Jarrid Jones is a genderqueer POC photographer, performer, and activist. They have worked in the fashion industry since the age of 16, collaborating with notable artists such as Mike Ruiz and Nelson Castillo, lending their eye and artistic direction in spreads for Vibe Magazine, Distinct Homme, TimeOut New York, Jones Magazine, and more. Jarrid has also performed on some of New York's most prestigious stages, leading in critically acclaimed productions of In the Heights, Disney’s High School Musical, and AIDA.
How do you identify, and what does that identity mean to you?
I identify as genderqueer or gender non-conforming POC (Person Of Color). This means that I do not adhere to the binary social construct or the gender that I was assigned at birth. My gender expression is 100% genuine, with all of its flamboyancy and elaborate details. Being just a boy or just a girl wasn't enough for me, especially with society's ideals of what each of those represented, it never felt right to stick to just one construct or even be a part of it.
Have you gotten pushback from more binary trans folks who identify as male/female?
Not directly. I think the only pushback I struggle with from some binary trans folks is the idea of validation, the acceptance and respect that my identity is real and not a phase between the binary, or a reflection of my sexual preference when the case is that I, as an individual gender non-conforming person, have no desire to be male or female or follow cis conformity. I am not just some gay boy who wants to dress up like a girl, it's beyond that. I battle everyday with this need from other people cis and trans to put me in a box and make my label according to what I look like and who I'm sleeping with.
How does fashion impact the way you move through the world? What do clothes represent? What do they allow for or prohibit?
Fashion for me is my expression, my fight, my activism, and my safe haven. If I feel beautiful with my outward appearance, according to my own beauty standards, then I feel beautiful and content internally. It allows me to open conversation to people who would never think to speak to me and spread acceptance, love, and especially appreciation. I spend a lot of time of creating the image that I feel outwardly expresses who I am. As for prohibition, it really depends on what I'm being blocked from. If my style and fashion and outward expression don't comply with a specific person or place's standards, than I simply would rather not be there. Other than music I feel clothing is one of the great universal languages that speaks to so many people. It's a physical monologue that allows people to speak loudly and unapologetically without ever opening their mouths.
Is there something people ask you that you're totally sick of? Is there something you'd like more people to ask?
There are so many! But If I had to choose, it would probably be, "So, you want to be a girl?" I swear you give people your identity, your pronouns, your transition story, and your full-on queer journey and they come up with the most basic conclusions. Sometimes I just wanna fire back with, "So, you want to be a complete idiot?" But I realize people process things at different times and at their own speed. I would love for people to ask how I attain my freedom within myself and the society I live in. I can talk for hours on letting go of construct and enabling oneself to live one's own truth and not the narrative society writes for them.