Jessie Anderson has been an activist for transgender rights and sexual wellness since 2008. When Jessie began his hormone therapy as a teenager, he was shocked by how few resources he could find to prepare him for his body’s upcoming changes, despite having been raised in a sex-positive, feminist, and predominantly queer East Van household. After a two-year volunteer position with Vancouver Coastal Health teaching workshops to high school students about sexual health and gender variance, his fascination with trans bodies led to a part-time career as an adult performer and director under the alias Charlie Spats, working alongside queer and trans directors who shared his vision of authentically showcasing trans sexuality.
By 2014, Jessie had produced several local sex-positive parties, launched his own pay-what-you-can adult website, and was working full-time at Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium, Vancouver’s retail hub for gay and lesbian communities since the 1980’s. However, Jessie still felt that Vancouver was distinctly lacking a permanent, physical space dedicated to the wellness of the trans community. In 2015, Jessie opened his own business: Big Bro’s Barbershop, a beauty and resource centre for the trans community and beyond. As Vancouver’s “Big Bro,” Jessie not only offered a non-judgemental space for trans people to seek services, but also provided peer support, referrals to trans-friendly medical providers, and rarely-retailed products designed for gender transition.
The community-oriented vision of Jessie’s shop has been so well-received by the public that the business was awarded Best Emerging Entrepreneur at the 2016 Small Business BC Awards. Jessie continues to live and work in East Vancouver, with Big Bro’s Barbershop only blocks away from the house and schools from his childhood.