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Supporting Transgender People in your Life - Sam's story
Episode 429th June 2023 • Gloriously Unready • Josephine Hughes
00:00:00 00:40:42

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Sam is bisexual and a non-binary trans person who was a significant part of the LGBTQ+ community in their hometown of Nottingham for many years. Sam is an equality, diversity and inclusion trainer with specialisms in minority stress, trauma, and gender.

In this episode Sam shares their journey of understanding and recognising their gender and how it isn't always a straightforward journey.

They also talk about the importance of supporting the trans and non binary people in your life and how you can do that.

To access counselling in the UK with a therapist who is trained in working with LGBTQ+ people and their families, the following organisations have directories of therapists:

Gendered Intelligence 

https://genderedintelligence.co.uk/professionals/therapists-and-counsellors/directory.html

Pink Therapy

https://pinktherapy.com/find-a-therapist/

Look for therapists who state that they are inclusive, an LGBTQ+ ally, and who share their own pronouns.  

Has a young person in your life just come out as transgender or non-binary? Do you feel confused and have a lot of questions?

Perhaps you’re feeling frightened for them? Or maybe you’re feeling upset?

Download Josephine's guide for parents Help! My Child Is Trans at GloriouslyUnready.com/transgender


Please Note:

Everybody mentioned in this podcast series has agreed for their story to be told.

We are keeping the names of Josephine's children private.

The information contained in Gloriously Unready is provided for information purposes only.

The contents of this podcast are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this podcast. 

Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this podcast. 

Josephine Hughes disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this podcast.

Transcripts

Josephine Hughes (:

Hi, I'm Josephine Hughes. I'm the mother of two transgender daughters who came out in their teens and early twenties. I told my own stories in series one of Gloriously Unready. And in season two I'm finding out more about transgender people's experiences because as I adapted to having transgender daughters, it helped me a lot to get to know transgender people. In this series, I ask what's it like to come out as transgender to a world that is not always ready for you? And how can you ever be ready to tell the people that you love that you're not the person they think you are?

(:

I invited Sam Hope on the show for their expertise as a therapist working with the LGBTQ plus community. Sam is bisexual and a non-binary transperson who was a significant part of the LGBTQ plus community in their hometown of Nottingham for many years. Sam is an equality, diversity and inclusion trainer with specialisms in minority stress, trauma, and gender. They have spent many years working in domestic and sexual violence services where they still train workers. Sam's book, Person-Centered Counselling for Trans and Gender Diverse People, was published in 2019. So Sam, would you like to introduce yourself to the listeners?

Sam Hope (:

Sure, yeah. I'm Sam Hope. I am a person-centered therapist. I qualified in 2004, so I've been doing this a while. I have a long-term interest in working with equality, diversity, and oppression issues. I've worked in survivor services a lot. And then in about 2013, I decided to transition and got siloed in working around trans issues as a result. So now I do, I have exclusively private practice. I mainly work with marginalized identities in particularly trans identities and neurodiversity and trauma. And I also do a lot of training. And in 2019 I had a book published, which is Person-Centered Counseling for Trans and Gender Diverse People.

Josephine Hughes (:

Thank you. So there's a lot there and I know there's sort of quite a lot of other things that you've done as well, such as running the trans space in Nottingham and really providing a lot of support for trans people. So this may sound a daft question, but for those of us that don't know, could you explain what being non-binary means?

Sam Hope (:

Yes, it's a really good question and I'm not actually a fan of the word non-binary because It feels like it's defining me on the basis of what I'm not. And it can be quite an excluding identity, whereas I guess my experience of gender is more that I'm a complicated mixture of things rather than I'm an absence of things. So yeah, I guess it's a term that works relatively well as a catchall term for people who can't exclusively put themselves into one of the binary boxes, which let's be clear, were made up by 19th century science that didn't know any better and doesn't really work for the huge diversity, including intersex people, not just trans people. So, non-binary is a bit of a catchall term. There are lots of different experiences of non-binary. There are gender fluid people, there are gender vague people, there are gender queer people.

