Image description: Jeff is sitting behind a desk indoors, smiling with hands folded in front of them. There are reusable name tags in front of them.
Image description: Jeff is sitting behind a desk indoors, smiling with hands folded in front of them. There are reusable name tags in front of them.

Jeff (they/he) joined APIENC in 2019 and is a member of the Trans Justice committee, where he is working on launching the peer counseling pilot.

Jeff, who identifies as a Filipino American, demi/pansexual, genderqueer and nonbinary person, attended their first APIENC event back in October of 2019, the Fall Potluck. They first heard about APIENC and the event through someone they met on a dating app. Jeff remembers going to the potluck and bringing cookies. They remember how friendly and welcoming everyone was. Jasmin, one of APIENC’s community organizers, walked up to them and asked if they would want to join the fall fundraising team. Even though this was Jeff’s very first APIENC event, they already felt excited to grow their involvement with APIENC, so they decided to sign up! And they’ve been involved with APIENC ever since.

Before finding APIENC, Jeff wrote content for a blog called I Need Diverse Games and did podcasts and was on panels to talk about diversity and representation in pop culture and media, as Jeff feels passionately about helping to boost up people in marginalized groups. This was one of the first times they saw how powerful their voice was.

Jeff has gained more confidence and has grown even more in their leadership skills since becoming an active member at APIENC. During their formative years, Jeff didn’t feel safe and felt like they didn’t belong. While in high school, Jeff remembers vividly being the target of homophobic attacks. Reflecting back on those years, Jeff sees just how important APIENC’s role is. At APIENC, they were able to reclaim the power and the voice they were lacking in their more vulnerable years.

Jeff’s most favorite memory at APIENC was back in January of 2020. The Trans Justice committee took a trip to Sephora to get makeup lessons. Jeff remembers feeling their confidence skyrocket and everyone having a lot of fun. Jeff hasn’t found any other space like APIENC, where you can just come in and be yourself, where you don’t have to explain or justify your own identity, where you feel validated by the simple act of applying your own makeup.

Recently, Jeff grew their involvement more by joining the Healing and Care committee. When asked why they joined, they responded:

Ultimately, no matter what gets thrown at us by the world, society, and generations of trauma, healing has to start within us– individually, and collectively.

They hope we, as TQAPI people, all continue to find ways to connect, online and in person, to build relationships, share space, and heal together.

Outside of APIENC, Jeff studied environment engineering in school and is now a safety inspector for academic research labs. And a fun fact about Jeff! They’ve been designing costumes and doing cosplay for 7 years. The process of putting together a look has helped them experiment with their identity and understand themself better. They discovered they were genderqueer in 2016 when they cosplayed a character named Mettaton from a game called Undertale, who has no shame about his presententation and loves himself to a fault.