Canadian influencer Jamie Pandit opens up about coming out as a trans woman in her 30s: 'I can finally breathe'

From living in a shelter at 16, to breaking barriers as a proud trans influencer — she's done it all.

Jamie Pandit, a Bangladeshi-Canadian trans woman, is sharing her journey of becoming a proud advocate for trans people. She's a powerhouse, and here's why her story matters. (Image submitted by Jamie Pandit)
Jamie Pandit, a Bangladeshi-Canadian trans woman, is sharing her journey of becoming a proud advocate for trans people. She's a powerhouse, and here's why her story matters. (Image submitted by Jamie Pandit)

"I had to be my own inspiration. I didn't have anyone to look up to, so I became that person for myself," says Jamie Pandit, a Bangladeshi-Canadian trans woman taking social media and the beauty industry by storm. At 35, she's living authentically, prideful and surrounded by love from her husband. But it wasn't an easy journey.

Pandit was born in Bangladesh, where she spent her early childhood before moving to Toronto at the age of 11. "Growing up, I always knew I was different. I felt like a girl trapped in the wrong body, but I didn't have the words or the support to understand or express that," she recalled.

"It was really lonely. And when I did have friends, I felt like they weren't proud to be with me... I felt a lot of shame."


Starting a new life in Canada came with its own set of challenges; she experienced bullying and isolation, exacerbated by cultural differences and the binary expectations of gender roles. Despite this, she found the strength to start transitioning at 15. "One day, I decided I was going to start transitioning on my own. It was either now or never," she said.

Coming out to her family and friends was difficult. "My friends stopped talking to me. Even my closest friends were embarrassed to be seen with me," Pandit shared. Her parents didn't take it well either; she recalled her makeup and "women's" clothes going missing, having to change at subway stations. "Nothing felt safe — being outside, being at school being at home," she shared, with tears in her eyes.

I kind of realized in that moment that my life was gonna be hard, and I had to deal with it alone.

At 16, she ran away from home and spent months living in a shelter.

Despite the "scary" things she witnessed while homeless as a teen, this period marked a big step in her self-discovery. "Living in a shelter was where I found my confidence. I started to see myself," she said. "Finding that dress in a donation bag that made me feel beautiful, wearing accessories that made me feel beautiful — it made me feel like I could survive."

Pandit spent 15 years hiding her identity so that she would have opportunities that are often denied to so many trans people.

From 17 to 32, she lived as a cisgender woman, completing her university degree, undergoing gender-affirming surgery and building a life for herself. "I kept my identity secret to keep myself safe and to have the same opportunities as others," she explained.

"I had so much hate for my identity, and so much internalized transphobia. I kept myself a secret and it made me feel like I could live my life on my own terms," she recalled. "I went from one cage to another cage."

Did that loneliness ever go away? To be honest, I still struggle with it now.


The pandemic and a combination of personal and societal factors led Pandit to come out publicly in 2020. At the time, she had been with her partner for nearly five years. "We just got engaged... but my friends didn't know I was trans, his family didn't know I was trans. I felt like: what was the point of getting married if people don't really know who I am, who we are and what our love represents?"

It was also a time when trans women, especially Black and Latina trans women, were facing violence in the U.S. In 2020, at least 45 trans women were killed, and at least 59 the year after.

For Pandit, coming out for the second time, at 32, was "the toughest and biggest decision" she's ever made. "My life completely changed... I finally feel like I can breathe a little bit easier; I can be myself."

However, it wasn't without its challenges. Pandit faced hate and threats, both online and in real life. "We lost extended family, my husband lost like 90 per cent of his friends because of who he is with. The hate, and the bullying online, felt really suffocating," she admitted.

Pandit and her husband on their wedding day. (Image submitted by Jamie Pandit)
Pandit and her husband on their wedding day. (Image submitted by Jamie Pandit)

To this day, Pandit is hyper-vigilant when she's in public. That's especially true now that she's grown an impressive following on TikTok and Instagram for her content on beauty, lifestyle and living as a trans woman.