(:

There's all sorts of things and there are people who wouldn't use the term non-binary who might fit the description of non-binary. And yeah, it gets really, really complicated and even more complicated than that is it's not a word that's been around for that long and before the word non-binary was around, we had the word transgender, which was mostly popularized by an activist and writer called Leslie Feinberg who now might identify as non-binary. But at the time the word transgender was separate from the word transsexual and it was a much bigger and wider term that included a huge range of people who experienced gender in complicated ways, shall we say, or performed or expressed gender in complicated ways.

(:

And then the word transgender slowly got taken over to mean just mean binary people who transition and the rest of us got nudged out. So we needed a new word, which it kind of mirrors what's happened if you go back to the 1970s, the word gay meant by bi people, trans people, everybody. And then everybody apart from a particular kind of gay person got nudged out and we had to re-include ourselves with new words and the acronym LGBT. So this happens all the time, whatever word we come up with, people will get nudged out of it and everybody will have a conversation about who belongs and who counts. And so yeah, it keeps happening.

(:

And I know that there are still arguments about whether non-binary people are trans. In my belief, yes, we are. The were means us and includes us. I respect non-binary people who don't want to include themselves under the trans umbrella. And I especially want to respect the fact that all of these words are just our way of looking at a thing at this moment in history. And there have been all kinds of other ways of thinking about gender in other cultures and other kinds of language. So, I don't want to say this is what somebody is if the label doesn't fit. But equally speaking, I'm as trans as anyone else, whether or not I've medically transitioned. In my case I have, but for a long time I didn't and I was still trans.

Josephine Hughes (:

It's really interesting because I think there's a lot to do with that... I'm speaking to my daughter, she said that before the word was there, she didn't really have a way of explaining who she was. But once she was able to come across the word transgender, it clicked for her then. And so much of our experience is finding that something that fits, isn't it? And finding an expression I think. Do you think that was more difficult for you? Was it hard to find a word that encompassed your feelings? I don't know.

Sam Hope (:

I first used the word lesbian to describe myself when I was 18, which was back in 1989, was a long, long time ago. And at that time I think it was understood in my head and in the popular understanding that lesbians weren't just women who liked women. They were gender divergent, gender different, gender queer. And I guess when I used the word lesbian then I probably more meant queer, but what we would mean as queer now. And then into my early twenties, I started identifying myself as bisexual. But the complication was I was generally more attracted to men and that didn't quite fit because people's idea is that if you're gender complicated then you must be attracted to quote, unquote same sex. And that was never the case for me. I'm much more similar to a feminine gay man than I am to a masculine woman.

(:

So I identified myself as bi, but mostly dated men. And my queerness kind of felt quite erased. Although I was very gender non-normative. I was a biker and I was quite sort of leather clad and tough and definitely not fitting any feminine stereotypes. And then in my thirties my sexuality shifted a little bit and I felt a bit more affinity and attraction towards masculine and androgynous women. So I kind of came out again as lesbian, although again, it was still much more about my gender than it was about my sexuality. And like your daughter, it wasn't until I saw the conversations around non-binary that felt like, oh, that explains me a little better. Even though I don't like the word, the kind of conversations that were happening, people like CN Lester coming into the public eye, actually really did make a difference to me to see myself a bit more accurately mirrored and to see a little bit more diversity of non-binary experiences that went beyond the idea of being a masculine woman or being a particular kind of gender complication.

(:

And I think there was a real moment of people saying, "Oh, gender is much more complicated than people think. People's experience is much more complicated and we can't keep trying to silo people into binary boxes or narrow definitions." And that really helped me figure out my own experience of gender and articulate it more. And I came out as non-binary and started using they/them pronouns, which was again, it was just starting to happen that that was possible. And it was a relief to be able to do that. And it's a slippery slope. Once you start with the pronouns. You end up transitioning. That's not true obviously.

