Meet Jaimie Wilson, a Transgender Activist With Guitar in Hand
Posted January 26, 2018 8:09 p.m. EST
Hometown: Howell, Michigan.
Now Lives: In a two-bedroom apartment in the East Village of Manhattan that he shares with a roommate.
Claim to Fame: Wilson is a budding folk-pop musician and baby-faced model who appears on the most recent cover of Candy magazine, as well as in advertisements for the skimpy men’s underwear brand 2(x)ist. He is also something of an LGBT activist by being a plainly outspoken transgender man to his hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook and Instagram. “Music has the power to bring people outside of the community into the community,” he said.
Big Break: In March, about a year after he began transitioning, Wilson posted before-and-after photos (some shirtless) on Facebook that racked up 13 million views. The actress Ruby Rose said he was “looking like a young Channing Tatum.” The rapper Lil Wayne wrote, “Wow.” Wilson said, “People didn’t start listening to my music until after my transition, which is funny because I had to really practice to regain my singing voice because my vocal cords had changed so drastically.”
Latest Project: In 2015, he started a clothing swap program in Michigan for transitioning men and women called T Is for Trans. But like most New Yorkers with small closets, he had to close up shop when he moved to the city. He still does the occasional giveaway of chest binders (compression garments that reduce the appearance of female breasts) through Instagram Stories. “Clothing is the last thing you want to think about when you’re spending most of your money on hormones and top surgery funds,” he said.
Next Thing: In February he will release his first EP, funded on Kickstarter, “Life Is a Journey.” After playing at last year’s Sziget Festival in Budapest alongside Pink and the Chainsmokers, he plans to make his first official music video and continue hitting the road. “In the future, I want to be one of those people where other artists might say, ‘I got to headline with Jaimie Wilson.'”
Pretty Hurts: While he has received an outpouring of support about his trans identity, there are plenty of detractors both online and off. “I had people tell me I can’t be transgender because I was such a pretty girl or because I didn’t show the signs,” he said. “I want to show other people out there that despite what you look like or how people view you, you can do whatever you want.”