Lili St Jerry
1st August 2022
Photographer & Editor-in-chief: Owen James Vincent
Creative Director: Danni Ress
Interview: Amy Bell
Logo Design: Emily Curtis
Studio: HLD Studios
To kick off August with a bang! We have the talented and beautiful Lili St Jerry as our cover girl. She chats to us about becoming Lili, modelling and trans rights!
Hi Lili, Thanks for being our cover girl, how does it feel being out latest cover story?
Honestly I’m so honoured this is my first cover and it being with such an amazing person in charge, it made this experience way better than expected. I’m truly honoured thank you Owen and Amy!
We have so much to talk about, but first things first is... for people who don’t know you, who is Lili St Jerry?
I hate talking about myself as I find it cringe as fuck but for you i'll do it, Lili St Jerry is what Erika Jayne (of housewives of Beverly Hills tv icon) would describe herself as “I’m an enigma wrapped in a riddle in cash”. It basically means something very mysterious and hidden with all these elements not yet seen. That honestly resonated with me so many years ago and it stuck. I’m soo many elements there’s not just one facet to me. People find it hard to place me or describe me because I’m not just one thing. Lili alone is to me a nickname given to me before I transitioned I was about 16/17 and in my androgynous faze. I changed my name legally at twenty two to Laiah but still kept Lili for modelling purposes. St Jerry came later on when I took myself seriously and honed in on making a real career out of my talent it is also my real government name to much peoples dismay, iconic I know! [laughs]. Being a model, a trans advocate and a co designer are just the start of what I want Lili St Jerry to be in this world. I just really know the world to see what I have to offer as its still niche to be trans in main stream media. I want my name to be a household for it to be everywhere. A product almost, sounds crazy I know but I’ll be in control over the narrative so it’ll work in my favour.I want to design more act do tv etc. There’s so much I want to show the world and I’m ready to now.
Do you think we are seeing enough trans people represented in the UK?
I think its 50/50 we definitely have soo many more amazingly talented trans women, men, boys and girls who are meant to be in the spotlight and celebrated. We still have, well the industry has a long way to go before its not a stigma and just part of everyday life. We have amazing people in the limelight from Lavern Cox recently having her own Barbie to Hunter Schafer being in one of the biggest tv shows in the world & a top in demand model.
Also not forgetting home grown talent in Netflix’s popular show, Heartstopper and the it girl herself Yasmin Finney who’s so iconic at just nineteen.
I find a lot of people, have different opinions on trans people, do you think it needs to be discussed more in the media?
I think from J.K. Rowling being a terf to Piers Morgan’s & Macy Gray's recent attacks on trans bodies, the negative press is triggering as I know for a lot of my friends and me as we are just living our lives, to get to this point is such an achievement but with the negative press it’s an absolute nightmare. It’s hard to be positive when the world is against trans people every single day.
I think over the last few years the discussions have broadened and become vast. With non binary now also at the forefront along with trans lives, open discussions have helped push the rights to the forefront. While there has been resistance we will get to the point of living with our freedom.
How did you get into modelling? Is modelling something that you have always wanted to pursue?
I got into modelling from a young age so I always felt a little too comfortable in front of the camera. I got back into it by my teens as I’ve always been interested in fashion, and I’ve been doing it on and off since then.Buying my first Vogue at thirteen I always felt this desire to be in fashion 24/7. I feel like modelling is an escapism for me I feel like I’m a character and I’m living a whole new life even if it’s for a couple of hours.
Can you talk to us a bit about your trans story and how people reacted when you told them you were trans?
My trans story started when I was three years old, I was on a shoot and cried for hours because I couldn’t wear the dresses that were for the little girls as I had to wear the suits (traumatised). I remember telling my mum I wanted to go to the doctor to get rid of my boy parts so that I could finally be a girl. It’s crazy to think I was so young but I always knew who I truly was destined to be. Fast forward to my teen years and I’ve hit puberty, I’m on the fence of leaping into such major change in my life but once I did it I was the happiest I’d ever been, euphoric almost. I’ve had my ups and downs in my transition but this journey I wouldn’t change for anything.
I was lucky to have friends who supported me through it all & they’re still with me to this day. Like most parents it’s an adjustment, it took a while for my family to really grasp that I was medically transitioning, my brother took it the hardest which was a shock but I understood why years later. With my parents especially my mum it was an open dialogue but she knew and so did I that this change would mean the child she knew and loved so much was about to disappear and a she’d have to get to know a whole new version of a child she had never birthed. I left home at seventeen, so that I could focus on my life & aspirations this also meant I didn’t see my family for months or sometimes a year or two. I think this played into part because I had todo this journey alone. It’s crazy to me now being so young and making a decision without having my close nit family around, but it felt like the only way I could be me is by transitioning without me seeing other people get hurt by the loss of losing a loved one. Essentially that’s what it is the death and birth of a person and it’s not for the faint hearted, the twists and turns is what makes this journey so unique and above all worth it.
Yasmin Finney from the popular show ‘Heartstopper’ has mentioned more trans girls need to play cis characters rather than trans characters, do you agree with this?
I totally agree with anything Yasmin has to say. When I was growing up there were no trans woman in the media who I could look up to. My role models were 2000’s super models Gisele Bundchen and Daria Werbowy.
What Yasmin is saying is right we need trans girls to play cis characters because at the end of the day, cis characters have played trans roles. Why not it be the other way round. Being an actor is multifaceted so this should just be the norm. They shouldn’t be stuck just playing trans characters it makes no sense.
What are your hopes for the future and what do you want to see differently in the trans community?
My hopes are that trans woman and men are just able to live a life without prejudice and injustice. I hope we live fruitful lives, thriving in all areas of industries. I hope we achieve more than what was believed of us.
What i'd love to see from the trans community is more trans spaces, I feel like we are forgotten a lot especially during pride, which makes no sense as the woman who essentially invented pride were woman of colour Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. If the community and the government can do more for trans homelessness and job security, that would mean a better life for soo many struggling in a world against everything we do to progress in life. We will get there and like I said before we will live fruitful lives.
You can keep up with Lili's journey by following her on Instagram here.