(:

But for me it opened up stuff and it was the moment I changed my name, had this amazing moment where I remembered something that I'd completely erased from my memory, which was that when I was 12 I wanted to be called Sam. And I had really, really pushed this for a long time and nobody would do it. And when I remembered this, which had been completely suppressed, I said to everybody, "Oh, I'm Sam now." And the moment I said I'm Sam, it opened up so many more possibilities and it made me realize that actually transitioning was right for me. And then everybody thought, oh thank God you're actually a trans man, are you? No, it's non-binary, sorry. But I'm much more comfortable, my face in the mirror looks more me and I feel more comfortable in my body having medically transitioned and I'm still non-binary. I'm definitely not a guy and have a man's experience of the world. And that is not me saying trans people in general are all non-binary. But for me personally, that is my experience.

Josephine Hughes (:

Yeah. The thing that's coming up for me just listening to you is that exploration that you went on and trying to work out over a number of years, really how you fitted and what felt right for you. And I suppose that that feels very courageous actually. And did you experience prejudice or discrimination as you were exploring? Because it's a long history really of being different to what people maybe wanted or expected.

Sam Hope (:

Yeah, in so many ways. And I don't want to rule out the way that neurodiversity marginalizes you and the way that people instantly react negatively towards someone who expresses themself in neurodivergent ways. But for sure, there was so much of my experience where I have been in some pretty difficult and hairy situations over the years because of being different. And although I know trans women experience far more overt violence than people who are trans misogyny exempt, like myself, I don't want to equally don't want to understate how it was bad enough. And I think the other thing I probably didn't name was that when I was doing my counseling training, there was a trans woman who I trained alongside who experienced a lot of discrimination.

(:

And I think that at that time I was questioning my gender. That's around the time I came out as a lesbian. And I think that coming out as a lesbian was a safer thing to do than coming out as trans at that point. And I had that experience seeing what it was like within the professional setting and even from tutors. And sure enough, when I came out as trans, I've experienced so much discrimination from counseling spaces. It's really, really shocking how regressive the counseling profession is and it's really disappointing.

Josephine Hughes (:

Like Sam, I'm shocked and disappointed that parts of the counseling profession are unsupportive towards the LGBTQ plus community. However, there are supportive therapists out there. And if you are looking for counseling for yourself or a family member, please check out the show notes for more information on finding a therapist. So you mentioned about the neurodiversity as well. I'd love to explore that a bit more with you. So just for the benefit of anybody who isn't a professional who's listening, could we just sort of define what we mean by, this is a bit of a silly question really again, what we mean by neurodiversity. A little sigh. Sorry Sam.

Sam Hope (:

I guess I'm going to go just with a quick answer, which is I think neurodiversity and self describing myself as neurodivergent is a paradigm shift. It's a way of identifying natural diversity in humans and in the ways that our brains work rather than thinking about it in terms of discrete diagnosis. And for somebody like myself who has a diagnosis of autism and ADHD probably could also be described as highly sensitive person, could be described as probably dyspraxic. And actually, some of the youngsters are saying these neurospicy and Nick Walker is talking about neuroqueer. And I quite sort of that understanding that brains don't all come in the same flavor. An accommodating world would understand that and life would not be so disabling or difficult for us. But here we all are. So I'm neurodivergent and I think it's really interesting that a lot of trans people are neurodivergent.

(:

I don't hold with the idea that being neurodivergent makes it easier for us to come out as trans. I don't think that's true. I think we face more pushback on our identities, more gaslighting, more being pushed into masking our identities. So I don't really believe that it makes it easier to come out as trans. I think that we are just quirky in multiple ways. We also are more likely to be left-handed, have extra long fingers, elastic skin and bendy joints. I just think we're quirky and these quirks come along with each other often. So if you're gay you're more likely to be left-handed, that's a thing, but nobody says, "How did your left-handedness cause your gayness?"

