Jenesys Alicea was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1981. Her maternal grandparents were born in Puerto Rico and migrated to the mainland U.S. early in their lives. Jenesys grew up in North Newark and then Belleville. Her father worked in factories and in shipping and handling, and her mother eventually worked for Essex County.
Jenesys went to Elliott Street School, Ridge Street Annex and Broadway Middle School in Newark and then, after moving to Belleville, to Belleville High School, graduating in the Class of 1999. She attended cosmetology school at Concorde in Bloomfield and has spent her career working in cosmetology.
After first coming out as gay, she began transitioning in her mid-twenties with the help of an organization in Jersey City dedicated to helping trans youth. She identifies as a transgender woman.
In the interview, she discusses her family history, childhood and life experiences, focusing in on topics including her Puerto Rican heritage, Latinx communities in Essex County, the process of transitioning, LGBTQ activism, trans-related health care, working as a freelance cosmetologist, and traveling to Puerto Rico.
This oral history interview was conducted as a part of the Latino New Jersey History Project, directed by Dr. Lilia Fernandez.