AJ Clementine always knew she was a girl. The problem was, she’d been born in a ‘magical’ shell that looked, on the outside, like a perfect little boy. In her teens, this conflict between her outer and inner selves exploded, igniting years of anxiety and panic attacks.
In AJ Clementine’s Girl, Transcending (Murdoch Books, £16.99), AJ shares the journey of her gender transition, what it was like to grow up Wasian in a blended family, and her transformation into a model, digital creator and transgender advocate. Her advice, reflections and snippets of inspiration offer a powerful tool to help us understand and celebrate what makes each of us unique, not only those in the LGBTQI+ community but anyone finding their way in the world. Honest, positive and empowering, AJ shines a light on her path to self-love and acceptance – the hardest bits, the parts we rarely see – in the hopes of a brighter, more inclusive future for all.
In the UK, it’s estimated that only 1 per cent of the population identify as being trans. As such, the trans community have suffered from years of abuse and inequality due to an uninformed population. In AJ Clementine’s Girl, Transcending, AJ lifts the veil on what it has been like to grow up with gender dysmorphia, having essentially been born with a female brain inside of a male body.
In AJ’s teens, this conflict between her outer and inner selves exploded, igniting years of anxiety and panic attacks. Her book shares the journey of her gender transition, what it was like to grow up Wasian in a blended family in Australia, and her transformation into a model, digital creator and transgender advocate. Her advice, reflections and snippets of inspiration offer a powerful tool to help us understand and celebrate what makes each of us unique, not only those in the LGBTQI+ community but anyone finding their way in the world.
How has your path to love and self-acceptance as a trans woman been?
It’s been a work in progress, there are parts of my life that have brought me so much euphoria and love for myself. Even with all the self-acceptance, I still continue to work through all the hurdles I face with dysphoria and how I feel about myself. It’s definitely an ongoing process.
What does being trans mean? Being trans simply means you do not identify with what you were assigned with at birth, trans can refer to a transition which from its Latin origins of the word means “across”.
What is this book about?
‘Girl, transcending’ is about my life and journey, navigating the world as a Filipino transwoman and sharing my advice along the way.
What made you want to write a book?
Because of the lack of diversity and visibility in the stories about trans people, the recurring trope is usually portrayed as the villain, the comedic relief, subject relating to porn, or the tragic story. I wanted to change the narrative and share something real.
Is our society becoming a safer and a more inclusive space for trans people?
It’s definitely becoming more educated but I don’t feel like we are there yet in terms of society being safer and more inclusive for trans people, the rates in which we are being murdered is higher and our voices are still not at the forefront in terms of discussions involving us or the LGBTQI+ community in general.
What are the issues that trans people still face nowadays?
Abuse and being overly sexualized because of the past portrayals of us, a lot of toxic masculinity destroys the lives of many trans people and there’s so much to work towards to do better.
Is there more visibility and awareness about trans people now?
There is definitely much more visibility and awareness thanks to social media, so much more than I had growing up. With the rise of social media, it’s created a want and need for visibility which has helped others try to understand and uplift us.
What were the challenges you faced as a teenager and how do you feel now?
My biggest challenges as a teenager were dealing with male puberty and not knowing how to navigate that as a young woman, it felt like torture and I don’t wish that upon anybody. The way I feel now is simply healing from my past, I feel much better but there are some things we can’t reverse.
How did your life change after the gender reassignment surgery?
I wasn’t truly living before GRS, every trans person is different but my genital dysphoria was really bad and this surgery literally saved my life.
What advice would you give to people who look up to you and have similar stories?
Take everything at your own pace, you don’t need to have everything figured out, and don’t rush anything that you’re not truly ready for.
Who are your inspirations?
My bestie Bambi Fairy, my sister Kiana, my Filipino mama, Hilary duff, Zendaya and of course Kim Petras.
Are you in love?
What are your future plans?
To become an actress and tell more diverse stories on screen.