Josephine Hughes (:

Yeah. I see it quite a lot in discussions amongst parents anyway, "Oh, my child is autistic or ADHD or whatever. Is it that? Is the reason why they're saying they're transgender." And I've got bit a bit of experience with both of them actually. So I've got one of my daughters lefthanded, but probably not necessarily neurodivergent and the other one is right-handed probably is, so there you go. But yeah, it is one of those things isn't it that's used, it's almost like people's neurodivergence is weaponized against their gender identity, isn't it?

Sam Hope (:

I think it's at the core of transphobia anyway, this idea that we will use something to undermine your identity. If you're young will say you're too young to know. Or if you're a teenager, it's peer pressure. Or if you are autistic, you don't understand gender well enough or you don't conform well enough to societal norms. And if you've got mental health problems, which is hard not to in a transphobic world then you are deluded. But there's always, and obviously for trans women particularly, there's this extra layer of horrible suspicion put onto trans women's identities and so much misogyny led up in that in particular. But yeah, there's always a way of undermining a trans identity, but it does infantilize autistic and neurodivergent people to start saying that we understand ourselves less well and we are less able to identify ourselves and express our identities and neurotypical folk.

(:

And it's a really good way of pushing back on young trans people is to say, oh well we'll look at your gender identity when we've addressed your neurodiversity and just siloing them into a life of absolute misery and being put on hold, which we know is psychologically damaging to them. All the evidence says if you try and suppress somebody's any identity, but particularly a trans identity, it's going to have a really bad mental health impact on them. But we are quite happy to injure young people on this idea that well maybe sort of 1 in 200 is going to come to regret their decision. So it's okay to injure nearly all young trans people on the basis of saving that 1 in 200, which I think it says a lot about priorities, doesn't it?

Josephine Hughes (:

Yeah, that's a really interesting point. I hadn't really thought about it like that before. So it's a really sort of interesting thing. I think from a parents' perspective, certainly for me it was something that wasn't really in my awareness. So when my kids did tell me they were transgender, it was like that it can't possibly be true. And I think there's a sort of element of denial really that I had to work through to understand that this was who they really are. Of course there's always that sort of worry about what if they regret it? You do spend a lot of time working in this field, so what would be your answer to that parental concern of what if they've got it wrong?

Sam Hope (:

So if they have got it wrong, then the absolute best thing you can do is support them and support their identity and unequivocally use the right pronouns. Support whatever they want to do because then they won't dig their heels in with their identity. They won't feel like they have to go further along a route that isn't right for them to prove their identity. If you honor and respect somebody's identity and pronouns without them needing to go through any medical processes, then they aren't going to feel so compelled to go through medical processes just so that the world accepts them, which is what some trans people still do. Some trans people, like myself, feel profoundly more congruent in our bodies after medical processes, but for some trans people it's a purely social and identity experience. And a lot of trans people are comfortable in their bodies as they are. But if they feel like they have to change their bodies in order to gain acceptance, civil rights, respect, and still in the UK you can only get certain civil rights by going through a medical process.

(:

So obviously I would've thought that it is self-evident that if you are respectful of how somebody identifies without them needing to jump through hoops and go to extremes, then they are not going to need to jump through hoops and go to extremes. So even if it was true that a lot of young people change their minds, which it isn't and there is robust evidence that is not the case, but even if it was the case, it still makes sense to be supportive. It's a bit like when I was a teenager, I dated a really bad boyfriend and my mum hating him kept me in that relationship for way longer than I needed to. And if she'd just gone along and been supportive of the relationship, I would've realized, in fact the day that she turned around and defended him was the day that I was like, what? [inaudible 00:22:05]. I can't stress enough parents, just support your kids unequivocally and they'll figure it out.

