The decision to transition (from male to female) wasn’t one taken lightly by Quinn Jesso, but one she has come to terms with and is happy for doing.
The 37-year-old Stephenville resident, who officially came into 2018 as a female, said it has been a long and stressful journey for her, but in the end, it was something she needed to do for herself.
“I need to feel happy with myself before I can feel happy with someone else,” she said on Monday.
Jesso grew up in Stephenville and went through school in the town, graduating from St. Stephen’s High, then moving away to work in Montreal for some time, before returning home to Stephenville to help her father.
It was on July 19 of 2017 the transition to becoming a woman officially began.
“At first it was hard around here because it’s not something that’s common,” she said.
Jesso said, in her opinion, there are two types of ignorance — those who don’t know and those who just don’t really care about others and are hurtful for no reason.
“Those who don’t know just need to be shown that we’re no different than anybody else,” she said.
Jesso said she wasn’t “publicly out” until she and some others posed for a photo walking across the new rainbow crosswalk in Stephenville this past summer.
“I want to be a role model for the community, especially for youth so they know there are people who will stand with them and support them,” she said. “That’s something our Pride Committee is doing very well here in Stephenville.”
Jesso said she makes the joke that some people are so closeted they’ve found Narnia.
“It’s time in this day and age that people should be who they are.”
She said being transgender is harder in smaller communities, mostly because of a lack of information, but that is changing.
Jesso said when she was younger people got tormented just for being gay, but now she can be transgender and be accepted.
“There’s still people who are old-fashioned but that was their generation — there was a stigma to it which is slowly fading away,” she said.
Jesso has heard a few slurs, but they’ve been minor, and she had honestly expected some resistence, but was amazed at how accepting people are.
“It’s always nice to be surprised,” she said.
Jesso has witnessed change in the schools from when she went to now with a lot more freedom of expression today.
She experienced some dysphoria that was crippling for a while, not wanting to leave the house, but for her the transition journey continues. She's now more social and confident and feeling comfortable in the clothing and styles she wears, which has been empowering.
Making the transition has been rocky at times, but she said the end result is definitely worth it — to feel comfortable “in the skin you’re in.”
Western Pride NL Stephenville Activities:
Wednesday and Thursday at Days Inn – Education Session for frontline workers.
Thursday at 7 p.m. at Killick Café – Coffee House and Open Mic with Amy Eriksson
Friday at 8-10 p.m. at Paradise Lounge and 10 p.m. to close at The Bar and Grill (19+ Only)
Friday at 7 p.m. at Lions Club hosted by Indigenous Friendship Centre (Alcohol Free)
Sunday at 1 p.m. – Pride March from Blanche Brook Park to Killick Café (Refreshments Provided)