An intimate four-part docu-series premiering on Prime Video, Always Jane follows transgender teen Jane Noury and her family as she nears high school graduation and begins sharing her journey of identity. Viewers witness her family and how the power of compassion and acceptance makes a world of a difference. Jane’s openness with her story is yet another example of youth pushing conversations forward about social issues.
When Jane wanted to be her true self, her family not only supported her, but they grew closer. Jane has now modeled in the Savage X Fenty Vol. 3 fashion show and is currently studying Film at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
As someone who transitioned at the age of 16 in high school, in Northern NJ, with a supportive family, this story piqued my interest. And after speaking with Jane, I realized that we have even more in common than I expected, and it was nice to know my own personal transition story was able to pave the way for a story like Jane’s. We sat down (over Zoom, of course) to discuss her story, her style and her new series, Always Jane.
CR: What inspired you to make this documentary?
JN: It wasn’t my idea. My mom encouraged me to start modeling, and I did a competition for Slay Model Management in LA over two years ago. That’s when I met 19 other trans women who were also part of the competition, which is a happy memory for me. I come from a suburban area in Northern New Jersey; I didn’t have a lot of people who were trans female to identify with. There were trans males in my community, but I never really related to people on such a deeper level like I did with those women. That’s also how I met my director Jonathan; he was filming the whole process of the competition. When he interviewed my mom and me, he got to learn a lot of my story. He gave us cameras to take home and document me for two months–from meeting him in December of 2019 up to the competition in February 2020.
I thought it would end there, but I kept filming: my journey, starting off my career as a model, graduating high school, having my surgery, trying to decide what to do for college, and going through Covid. I wanted to have the memories because it was special to me. Eventually, Jonathan saw the bigger picture and wanted to show the world our story. He pushed to have the story seen, and Amazon wanted to go forward with it.
How did you first come to identify as transgender?
I didn’t know enough about the LGBTQIA+ community growing up to know if I was a part of it. It was a lack of education, I just knew about being straight or gay. When I was around 13 years old, I was so depressed that I couldn’t communicate my feelings until I learned more about the community through YouTube videos. My friend sent me a story-time video of Gigi Gorgeous and I thought it was funny, I kept watching and found her coming out video. 13 year old me, not knowing anything, was like “Wow, what’s this?!”
I really identified with everything she was saying in her coming out video. I was so shocked, I didn’t know it was an option [to transition]. It sparked everything, my first step into learning about the trans community. That was the starting point of my journey and me becoming who I am now as Jane. I started researching and educating myself more. The next step was to come out to my family.
When did you come out and transition?
I came out to my family at the beginning of the 8th grade. The summer after finding Gigi’s videos, I waited. I was scared–I knew they’d love and accept me regardless, I was just scared of them not understanding it. I didn’t come out to everyone else for 8 months. During those 8 months, I was going to therapy, meeting with doctors, taking time to myself to understand myself more. I wasn’t like “Hey, I’m trans everyone!” My parents had to take time to learn, not just me. I had to change my pronouns and my name, it took a long time until I felt ready to come out to everyone else around me. Then, I started my freshman year as Jane.
I was in the same town, but didn’t go to the district high school. It was a new start for me, I didn’t want people I’d been growing up with my whole life to see me transition. I wanted a fresh start for myself, and I also wanted to be in the cinematography program for the trade school. I had posted on Instagram so everyone kind of knew I was trans, but I was discreet about it. I was honest about it if people asked.
Did you express your femininity from a young age?
Looking back, it makes sense: wearing dresses all the time, not wanting to play sports, not identifying with male activities. Because of that, I wasn’t as close with my dad because he didn’t know how to connect with me when I was younger. We got distant and only after I came out did we rekindle that relationship. We’re closer now more than ever because of that.
How do you think your docuseries will affect the transgender community?
I have anxiety thinking that I could and most likely will be a light for someone who hasn’t come out yet, or doesn’t have an accepting family, or doesn’t feel at peace or at one with themselves. It does feel like a huge responsibility to take on, and to put yourself out there and hope that everyone receives you well. I hope people learn from it, but everyone’s transition is their own journey. My transition is my own personal thing, this is not a step-to or a how-to-be-trans type of thing. It’s really just about the love and acceptance of family, and honing in on me becoming a young woman as I start my adulthood.
Tell me about your fashion evolution.
My freshman year of high school was my first year of being Jane, so I was getting all new clothes and wearing fake boobs with a bra. I tried new things like everyone does when their style evolves. My style is so different. Some days I want to wear all black, I don’t want to be wearing any color. I want to wear all black and look depressed! But my signature thing that makes me most comfortable is wearing jeans and a cute top or crop tops. I like showing off my stomach a lot because I think I have a nice stomach. I also like cute mini skirts and tight dresses. I feel confident when things hug my body and show off my curves.
Any favorite brands you love that make you feel good about yourself?
Fenty! Honestly. I got to model for the Savage X Fenty Vol. 3 fashion show, that was a big moment for me in terms of modeling. It was so cool to be a part of something so big, inclusive and accepting. Everyone was so supportive and laughing and it was such a positive and warm environment. Rihanna does it best by being inclusive and putting out amazing clothes and lingerie. I got to see Cindy Crawford walking in a high slit gown strutting her stuff, like wow!