From transition videos to vegan snack taste tests, the transgender vlogger covers all aspects of her life -- and her loyal #breadsquad enjoys every minute.
Ash Griffith | August 30, 2018
Canadian YouTuber Stef Sanjati is no stranger to attention. With almost 600,000 subscribers and millions of views on her videos, Sanjati greets her viewers in every video with a very cheery and friendly “Hello, little buns!” This is a joking reference to her love of baguettes, and really all forms of bread. Indeed, her fans are known as the #breadsquad. Sanjati’s channel is certainly fun, but she covers all sorts of topics, including some that are quite serious.
Originally starting her channel four years ago with a focus on makeup, Sanjati, who is also a makeup artist, began by making videos about general makeup and fashion topics, including tutorials and the post-shopping-spree rundowns known as “haul videos.” Initially on YouTube, she presented herself as a gay man with a feminine appearance. But after she came out as transgender three years ago, her channel’s focus shifted a bit, to cover more general lifestyle content relevant to and geared toward the trans community, such as dating, make-up tips specifically for trans women, and documenting her own transition.
Two years ago, she documented her facial feminization surgery, but also made it a point to ensure that her unique features stayed intact. Her facial features are due to a condition called Waardenburg Syndrome, an uncommon condition that affects the pigmentation in Sanjati’s skin and hair, and also makes her eyes such a specifically striking shade of ice blue. Waardenburg is also why her eyes are as far apart as they are, and even affects her hearing, making her deaf in her left ear.
“As a kid, I didn’t understand I was different physically until kids started to point it out,” Sanjati told Yahoo. “My mother and I have nearly identical faces because of Waardenburg Syndrome, but so do many of my cousins. It has become a very large part of my identity, and now, after embracing it and loving it, I feel more connected to my family than ever before.”
Sanjati makes it a point to go out of her way to be as vulnerable and transparent as possible. From talking about mental health and eating disorders to even having her parents in videos to talk, she tries to be as visible as she can. Indeed, just as she was open from the beginning about her gender transition, she discussed her Waardenburg Syndrome in an early two-part video series created very early in her channel’s history, before she’d even come out as trans. Being a role model may not be something she exactly signed up for, but it is a position she feels obligated to accept and take seriously.
“There aren’t many trans women online that have a following or that have a platform, so I have a little bit of a role model duty,” Sanjati told Bustle’s Katie Dupere. “I don’t resent [or] dislike that. But I don’t think it’s reasonable for me to be perfect or to try to be perfect.”
As we begin to see more and more visibility for the trans community, we also begin to see more people receiving the spotlight in a variety of different formats. Those willing to take on these positions help contribute to visibility and representation for their marginalized community, which is important especially for young people. When they see people like themselves in prominent positions, they are better able to see themselves in a positive light and understand that they matter, they are important.
Sanjati understands the importance that a popular YouTube creator like herself can take in this process. ”For me, growing up in a small town, there were no queer or trans people,” she told Bustle. “I felt very isolated, and so I would go to the internet. I often say I grew up on the internet… my development has so much been impacted by internet culture in general.”
Sanjati may have started off as a beauty-oriented YouTuber, but these days, she considers herself an activist as well. Now, thanks to her prominent position as an online content creator, there is another face and another voice for our trans youth. By being that face, that voice, Sanjati is able to repay some of the support she herself received from the online world as a young person.