Jenffer Jay

Jenffer Jay

I never planned to be here where I am now. I was born with many hidden handicaps and a family that liked to move because they couldn’t cope. The reason we first came up here was because my dad dreamed to find gold in 1974. I was young, going to school, what set me back from learning was moving around.

I thought at first the Yukon would be it. But after a year and half we moved. We came back in 1976 and back and forth a few times to farmland in BC and back to the Yukon. I never had a root for sticking somewhere until finally it was one of my dreams to be a cartoonist. I wanted to be famous.  I wanted to go back to school. So in 1986, I went back to school and went back to Yukon Learn and then things started going good for me.

Then my family wanted to move down south and I said no. I put my foot down. I had a summer job and I was doing pretty good on my own. I had to prove myself. Then, when they came back about a year and half later I fell into their lives and went back down south and started over again. At first it was good but my family started to be different and it was rough.  It was a small town and it was hard. I was in and out of welfare, up and down until 1987 when my mom and dad split up. And the main family came here and ever since then I’ve settled down.

Little did I know that at my next job my body couldn’t take it anymore. With my carpal tunnel syndrome my arms would get tired and that was my first let down and then I started to be myself. I came out of the closet, changed my name and that is who I am now. Even the name I had, my family didn’t like it. I didn’t want to be labeled on one side of the family or the other. I stuck to it. I went Outside, did my treatments and started over again.

Then I got a job, started at the college and found out I had diabetes. It is very hard to work with all this. You don’t have the arm power anymore – treatment is expensive. I don’t want to be a burden – it’s nice to have people help me along.

For me, the only thing that will go for me is my cartooning. I started a webpage, started a markup and I’m on welfare. My SIL worker helped me on things, I have a lot of friends, and I have Yukon Learn. I went to look for help. I knew my limitations. Now I volunteer and take part in the community. Once they called me names.

People look at me not as a poor person, but not a street person when I walk around town. I never want to go down to the point of living on the street. I’d rather go out and camp and collect cans if I ever hit rock bottom. I’ve avoided drugs and alcohol. I know when to back off. Many people have that sad part of their life.

My hard part is getting stuff that I need like money for the operation, computer and things like that. And things to help me with my handicaps – speaking, better keyboards. I’m the hidden handicapped.

People think that being an artist and transgendered means you are rich or crazy. Some people think you are a snobby or rich person. I came out and opened up. I was the first one on Social Assistance. I broke ground and I’m still breaking ground. Trying to also break ground as a cartoonist. It’s not easy but I keep on going.

It’s very hard – I didn’t choose this, it just happened but unless I win a million bucks I’ll be living like this a long time. My daily battle is to not fall through the cracks.

Sometimes I wish people would try to picture what it’s like to have a handicap, or many hidden ones, and be on welfare.  I understand that. I understand what it’s like to not have much. And I understand why there are bottles and cans of liquor on the street.

And I wish we would all remember to do unto others what others will do unto you.

Lots of people give up hope. I make my own hope. I make my own luck.