Community Stories: Jacob’s Secret

Hello, and allow me to introduce myself – my name is Jacob Uren and I’m a barber at The Men’s Room Toronto. I’d like to take this opportunity to share something with the world that I haven’t had the courage or desire to share before. 

This story starts in October of 2019 when I applied to be a barber at The Men’s Room Toronto, which is located on Church Street in the heart of the LGBTQ+ Village.  At first, I didn’t know much about Church Street, and after looking into it, I questioned how I could possibly work there… But I gave it a shot anyway and went for the interview. It went very well and I started working there in mid-October. My nerves were high and my anxiety was through the roof, but I wasn’t comfortable sharing my reasonings yet.

You see, I am a Trans man, and even though that connects me to the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve always felt far removed from it. I transitioned 17 years ago and have been living my authentic life as a straight man ever since, and even though I have many queer friends, I guess I didn’t feel connected or even welcomed until I actually started working on Church Street.

In my lifetime, I have only been with two women, and both were long-term relationships, but I will admit I’ve acted on curiosities. Society makes you feel shame for these things but I’ve learned that ignoring the fragility of society and being your authentic self is liberating. 

So needless to say, I was quite nervous about my co-workers finding out about “my secret.” At first, I was only out to a few, and I thank them for respecting my decision to not come out at work. I was weary every day, wondering if the rest would know and didn’t say anything, or if they didn’t care… If they in fact didn’t know, would I have to come out once again? These are some of the anxieties cis men and women do not have to worry about on a daily basis. It’s quite debilitating at times. 

After being hired, I wondered if people in the Village would be asking me about my sexuality, like if I’m gay or just confused? Would men hit on me?  And -oh my God – I’ve never seen so many harnesses in my life! The Men’s Room also sells sex toys and fetish gear so these were all the questions floating through my head. I couldn’t help but wonder if they knew how hard it is to be a man born without a penis. 

So I started working with the hopes that I would blend in. I was getting to know everyone well, even though I am really reserved at first, I felt myself breaking out of my shell. Sure enough, the questions about my sexuality came up, but no one ever asked me if I was Trans, which I’m happy about because, for me, that’s something very private and extremely confidential. It makes me uncomfortable around new people but I am glad I was made to feel comfortable enough to open up on my own terms. 

I recently took the plunge and finally confessed: “I’m Trans.” My co-workers were shocked that I was shocked by my declaration. Did that really just come out of my mouth?  It did, and everyone accepted me. Wow, that was the first time in all my working career that I was able to come and actually say it! For years I was in a bad relationship and was totally trapped and this felt so freeing!  

Working at the Men’s Room I am finally my authentic self. I’m free to be who I am without judgement and I have the liberation of knowing that I am accepted for just being me. It has opened my eyes wide in so many ways and I want to be able to hopefully help anyone else reading this who might feel like I did for so long. I’ve learned so much and have faith in people again.

I hope to continue learning as I go along the way, and I hope others who might be close-minded or judgemental take the time to learn, too, because feeling trapped as I did was terrible. Nobody deserves that. The most important thing I’ve learned was to never hide again. 

Be who you are, no matter what, and hope for the best! It won’t always go as you planned but know there are people out there that will love and accept you just as you are. So there it is, I spilled the beans about who I am on a public forum and I couldn’t be more proud.

I’m Jacob, a Trans man, and it’s no longer a secret.

Jacob Uren
Barber at Men’s Room Toronto

MoJo Toronto would like to congratulate Jacob and remind our readers that “coming out” is always a personal decision. If you or someone you know is struggling with acceptance or coming out, please don’t be scared to reach out for help. In Toronto, the 519 Community Center has welcoming and focused programs to help all those who need and want it.