(:

Yes it is in our culture to pervasively doubt trans identities and think that they are likely to be wrong or deluded. That's not true. It completely flies in the face of all the evidence of trans experiences. However, even if it was true, I still think it would be the best thing to do to just be supportive.

Josephine Hughes (:

Yeah, and certainly listening to your journey, it sounds like it took time, didn't it? And you needed that space to just explore and to have that space.

Sam Hope (:

But if people had just called me Sam when I was 12, it would've made a difference. I wasn't going to medically transition back then. It was the 1980s, that wasn't really on offer. But if people had honored my identity as Sam and let me give that space to think about my identity, I think it would've saved me a lot of pain and a lot of trauma and given me a lot more ability to connect to my own experience, to connect to my own body, to connect to my identity. And I genuinely think my life would've been easier, less stressful and less traumatic. So, I really think it would've made a huge difference.

Josephine Hughes (:

That's a really important thing to hear I think. I think that's important for us as parents to hear as well, to honor that and the difference that it would've made. So, do you think that if you are neurodiverse that makes it more difficult for people?

Sam Hope (:

Definitely. I think it's getting better and I'm quite grateful. I was at Nottingham Gender Clinic at a time when they just started to have some crossover working between the gender clinic and the autism service. Even so I waited until I got my gender dysphoria diagnosis and was in treatment before I mentioned the fact that I thought I might be autistic because I was worried that it would provide barriers to getting diagnosed or slow things down. And that is a realistic concern of certainly a lot of autistic people who've been pushed back from getting diagnosed.

(:

And I think particularly if you're non-binary as well, this idea of gender confusion comes up as if complicated means confused. And just because it's hard to explain to someone who doesn't understand it doesn't necessarily mean we're confused. We might confuse you, but that's a different thing. So yeah, there's a lot of that. And I think also autistic people particularly who have sensory issues might face barriers in terms of things like especially if you're transfeminine, the texture of clothes and makeup and expectations of how you'll express yourself when if you have a comfort hoodie and jeans and you are expected to turn up at a gender clinic in makeup and a dress, which is ridiculous, why should women have to wear makeup and dresses? But here we all are, this is how it is for trans people. So there can be some pushback against you're not trying hard enough to express your gender identity correctly.

(:

I faced barriers with transitioning my voice because actually it's really hard with ADHD to keep up with the kinds of processes-

Josephine Hughes (:

With practice.

Sam Hope (:

... try and train my voice so my voice completely doesn't pass, which means that if I'm wearing a mask and I go into a shop, I get called love and ma'am and all of this stuff. And then I'm in this position where I come out of the shop if I take my mask off and they see me take my mask off or somebody sees me, there could be a real moment of dissonance for people because I've got a beard. So, it gets a bit complicated I think sometimes these little details of transition. But a lot of that's about cis people's expectations of us and how we would perform our gender and how we would... And I quite like my voice, I don't really want to change it, but there is an expectation that I should.

Josephine Hughes (:

I've just got to say I've had a penny dropping moment there where you talked about the sensory stuff, the makeup and that sort of stuff because I know in both my personal experience and hearing other mums talking about it as they're looking at their child and they're saying, "But they're not making any effort." They're saying they're maybe feminine, but they're not presenting as feminine. And I think often there's that whole sensory thing mean it takes me back to when my oldest was little and I could not get her to eat mashed potatoes because mashed potatoes, and she's still absolutely finds mashed potatoes revolting, because it's that sensory thing, isn't it? It's just too much. And often people, they do have heightened sensitivity when they're neurodiverse. And I wish I'd known that back then. But also just understanding that that sort of sensitivity might continue now.

(:

And that's certainly something I can feed back to other parents when we talk about this. So, it's just really helpful to have that little moment of clarity for me. But the other thing I was going to ask you was being non-binary, is that even more complicated in terms of we don't really discuss non-binary issues so much in the news. It's obviously all the hoo-ha about transgender people getting gender recognition certificates, but what about non-binary people? Because there's even more barriers really aren't there because their existence almost isn't recognized.

