Human: Jade Adams
Country: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Domain: Data Science and Analytics, International Affairs, Business Studies
Job Profile: Data Analyst/Data engineer
One of the most famous American writers, Henry David Thoreau, had eloquently described the importance of self-discovery in his famous books.
‘Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.‘Henry David Thoreau
Some people are fortunate enough to find themselves in a heartbeat, while others spend a lifetime searching for their place in the world, and still others are courageous enough to embark on the journey to discover their true selves no matter what it takes. This is one brave woman’s journey of not just self-discovery but a reinvention of their life.
So here’s introducing the exquisite Jade Adams, a data analyst by profession and living in Brooklyn, NY and whose transitioning journey has not just broken the internet but also shone a spotlight on the trans community and the need for inclusivity and representation in the tech industry. She represents the changing face of the tech domain and divides her time campaigning ardently for gender rights and equality in workplaces as well as mentoring people who are looking forward to getting into the tech space regardless of who or what they identify as.
Jade recalls growing up in the sunshine state of California and graduated from UCLA in 2019 majoring in Business Economics. She also had a keen interest in world literature and languages and minored in Arabic and Islamic studies.
‘My goal was to study international affairs and I enrolled in a fellowship in Cairo, Egypt. I got into a program that allowed me to work in the American University in Cairo and study Arabic at the same time.’, she remembers.
The bright young lady was excelling in her studies and research. She had even been accepted into a master’s degree program in Colombia, but there was something missing in her life.
‘I had wanted to transition for a long time and touch base with who I am.‘, she reveals.
She recalls being in Cairo when the pandemic hit, and then returning home to stay with her then-girlfriend in San Francisco before moving to New York. She had come out to people near and dear to her in December of 2021.
She recollects, ‘I took a leap of faith. So many of my close friends and my sister Kat have supported me throughout this journey. Kat is another queer person in my family and a stable source of support for me.’
A safe haven was what she wanted when she made the decision to live as authentically as possible.
She explains, ‘As a trans woman and someone who is a gender non-conforming person, I was looking for a career where I can live my life. I now live a very happy queer life in Brooklyn.’
The LGBTQ community in Brooklyn has provided a safe place of refuge and acceptance for this new chapter of her life.
‘My friends have always known me as the happy-go-lucky person and I have never been more happier than I am now.’, she admits.
Life, she reveals, is all about being true to herself and finding simple joys in the people and things around her. She narrates a heartwarming story about a little impromptu date she had with one of her best friend who lives a block away and had just come back one evening from an art gala.
‘My best friend is in art school and had just returned from an art gala. I had also come back from a date, and we went to the only open establishment – Burger King – at 1 a.m. and stayed for an hour. It’s the small things that count. ‘, she remembers.
In spite of all the support and love pouring in from her family, friends and acquaintances, there are a lot of hurdles to cross along the way. She acknowledges that there are people she grew up with who do not want to see her transformation and accept her for who she is.
She admits, ‘I’ve learned not to conform to the expectations of others over the last two years of completely restarting my life. There is a lot of hatred in the world, and it is important to learn how to start over again.‘
This new chapter in her life has finally given her the freedom to be who she wants to be and find the inner peace she has been longing for so long.
‘I have never more happier than these past two years. Transitioning has been key to my mental health. It’s a statement of pride to own who I am.’, she confesses.
Finding a niche
The path hasn’t been straightforward for Jade’s new stage of life. She admits how a lot of people do take their time to accept her identity and job opportunities rarely come without judgements. She knew that working in technology would give her the possibility of living her own life. Her previous experience in a business program at UCLA exposed her to the fields of mathematics and statistics, which are the foundations of data science.
‘I realized that data science would be the best option to provide me with that safety net, allowing me to work remotely while still living my life. So I picked up data science, Python, SQL and computer science along the way. I am now getting interviewed by Google, Zoom, Amazon … it’s crazy.’, she reminisces.
She describes how she has always been good in soft skills and her previous experiences in international affairs gave her exposure to diverse working environments. And she had been wanting to improve her hard skills for a long time.
‘I needed to protect myself from some of the interpersonal issues that trans women and women in general face in the workplace. Having both soft and hard skills gives me a better work-life balance so that I can live my life peacefully.’, she describes.
Isolation and loneliness are two of the most prevalent issues in the post-pandemic world we live in. She has personally observed how the tech industry is still adapting to the changing world around us.
She narrates, ‘There are many important things that needs to be addressed like the gender pay gap. We tend to live in a very confined robotic world. It’s a challenge to find companies that are inclusive and are culturally respectful.’
It is an area in which she has been a passionate advocate: raising awareness about the issues that the LGBTQ community faces in the tech domain and providing solutions to create a healthy working environment.
‘I was always a people’s person and I knew data science would be a good fit as it provides a lot of client facing work. I like to have that balance.’, she reveals.
In the beginning, she recalls how she was hesitant to talk to recruiters and find mentors or professionals who could help out with her career. A lot of the uneasiness came from a fear of being not the right fit or not having the years of experiences required for the job.
‘I was confused about the mechanisms to crack these tech companies. I was gatekeeping myself as I felt like I didn’t fit in the roles that were available. Now I know how to ask the right questions.’, she asserts.
