“JAC Stringer is a charming hurricane of glitter and big ideas, so cute you can’t help listen to the smart things he says (and so smart that you can’t help think about them). A brilliantly accessorized example of how flexible the ways of gender can be, and how tender.” – S. Bear Bergman
JAC Stringer (JamesAlice Catherine) is a trans-genderqueer femme, disabled, Cherokee two spirit, radical activist and performance artist. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, JAC strives to create visibility and resources for Midwestern trans communities with the heart of his work surrounding trans youth and young adults. JAC is most well-known for his role as an early genderqueer activist, particularly as a genderqueer femme where his fight for visibility lead him to be coined, “the original genderfucked femme boy.” He is highly recognized for his experience building trans community resources from the ground up and his multidimensional workshops on socially just trans activism, femme identities, accessibility, two spiritedness, and trans/queer artistry. His analyzation of the unique needs of trans Midwesterners and his ongoing dedication to trans youth has lead him to be considered an expert in fields of human service. And, he continues to play a lead role in creating social justice focused art spaces for trans people across the country. JAC draws strength from his love of his community and defines himself as a rabble-rouser working through activism, art, and many other forms of revolution.
JAC learned most of what he knows as an activist from first-hand experience. He began his adult activist career in the early 2000’s anti-war movement and, separately, as a responder to survivors of sexual assault and partner violence. When he came out as trans and queer, he came out as a trans and queer activist. Born and living in socially conservative Cincinnati, Ohio, his first experiences as a trans person were that of isolation and a lack of resources. This isolation was compounded upon by his being genderqueer as well as femme and also for his being an outspoken opposer to Gender Identity Disorder. As a result, JAC became tirelessly committed to finding other trans people to build an inclusive community. JAC describes his early years’ process as “learning how to swim while trying not to drown,” carving out spaces in small pockets of community he found through activism and drag performing. His passion for radical activism and commitment to servant leadership shaped how he sought out trans people, using whatever means he had like potluck picnics and support groups run out of his living room. He soon after began teaching trans 101 workshops any place that would have him and lobbying local gay community organizations to welcome trans members. In 2006 he founded Southern Ohio’s first ever transgender student organization, GenderBLOC at the University of Cincinnati where he successfully fought for trans related resources and policy change. This expanded into building city, state, and then regional resources around trans community building, discrimination, and anti-pathologizing trans healthcare. In 2008, he founded the country’s only regional trans health advocacy organization Heartland Trans Wellness Group where he served as director for seven years, six of which he was the only full time organizer. His strong passion for creating community spaces brought him to design a model for trans group programs which has been used in multiple Midwestern cities by non-profit organizations and community lead initiatives. It’s success is best seen in JAC’s first group program, Cincinnati Trans Community Group which continues to be one of the largest and most active trans support groups in the country. Among his national work, JAC has been an organizer on several local and national organizing boards including Advocates for Youth, The Femme Conference, The International Drag King Community Extravaganza, The LGBTQ Task Force Leadership Summits, and The Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. Over a number of years JAC gained an academic background in Psychology of Trauma and Gender and Sexuality Studies, and later a Master’s in Social Work specializing in counseling and group work. In 2015, JAC began to additionally work as a mental health counselor and case manager for at-risk trans teenagers. In 2017 JAC founded an activists’ support group, Trans Identified Providers Support (TIPS) where trans people working in human services and education can find community.
As a performer, JAC has done genderfucking dance, poetry, prose, music, and drag everywhere from grand scale theaters to dive bar floors. Primarily self-taught, he combines a speckled arts education of living room dance lessons, classical training, and mimicking old movies. His unique style and storytelling abilities around bodies, history and, androgyny led to his being well known as an genderqueer performer in a variety of performance styles. JAC is lovingly devoted to the drag community, the drag king stage being first place he found queer family. He co-managed his small-town drag troupe The Black Mondays for its eight years running and the troupe became nationally known, as was the second troupe JAC joined, The Royal Renegades of Columbus, Ohio. Drag was JAC’s initial avenue for performing around the country and with that he found means for both self-expression and activism. Starting in his early years of performing, JAC along with the few other genderqueer performers at the time collaborated to build stages that welcomed genderqueer and otherwise non-binary performances, the most notable being the “Gender Queeries” tour which JAC founded in 2011. These collaborations lead JAC to produce more queer performance showcases centered on social justice from local shows to ones of international draw including Fabulously Fluid!, Philadelphia Trans Health Conference’s Blender!, and Mind the Gap. And while JAC enjoys putting on the big shows, his first fight for a stage started with a year-long push for Cincinnati’s first college campus drag show, which still runs at the University of Cincinnati twice a year. JAC’s love of performance is rooted in his experiences of being “the only one,” whether it is from his being trans, genderqueer, femme, Native, disabled… They all have created moments in need of being expressed. JAC’s considers all of his artistic work to be a means of self-care as well as community activism; creating empowering messages of visibility, creativity, and a sense of belonging.
JAC currently lives in Minneapolis, MN where he works as a mental health counselor for trans youth as well as being a freelance trans educator and an artist.