Gomez de Villaboa)

Given what’s going on in the UK with the constant attacks in the media, I’d advise everyone to prioritise their safety. The way the media demonises trans people creates this false narrative. Some people just want any bullshit excuse to justify harming trans people, and the media gives them exactly that. Every day I hope that it will change in time. 

Surround yourself with queer friends who are doing the absolute most to ensure you have a better quality of life from now to the future. Being trans is fucking exhausting and the least you can expect from your cis friends is to sign and share petitions, protest, and educate ignorant people. I want whoever is reading this to check in on their trans and non-binary friends, siblings, and lovers. I want to encourage cis people to do everything and more for trans and non-binary lives. 

This feature first appeared in Attitude Issue 348.