This spirited young woman is now looking forward to the next stage of her career and hopes to one day become a senior data scientist or a data engineer.
‘I would say take time to learn broadly about the data science domain. Be open minded early in your career as there is so much opportunities out there. Try to branch out and explore.’, she advises.
A lot of companies have come forward and made progressive changes in their workplaces to create a more diverse industry. These impactful initiatives provide hope particularly for minority groups and LGBTQ communities to have equal opportunities and rights in the tech domain.
‘I am really glad that companies have started to value gender diversity. All we want is to feel welcome and protected.’, she explains.
A transitioning journey
There has been trailblazing LGBTQ technologists who have paved the way for achievements and progress in the tech industry. A couple of the amazing trans women creating a mark in the domain includes Alexandria Thylane, whose story has been an inspiration to Jade.
‘I got into a exclusive LGBTQ mentorship program right before I turn twenty-five. I also have a wonderful trans mentor, who is also a data scientist, Elaine … they have all been a great support this couple of months.’, she cheerily mentions.
But the world is not always sunshine and rainbows. She reveals how living in Brooklyn has its ups and downs.
She confesses, ‘There are threats and harassments. The steady emigration of trans people from all parts of the states to here… people finding a safer place to live in has attracted a lot of unwanted attention.‘
There has been an increase in incidents of violence and hate crimes against the LGBTQ community, and she has had several close encounters in the last few months, prompting her to move apartments.
‘I had four close calls with attackers and had to move apartments. My safety is something I didn’t have to worry about before I transitioned. Hate against trans woman is rising steadily. Recently, I had a neighbour threatened me with a metal pipe.‘, she recalls.
These issues highlight the need for a community to protect people and their basic rights, as well as for lawmakers to be aware of how certain laws and policies negatively impact the LGBTQ community.
She describes, ‘I am really glad to have a trans community for support here in Bushwick. I am completely aware that not many people will believe our struggles and our stories. So having people with similar experiences does help a lot.’
Her best advice for people on a similar journey is to practice self-love and create an environment that allows people to discover themselves despite all the noise and hatred that surrounds them.
‘Make it a daily practice to create a loving environment to evolve and be around people that love you and are prepared for your evolution wherever you go. Some people may or may not agree with the changes in your life. Learn to value yourself.‘, she advises.
A new chapter
One of the most prominent challenges she has faced since her transition has been breaking stereotypes and preconceived notions of what a trans woman should be like.
She recalls, ‘The biggest challenge has been setting boundaries with people who expect me to be a woman in the way they want me to be. I have realized how everyone is not prepared for me and I have to be selective about the people I am around.‘
The isolation is what she describes as one of the most important issues. There are always extreme reactions right around the corner where people resort to violent acts and crimes against the trans community and another group that would tokenize them.
‘It’s important to navigate away from these gender politics and find real friends and communities that embrace queer joy. As a trans woman, my challenge has been to find what brings me joy.‘, she gaily mentions.
She is grateful for the incredible support and friendship she has received from her near and dear ones who have brought her so much happiness and contentment in the two years since she transitioned.
‘I feel so much happier. I no longer feel a disconnect between the future and myself anymore. When I was performing as man, I was simply copying people around me and pleasing everyone. Now I can finally envision my future.‘, she recollects.
In the initial stages, she did go through a period of discovering who she was, focusing on the labels and boxes and attempting to define what she represented. She learned to let go of the definitions and express what she felt about herself.
She advises, ‘The world of transness is so big, you don’t have to put yourself in a box. Once you step into it, you realize you aren’t missing out on a lot. Don’t get stuck in gender dysphoria, learn to move into gender euphoria. Do what makes you happy. Transness is a beautiful thing, you don’t need to have all the answers.’
The future ahead
Jade has become a vocal proponent of gender rights and issues. She wants to usher in a new era of change in the tech domain and create a more diverse and inclusive industry.
‘Providing training programs is so important, specially for trans women who mostly don’t have support and access to have thriving career opportunities.‘, she explains.
Healthcare is another sector she is passionately advocating for and it has stemmed from her own experiences as a trans woman transitioning into the tech domain.
She laments, ‘Most tech companies still don’t have trans inclusive healthcare plans. Many New Yorkers are aware that enrolling in Medicare is a better option. Healthcare is expensive, and many young professionals find themselves in tens of thousands of dollars in debt.‘
Her own transitioning journey has seen the need for treatments that have landed her in short-term debt, and drawing inferences from her own experiences, she understands the necessity for people, regardless of gender, to have the basic right to afford healthcare.
‘Corporations have to learn to invest in people. Being able to afford medical treatments and having healthcare plans is everybody’s basic right.’, she conveys.
Jade represents the next generation of changemakers in the technology sector, which is gradually and steadily transitioning toward a more inclusive industry in which who or what you are does not determine what you can do. Her journey parallels that of thousands of others who are rediscovering their true selves and pursuing the careers they have always wanted. She, and a million others, personify what queer joy and community are all about.
As a beautiful trans woman with a perfectly lined winged eyes taught us how to conquer our fears and live our best authentic life, she would say,
‘Life is too short. You only really have today to be yourself and shine. Be fearless and just be joyful and loving.’
Here’s to spreading that queer joy one winged liner at a time.
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