“There wasn't really much information [about trans experiences] in the media and online. I thought that there was such a space for it… I was also learning as well, more about myself and more about the journey and where it was leading,” she says.
For a while, that’s all it was: a young trans woman sharing her story with a small audience.
Then came a sudden “turning point” on social media, especially on TikTok, where people really started to listen and embrace more LGBTQ+ creators and stories.
AJ noticed the change when she joined TikTok and suddenly started to see her follower count growing way faster than she ever could have expected.
“There was a moment where people were actually starting to change their mindset and to realise that we need to see visibility, and diversity, and representation. There was a space for it,” she explains.
“They realised we need more diversity in the modeling industry, in film and TV, everywhere.”
AJ quickly became a part of that push for representation, starting with her 2020 Mardi Gras Sydney x Instagram feature and followed by a string of unreal achievements.
From being the very first transgender person to model for Bonds, to launching an eyeshadow palette with Australis, and signing a bunch of exciting brand partnerships, AJ really is becoming a star in her own right.
She admits that she never dreamed sharing the story of her transition would get her so far.
But the 25-year-old is quick to remind us that at the end of the day, she’s only human, and just because she shares so much online doesn’t mean she “owes anybody anything”.
“I don't owe people information about my life, my transition, my culture and all that kind of stuff like that. It is my narrative at the end of the day, and everyone should have that too,” she explains.
It’s important advice for anyone who shares their own stories online, whether they’re trans, sharing their traumas, or just posting about their daily life.
AJ continues: “Everyone has a story, and when it comes to sharing a story that's so personal… you can be vulnerable, but not fully give away your whole self at the same time.”
Writing it was all about sharing her honest experiences, “but I also make sure I'm not giving too much away, [to the point] where I'm exhausted from the story”.
That’s how she approaches her TikTok content too; it’s all about sharing her authentic experiences without putting so much of herself into it that it leaves her drained.
AJ told Girlfriend that the confident, Disney princess version of her we see online is a bit of a persona she uses to separate her TikTok self from her “day-to-day” self.
She reminds us all that creators are human too, and while it can be easy to think of them as these perfect people who are always living their best lives, that’s not always true.
“Try not to expect so much from them [your favourite creators], we're all just humans,” she says.
“I want to be so much, but then I also need to be careful that I have my own boundaries and realize that I'm just one person, I can't fix every single issue.”
With a platform as massive as hers, its’ easy for AJ to feel overwhelmed by how many people are cheering her on, with more followers coming every day.
And even though she can’t respond to all the DMs and comments one by one, she really does adore and appreciate every single fan who helped get her where she is today.
“Know that as people, creators love and adore that [messages and comments], even though you might not get a response, you're still appreciated,” she says.
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