By Connie Wardman
I recently had the opportunity to interview Samuel James Rosenmayer, founder and owner of Samuel James Watches, Ltd. Sam, as he prefers to be called, is a millennial transgender man who is open about his life experiences. Recognizing the importance of visibility to remove the stigma of being transgender, he’s thoroughly open about his experiences, letting people know that his transition process opened the door to an authentic life where his body finally matched his gender identity. What’s particularly interesting is that in the process of transitioning, his artistic flair not only launched his watch business, it also awakened his philanthropic instincts.
Growing up in Chicago as the youngest child in a conservative “yours, mine and ours” household, Sam revealed that by age five he felt something was wrong, that somehow “God messed up.” By ages six and seven he KNEW something was wrong. And by ages eight and nine he really was feeling a deep internal wish to be a boy. He knew his desire to change gender wouldn’t go over well with his devout Catholic mother so he continued trying (unsuccessfully) to suppress those feelings.
By the time Sam came out at age 22, he did so as a lesbian and not only lost all his friends, he also didn’t know anyone in the LGBTQ+ community due to his conservative upbringing. He really emphasizes the importance of researching your local area for resources such as therapists, availability of hormones and places to stay, some of which may be free.
With the help of family, new friends and some therapy, at 25 he finally decided to transition from female to male. While many think it is immediate joy and relief when you begin the transition process, Sam says it was a real challenge, again emphasizing the importance of therapy and finding a support network. He describes his first six months of transition as terrible. But that’s when his artistic talent and his love of watches kicked in and gave him a new focus.
An enthusiastic watch collector, he’s always valued the unique looks and fine craftsmanship of older watches, seeing them as important jewelry. To pass the time Sam began to draw unique watches that were bold but also unisex in design. Receiving lots of positive feedback on his designs, he began researching how watches were made. The result? By age 26 he launched Samuel James Watches, Ltd. with watches that are distinctive, high-quality, dependable and yet affordable.
Sam now donates $10 from every watch sale to non-profit organizations that are fighting to end human trafficking, protect our environment, suicide prevention and animal abuse prevention. The organizations change on a monthly basis but some of them include: Human Rights Campaign (HRC), The Trevor Project, GLSEN, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Humane Society of the U.S.
Once Sam became the man he always knew he was without hiding, he was able to value himself as a worthy member of society. Sharing his transition experiences and his watches with others now feed both his body and soul.
To view his collections of watches, go to www.SamuelJamesWatches.com.
Photos By Samuel James