Even at a young age, Jamez Terry realized something didn’t feel right about being a girl.
“I can remember being 5 and coming home and saying I wanted to be a boy when I grew up, and in the back of my brain, I didn’t know what to do about it,” he said.
Attend the show tonight
Time: 9:30 p.m.
Location: Nightlight in Carrboro
Terry decided to change sexes at 19 years old, and today, he openly identifies as transgender — someone who does not identify with their gender assigned at birth — and is the founder of the Tranny Roadshow, a variety show featuring transgender individuals.
Terry, alongside Carrboro transgender resident A.J. Bryce, will appear for the first time together tonight at Nightlight.
Terry said his performance will include a narrative act that also draws on other artistic forms like poetry and fiddle-playing.
“Bryce and I have common threads in our performance, but we do them very differently,” Terry said.
Bryce, who performs as the “Modern Day Pinnochio,” said he will play the guitar, sing and dance.
Terry debuted the Tranny Roadshow six years ago after realizing there were limited performance opportunities for individuals who identify as transgender.
“The community wanted and needed something like this,” Terry said. “It became a vision that was far bigger than ourselves from the start.”
Within the first week of advertising his idea, Terry said he received more than 100 responses in support of the show.
He said the show has had strong impacts on audience members as well as performers.
“If you’re from a rural area, seeing confident transgender people can be a life-changing experience,” he said.
Bryce joined the performance group in 2006 after his friends encouraged him to apply.
“It was definitely a crazy thing that happened, but a good crazy thing,” he said.
For both Bryce and Terry, the sense of community they found through the show has been by far the best part of their involvement.
“When I started performing with all these amazing talented trans people, all the fear and shame that revolved around my trans identity began to dissipate,” Bryce said.
He said he also found a support system when he moved to Carrboro.
“I can be who I am without questions or harassments,” he said. “People here accept me 100 percent for who I am.”
Unlike Terry, who found support from family and friends in his decision to identify as transgender, Bryce faced many difficulties when he came out to family and friends.
“My family wasn’t accepting and my friends were having a hard time with it,” he said. “It was kind of a mess.”
Bryce’s website Trans-Genre, which he created four years ago to promote transgender artists and performers, features about 55 different groups and individuals.
Danny DePuy, assistant director of the UNC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Center, said people who identify as transgender can face many structural barriers in society.
DePuy said they may encounter discrimination in K-12 education, job hiring and health care.
“There is no federal gender orientation or gender expression anti-discriminatory policy,” DePuy said.
To offer support for victims of discrimination, the UNC LGBTQ center offers biweekly peer discussion groups for people who identify as transgender. The center also offers resources for individuals struggling with gender identity.
Contact the City Editor at email@example.com.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.