Ulelli: Hi, so can you tell me your name and...
Zelica: My name is Zeleca Julien and I does go by Zeleca alone most times and I am from Trinidad.
Ulelli: So, tell me what it is like for you in the LGBT community here.
Zelica: Well, I am one of the Co-directors of I Am One, which is an organisation that deals more with artistic and research content within the LGBTQI+ community, so for me, it’s more of a uh… what you does call that… a leadership role within I Am One and by extension within the LGBT community in Trinidad. So, we just focus on doing more community building and development at this time.
Ulelli: Yeah, so tell me a bit about the way you dress and how is it for you, what is it like for you when you walk, when you travel around in Trinidad? How do people receive you?
Zelica: Yeah, umm… well I dress more masculine, and it’s more so because of comfort because most masculine clothes are more comfortable than feminine clothes and in terms of how it is received by the Trinidad community, it’s different at certain times. Generally, nobody cares or at least that is how I see it, or maybe over the time immune to it but generally nobody cares. A small number of the time most people respond actually positive to it and they would treat me with a more serious level of engagement and one or two times you would get the lil stares which I have become like blind to.
Ulelli: So you don’t really get negative, more positive. How long have you been presenting like this?
Zelica: Probably about three to four years… yeah.
Ulelli: And how do you identify?
Zelica: As she.
Ulelli: As she...
Zelica: Yeah… but I don’t mind he or they either…
Ulelli: Hmmm… you are comfortable with that?
Ulelli: What do you want to tell or express to people who do not understand much about gender expression and why sometimes people choose to dress outside of the binary.
Zelica: Well, I mean gender expression is just like any other expression except that it does have more stigma with respect to society, because I don’t know, people just like to know if you are male or female. They doesn’t feel good unless they know if you have a penis or vagina between your leg and your clothes supposed to be able to tell them that, so I guess most people just get confused if you dressing differently from your assigned sex. It’s just like any other kind of expression, like if I is a dancehall artiste, I guh express myself in a artistic way, wear plenty colours, look swaggerific all the time. If I was a politician, I guh wear suit and tie, you know what ah mean, so if is a rastaman, I guh wear meh fucking bobo band shanty clothes, meh Selassie I kit and if I feel to dress like a boy, I dress like a boy. Is the same kind of expression is just that people just have a stigma when it comes to switching gender roles.
Ulelli: Why do you think it is important for people to know whether it is a man or a woman in front of them or behind them or I mean if they can’t identify, they get so confused and concerned and even so bold that they walk up to a man or a woman and they ask whether they are a man or a woman?
Zelica: I think because in the Caribbean especially it’s new, but it’s not new and I am sure they always had people dressing out of the norm but it’s becoming a more household discussion now, politically, regionally and even internationally. So even in Trinidad you now starting to hear more people talk about it and be more familiar with it nah… however… sorry, what was your question?
Ulelli: Why is it important for persons to find out or make it their business to know who is male or female?
Zelica: I think it’s just a fastness, it’s just a… for most people, they just want to know, they feel they must know… I don’t know, the same way how they does socialize their children from birth male or female, you know wha ah mean, they just... I don’t know if they scared about it… I don’t know…
Ulelli: Like as soon as they see I am pregnant, is it a boy or girl?
Zelica: Yeah… I don’t know, gender is something people just like to know, it’s not the same, like people don’t get offended if you tell them if them is a Catholic and you tell them you is an Anglican or a Hindu. They don’t get offended for that. They don’t get offended if you, you know, you represent a different political party than they representing. But as soon as you step out of the gender norm, it jus be personal to them, all of a sudden like… you know wha ah mean. So, I really don’t know, I just think is probably ignorance and it’s not in the norm for them and is probably more visibility, it might probably help that or what not.
Ulelli: Ok, anything else you want to add?
Zelica: Well, I will just add a little bit about the work we do with I Am One cos I suppose that some of the projects that we did with the first PRIDE Festival this year, like the King Show and a lot of the characters in the Calypso Cabaret and stuff nah, just to challenge the norm in terms of how gender is presented and expressed because it’s fluid, you know wha ah mean…
Ulelli: Yeah, I believe it’s fluid too and I have seen that it is fluid. Today, you wake up, you feel one way, you dress this way, tomorrow, you wake up, you feel different, you dress totally different. You express it.
Zelica: But it’s only acceptable for only certain people like if you name Prince, or yuh name Michael Jackson, yuh could get away with it …
Ulelli: True, well thanks.
Zelica: No problem.