“You have the power to be nothing, or be everything,” says AJ Clementine, vibrant YouTube personality and woman sharing wisdom on her gender transition.
Living with her innate sex has always been a struggle for AJ. Born biologically male, she felt that acting and feeling like a man were her only options, until the confusing world of sexual identity and the changes of adolescence (puberty yo!) crumbled down around her.
“As children you don’t have any concept of life, you just do what makes you happy and are oblivious to gender and the things that are related to it. When things started to happen in my teen years, I hit a slump and had my trans-realisation – I knew there was something deeper than all of it.
“Puberty was a reminder that my biological sex was coming through and I was becoming more masculine, that’s when I realised I needed to transition, because that didn’t align with how I felt within myself.”
Transitioning from a male body to a female body is an incredible process, difficult and rewarding for AJ who describes it as having to go through puberty twice. At 15 years old, she was passing as a male fully, overweight and overindulgent in self-loathing.
AJ explains, “Puberty wasn’t fun for anybody, but having to do it again, wasn’t cute. Transitioning was something I’d always excuse, it would always lead me to thoughts of it being unnatural and something that would ruin my body. But, I’d be hurting myself mentally if I didn’t do it.”
The defining moment in AJ’s journey of personal discovery was her 16th birthday, miserably reminiscent of every high school drama from the ‘90s. A lonely teen, she wanted to host a grand party and invited people that she thought were her friends, only to find just one would make an appearance.
Clementine loved parties, but when her birthday only catered for two, the mask that shielded her true self was lifted and she vowed to not only change her gender, but wanted to refresh her entire identity.
“That was the moment in my life where I understood no one really cares about the fat kid, and I didn’t really care about the fat kid either.”
Over semester break she dumped all of her clothes, dyed her hair, exercised every single day to lose the weight that was stifling her confidence and watched hours of makeup tutorials on her favourite video sharing platform. When she finally came back to school, she was a new person.
Her newly founded self-love lead AJ Clementine down a different path, one that saw her share everything with a community of viewers who now look to her for advice and inspiration.
AJ finds that YouTube is, “A community that feels like a home, a safe space, it’s all there. You can be in the comfort of your room and you can connect with so many people. I felt like I could share something with others that would have the same effect that it did on me in high school. I always felt like I needed to repay the platform, because it helped me so much.”
Although sharing herself so openly has benefited the lives of so many, like others in the trans community, AJ has also received backlash for her choices. Branded as unnatural by internet trolls, she tends to look at it differently to most, “There’s no way I’m trying to hide the fact that I was biologically born a male, that’s me and that’s my past, but if everyone looks at their birth records they’ll find that they’re not the same weight or the same height as they once were. They’re not the same anymore. I don’t understand the hate, but I get where it comes from, people just don’t understand some things.”
Since 2012 AJ Clementine has built her social media presence on YouTube, sharing a catalogue of over 100 videos with an audience striving to embrace their own identities. AJ fields questions about gender, sexual orientation and life as someone progressing through transition – embracing an influencer role in the online LGBTIQ+ community.
AJ began to biologically change her body last year, beginning hormone therapy treatment on January 12th. Since that time, AJ’s videos have reached over 9,000 subscribers and her channel now sits at over half a million cumulative views. Her original apprehension to share her journey has been overcome by the interactions she’s had through the platform.
“I thought about if for a long time, there’s so much judgement towards transgender people documenting their journey. People wondering why someone diagnosed with gender dysphoria would ever want to be in front of a camera, consumed by pictures, when they’re supposed to be self-conscious. I didn’t care, I wanted to sacrifice everything and be able to share what I went through.
“I didn’t want people to have years of their youth, or whenever they have their realisation, to spend that depressed and not knowing who they are. There’s so much beauty in knowing who you are.”
“You don’t think about loving yourself until you get older, as a kid you just love yourself no matter what you do or how gross you are. There’s still so much inside of me who’s continuously trying to love every aspect of who I am as a person. But, it’s a growing thing, continuously, over your whole life.
Words by Harrison Johnstone
IG – @harrisonjohnstone
Interview with AJ Clementine
IG – @ajclementine_