Sam Hope (:

So we don't really have many civil rights here in the UK as non-binary people. The government decided when they looked into non-binary identities, whether they should be included in gender recognition, and they decided that we experienced no specific detriment. That's the term they used. So unlike trans men and women, apparently our identities matter less or have less significant impacts on us. None of that's true. The majority of trans people according to the LGBT survey that the government did back in 2018 are non-binary. So, we're the biggest group and there are people who have been fighting for non-binary civil rights for a very long time and other countries have got them. I'm not particularly obsessed with the idea of gender recognition or the need for gender recognition or the processes you have to go through to get gender recognition. It's all a bit of nonsense to me.

(:

And I think protection's under the equality act, obviously, which we're losing as a whole community at the moment, but we were just beginning as non-binary people to gain some protections under the equality act. For a long time it was thought that we weren't included. And then there was a landmark case that said that we were, but I'm not sure that's going to really stand up too much. But the reality is that I'm constantly facing infrastructure that asks me to make a statement about my gender that is very, very difficult to make. I applied for a library card making a tiny little half a four a five form tiny, but it still managed to fit a question about whether I was male or female on it. Why do you need to know? And what do you mean by that? Because my NHS records say one thing, my passport says one thing, my birth certificate says something else. Hormonally, I'm male, I was female assigned at birth. What do you want? I don't know what you're asking when you ask me that question. As an autistic trans, non-binary person, that's a hard question to be asked.

(:

So I'd really rather not just to get a library card and I don't think they need to know. And obviously equality monitoring, that's different. But there are ways to ask that question on monitoring forms. And if you go to my website, there's a free guidance document that will tell you how. I'm not selling or anything. There's nothing to sell there, but there's some great free resources on my website. But yeah, it's that frustration of constantly coming up against infrastructure. In the end, I went for 10 years without a passport because I really, really hoped that I'd be able to get an X on my passport and not have to put an M or an F. But then I finally had to concede that I was going to have to get a male passport if I was going to have a passport at all.

(:

And so my passport's got an M on it for whatever that means. And that has real world implications because actually the scanners they have in airports are configured to different bodies and different body shapes. And it's worth trans people, especially knowing this, that if those things pick up stuff that's not supposed to be there or isn't there that is supposed to be there, they will go beep, beep, beep. And you might get quite an invasive search. So, it is actually worth thinking about what you need to do in order to be safe going through airport security. But the complication then of having a passport that declares you as this and then maybe not having everything that lines up with that, that's complicated.

Josephine Hughes (:

So I was wondering if we could start to talk a little bit more about the therapy. What would you say the trends are? What sort of issues do you deal with when you are working with transgender people? What's coming up for you in the therapy room?

Sam Hope (:

Actually, I think people rarely do talk about being trans. I think half the joy of being able to talk to a trans competent therapist or somebody who shares your identity is it gets it out the way because what we tend to find as clients when we go to therapists who aren't competent in this area is they map everything back onto you being trans and map everything back onto transition. And they call it trans broken arm syndrome. And that comes from a genuine case where a trans woman got pushed back on her health insurance because she'd broken her arm and they tried to make it about her transition. So that's where the term comes from. They were like, "Well, maybe your hormones made your bones more brittle and therefore maybe it's a preexisting condition, your broken arm," which is nonsense. But this is what happens that once you're trans, people will try and tie everything to that.

(:

And therapists will often make meaning of if we have trauma histories and with neurodivergent and we're queer, they'll be like, "Oh, did your trauma history make you these things?" And of course the reality is that we're more likely to have trauma histories because we're marginalized people and marginalized people get targeted for abuse because we're less likely to be believed, we're less likely to have support. So, our marginalized identities make us more likely to be traumatized and not helpful therapists might get very muzzled around that and not be able to hold that. So I work a lot with trauma, I work a lot with survivors, I work with relationship diversity. Yes, sometimes some of my clients come to me and say, "I want to work through my gender and figure out my gender." Or they might come out to me in the process of therapy as trans, but it certainly isn't the core of my work.

