JAIMIE strides into the salon wearing dark shades with long, brown locks cascading to one side. She appears mysterious and aloof. She’s statuesque in heels, easily towering above the six-foot mark without shoes. The sunglasses are whipped off to reveal sultry blue smokey eyes. She'd made an entrance without even trying. But then I hadn’t expected anything less than this brazen show of confidence from Jaimie, a regular winner on the beauty pageant scene.
...she’s built like a brick shit house and pulls out a crop top. She’ll say 'it’s sexy', I’ll say 'not on you'
Jaimie is a proud transgender woman, having made her much-deliberated transition in January 2014. I’d soon come to understand that staging show-stopping entrances, turning heads and sparking curiosity has become part and parcel of her journey.
“It’s quite easy to be confident when wearing sunglasses. You can pretend you don’t see the stares,” she tells me. “There’s no real way of dealing with it so I put up a good front.
"I don’t like passing kids on the street – most of the time they don’t even say anything but I worry. I push myself to be confident. A lot of trans people spend twenty years indoors and never leave the house.”
We’re at The Beauty Guru salon in MediaCityUK to talk about make-up and the pivotal role it can play in the journey of a transitioning woman. Sam Marshall, the owner of the salon, has been working with transgender women for two decades. Sam is a member of Born UK, a Manchester-based makeup and styling studio, specialising in trans beauty, confidence and self-esteem.
Based on Sackville Street in the city's Gay Village, Born UK is an all-encompassing service – from voice training to relationship advice - designed to better the lives of the city’s transgender people. Eyebrow reshaping also plays its part in the process and that’s where wax-specialist Sam Marshall comes in: “I remember seeing Jaimie for the first time and thinking 'Wow she's pretty, who is she?'
Sam says she’s been enamoured by trans women ever since a part-time trans woman volunteered for a live male waxing tutorial. "Michelle would turn up to the male waxing tutorials as Steve, go in the toilets get changed and come out as Michelle. We’d wax her in stockings and suspenders. I had to say ‘her penis’ throughout – which I never once faltered on,” she explains.
“I just feel a warmth towards them,” she adds, “I just felt I could help them."