Imagine not knowing which restroom to use when you are out.
Imagine being defined by your body parts.
Imagine having to tell a reporter what pronoun to use to refer to you on second reference.
Meet JAC Stringer
: A 28-year-old trans-genderqueer activist who has been striving to create visibility, community and resources for Cincinnati’s transgender and genderqueer communities. In general, genderqueer people are those who identify their gender outside the gender binary system of male and female.
But to identify Stringer with a term, a word or a description is to do the Clifton resident a disservice. Stringer, while slight in appearance, is a powerhouse of action, thought and leadership in the mostly invisible transgender and genderqueer communities in Cincinnati, a city he has chosen to remain despite its challenges
“This is a city that has made progress, but for the trans community not nearly enough; and that’s more than disappointing, it’s inexcusable,’’ says the Cincinnati native. “The fact is this is a great city and an up-and-coming city. But it remains a city with zero resources for the queer and trans community.
“I stay because I believe at some point … I know Cincinnati can do this,” he says, gazing outside a coffee shop window onto Ludlow Avenue. “I want people to have it better than I did. So I stay.”
And he works. Stringer earned his undergraduate degree in psychology and women’s gender and sexuality studies at the University of Cincinnati. He is currently working on a Master’s degree in social work at UC and is currently a social work administration and research intern for a labor union. He is also an educator, a performer, an artist and a trained conflict mediator.
When Stringer came out while an undergraduate seven years ago, there was no community where he fit, he says. So he set out to make one and has not stopped since. His 20-page resume lists accomplishments and achievements – many of which were ironically earned in traditional institutions.
He helped create GenderBloc
at the University of Cincinnati, which is a support and social student group that focuses on gender issues through education and activism. He also founded the Genderqueer Coalition of Cincinnati
. He founded the Midwest Trans and Queer Wellness Initiative
and the Cincinnati Trans Community Grou
All the groups align with Stringer’s mission: To create a safe community, to educate and enlighten and to advocate for social justice.
“I knew I wanted to be activist. It is the only thing that made me feel useful,’’ he says. “If I can live my politic and be true to myself, that should come through my work.”
What does success look like for Stringer?
“Success is measured one person at a time, but there is always one more person,’’ he says. “It’s an endless job … Theoretically, things area easier than they were, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for each individual."
So he stays. He organizes. He fights.
• Become involved in the Midwest Trans and Queer Wellness Initiative.
• Follow Midwest Trans and Queer Wellness Initiative on Facebook
• Learn more
about the community.
• Attend a meeting or social event
of one of the communities Stringer founded.
By Chris Graves
Email Chris Graves.