(:

I guess I've just written a long essay on my website about antidepressive practice and for me it all boils down to empathy. And often when we're having conversations about things like trans rights, there is an invitation to empathize with how difficult it is for parents to have a trans kid or for somebody who's being challenged when they get someone's pronouns wrong or somebody who might feel uncomfortable seeing a trans woman in a space. People feel uncomfortable and people worry about those people feeling uncomfortable. And what I notice is there's a really astonishing lack of empathy for how it is for trans people. So, you are not going to end up with psychological problems as a result of having been corrected about somebody's pronouns. But you are likely to end up with psychological problems if you are repeatedly misgendered.

(:

But we don't channel our empathy towards the injured person, the person who's actually experiencing that marginalizing minority stress. And I find that really interesting. And I think that whenever we hear something on the news about trans people, whenever we are invited into debating whether trans people should have civil rights, if we engaged our empathy in the right direction and actually thought about how it is for trans people and actually believe that their experiences are real and deserving of kindness and empathy, I think we'd be having different conversations. But I think it's very interesting to me how easily we can skip over empathizing with... When we worry about detransitioners, we completely fail to empathize with all of the people whose healthcare is being denied and the levels of trans suicides that are going up because their healthcare is being denied. And we don't even worry about that because all we worry about is that one person who might have made a mistake.

(:

And I think it's really interesting if we notice ourselves doing that and think about why are we prioritizing our empathy towards one group of people? Or if we're talking about prisoners, we're very, very concerned about prisoners suddenly when it comes to trans women. But we are not at all concerned about the fact that trans women are getting raped in men's prisons, not remotely concerned about that. And we're not remotely concerned about the level of inmate rape that is happening as a result of rape by guards and rape by other women inmates, which is really, really high in prisons. We're not particularly concerned about the prisoners until we're having a conversation about trans stuff. So yeah, I'm interested in where our empathy flows and why our empathy flows and what psychological processes are going on for us when we avoid doing the work of thinking about and empathizing about marginalized people, especially at a time when they are being made social scapegoats.

(:

And it's becoming a bit of a fad to scapegoat trans people. And we know that populist politicians, extreme right wing politicians are using LGBT rights as a wedge issue and as a way of giving momentum to their campaigns. But it's really interesting to me how people can jump onto that bandwagon and start to say really quite toxic things and how our media can say quite toxic things and people let themselves not think about what that means. So, I'm curious about why that happens. I think we need to all think about it.

Josephine Hughes (:

Thank you so much, Sam, because that's articulated it I think so well and I really appreciate that. And I really appreciate you taking the time to come on and have a chat with me and just share from the depth of your knowledge and experience. And thank you so much, Sam, for coming and being with me today. Really enjoyed chatting to you. Thank you.

Sam Hope (:

Thank you.

Josephine Hughes (:

There's a piece of research that I read a while back where transgender people's experience was described in detail. And there was one line that seared through me as a parent. The participant described how they were advised by their parents to wait and see. And the result was, in the participants' words, "My parents forced me into a puberty I didn't want." And in this interview we've heard Sam describe how if only they'd been listened to as a young person, much difficulty and grief could have been avoided.

(:

And for me personally, I have a memory of sending my daughter's sweatpants to recycling because I couldn't bear to see her from my perspective of slopping around the house not getting dressed properly. Sam's words about how neurodivergent people find certain clothes and makeup a sensory overload was an aha moment of understanding what was going on for one of my daughters. Why those typical feminine trappings of uncomfortable underwear, after all who really loves wearing an underwire bra? Tight shoes and scratchy tops just aren't for her. Bring back the sweatpants I say, I understand now. So, wouldn't life be so much easier on us all if we just to each other and, as Sam said in the final section, empathized with transgender people.

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