"Threatening messages, people constantly telling me they're going to hurt me, unalive me... It's just something I've never prepared myself for," she shared.

Her impact as a content creator and advocate, nonetheless, has been inspiring. "I think about the little trans kids out there who need to see someone like them living a happy and successful life. That's what motivates me to keep sharing," she said.

"My husband is a huge driving factor, such a motivator. People that are new in my life... that I can completely be myself and not feel like I have to hide myself in any way — those things motivate me to show up because I'm not gonna lie, it's really hard."


Pandit and the founder of Olaeda, Talia, worked to design timeless investment pieces for the brand's Pride collection. (Images submitted)
Pandit and the founder of Olaeda, Talia, worked to design timeless investment pieces for the brand's Pride collection. (Images submitted)

Pandit's journey has brought her into the fashion and beauty industries, where she continues to break barriers. Her latest venture is a jewellery collaboration with Canadian jewellery brand Olaeda.

In addition to 14-carat gold earrings, rings and necklaces, the Olaeda x Jamie Pandit collection features pieces with subtle nods to the trans flag, incorporating pink, blue and white elements. Even though it's a Pride collection, Pandit said it's elegant and open to interpretation. "Blue doesn't have to mean masculine; pink doesn't have to mean it's feminine. It's whatever you want it to be," she said.

"I'm really proud of it because it's subtle. Wearing it makes me feel like I am representing that part of me, but it's done in a way that's tasteful. It's elegant, and it makes me feel proud wearing it."

jamie pandit tiktok jewelry collection
Olaeda's Pride collection includes subtle nods to the trans flag, while staying true to Pandit's elegant style. (Images submitted)

Pandit said she's often the first trans person a brand has worked with — and oftentimes brands only come to her during Pride month, or not at all. "I'm not just a token Pride person, and then to be forgotten for the rest of the year. I'm trans 365 days a year, and brands forget that," she claimed.

With Olaedea, however, Pandit feels "proudful" that a small Canadian business "took the chance" with her — and making it known and visible that she is a transgender woman. "It's important to see that because I have cisgender passing privilege... Olaeda, being a small business like them, working with me, and advertising me so proudly makes me feel proud."

From the collection, she is particularly fond of the solitaire diamond necklace and the gold dome stud earrings, which she describes as versatile and empowering.

jamie pandit tiktok jewelry collection
Jamie Pandit's collab with Olaeda features elegant rings, necklaces and earrings that she feels "proud" wearing. (Image submitted)

She takes pride in being a part of this industry and hopes her collaboration with Olaeda will inspire others. She also hopes to open more doors for other trans people and Brown trans women. "I don't speak for all trans people, and I'm not the representation for all trans people, we're all different," she said.


Pandit’s future is filled with aspirations and a desire to keep making a difference. "I want to continue building my brand. I want to continue doing bigger things with brands... I would love to be on TV," she said. But her goals aren't just about her career.

She's look towards potentially starting a family through adoption or surrogacy. "I have achieved titles that many trans people haven't been able to like, being a daughter, being a wife — and being a mother would be empowering."

Pandit and her husband, Phil, and their two dogs. (Image submitted by Jamie Pandit)
Pandit and her husband, Phil, and their two dogs. (Image submitted by Jamie Pandit)

Her family is something she hopes to share more of on social media to normalize a love like theirs. "It's a big part of my life; my husband, my dogs it's my little family... I don't see anybody like us, really, on social media at all." She also plans to start sharing more "how to" videos to help people who are transitioning and struggling to find support.

Pandit envisions a future where trans people are more visible and accepted in all areas of life. "It's important for kids and people to see that I am trans, to hopefully build compassion, have empathy, and maybe be curious. And that's the biggest thing — be curious, to want to learn more."

Let us know what you think by emailing us, commenting below and tweeting @YahooStyleCA! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.