Get Familiar: Naïmah Janse
Naïmah Janse is one of our favourite figures in the ballroom community for a while now. After making her Patta debut during the Patta Soundsystem AW17 Visual Mixtape with her outstanding dance moves, we are proud to invite her back so you can get familiar with what keeps her busy.
First, can you let us know who you are and what you get up to?
My name is Naïmah Janse and my pronouns are she/her. Woman of trans experience, trans activist and Mother figure in the ballroom community here in the Netherlands. Discovered ballroom culture in 2008 when I was born and raised on the island of St.Maarten. In 2020 co-founded the “Black Trans Art and Joy Fund” which is a non-profit organization that raises funds for black trans joy.
When did you first get involved in ballroom culture?
Discovered in 2008 and I got involved when I moved to New York City in 2012, there is where I learned more about the community and culture of the iconic scene.
How does one make their first steps to get involved in the scene?
LEARN THE HISTORY! Ballroom has a rich culture that often gets overshadowed by everyone being “so into voguing” right now, voguing is only one aspect of it. So it’s important to know the who, where and why this exists.
You recently hosted your first ball, how did that go and did you feel support from the mothers that came before you?
Yes, I definitely felt the spirits of the mother’s in the room celebrating with us, it was such a beautiful safe space and everyone was enjoying themselves. Everyone came correct and emoted the mother’s in their categories.
What were some key highlights of the event for you?
We have a category called “Realness”. It's when a trans person “passes” in a social environment, and to see the amount of beautiful trans women that walked and most were also from the Caribbean was truly the highlight of the night for me, I’ll cherish that moment forever.
In a house, what is the role of a Mother?
The mother is the foundation of the House. She not only sets the kids in line on and off the floor but helps mold and nurture. I want my kids to win outside of the Ballroom as well.
What do you like to get up to when you’re not so busy with ballroom and activism?
I love having self-care days, love spoiling and pampering myself. It’s my love language to myself.
How did the Black Trans Art and Joy Fund come together?
Sharona and Xiomara came to me with the idea of the fund and like a light switch, it clicked. It’s always been a dream to help my community I knew I wanted to do it but just didn’t know how to get it started, my transition has been a tough journey and at that time I wish I had an organization like the one we created to support me. Therefore this beautiful initiative was born!
Who do you work on the project with?
I work alongside Xiomara, Sarafina, Sharona, James, Naomi, Venla and Eline.
What actions can Cisgendered allies do to help Trans people?
First of all, it starts with the kids, protecting trans kids by any means necessary. Accept them, learn them, nurture and support them. Also, let trans people tell their own stories. It’s so important for us to talk about our own struggles but also our triumphs. Give us the platform we deserve so our voices can be heard!
Where do you feel like a lot of change has already taken place?
Actually, we still have a long way to go. Recently one of my sisters suffered a hate crime which was completely ignored by authorities and we are in 2022! Why is this still happening? This is why this platform and opportunity is so dear to me, next to fighting the fight I need to be visible and courageous.
Do you feel like we are on the road to a world with equal representation and what areas do you think need the most work still?
We are on the road but it’s not everyone’s story, For example in the Media, to “pass” is still a thing, which is a thing of the past, because no matter where we are on our journey in transition we should all be treated equally. There is definitely more representation than a few years ago but there’s still work to be done, so much.