Jaedyn Starr grew up believing that the future was already set.
“I was supposed to be a Jewish girl who would grow up to be a straight Jewish woman,” Starr says. “I tried to be the person that’s called ‘normal,’ and it didn’t work.”
Starr (who uses no pronouns) first remembers feeling part of Vancouver’s larger queer community after attending an Amber Dawn reading at the Queer Arts Festival.
Spaces like those — where art and culture blend with queer elements — encouraged Starr to get involved with the Queer Film Festival and its educational arm, Out in Schools. “I feel the most welcome in organizations that are explicitly queer or trans. It’s a fun, entertaining and accessible way to bring ideas that may seem outside of the mainstream.”
As well as managing one of its theatres this year, Starr is the coordinator of the League of Diversicorns, the festival’s youth steering committee for its Rise Against Homophobia video contest.
The 26-year-old also delivers workshops independently that address issues of gender inclusion, body image and consent and is planning a countrywide workshop tour in the near future.
The work is very personal. “I tried to be a woman as hard as I could. I finally let that go and began to explore trans identities, and that has felt more natural and flexible and safe now that I have access to trans communities and trans friends.”
“Those assumptions that I put on myself ended up making it really hard to see myself as the person I am today and who I love to be. It’s only through education that we can really start to challenge and question those stereotypes.”