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Author and campaigner Mia Violet talks to Dr Helen and Marianne about her book: Yes You Are Trans Enough. Together they explore the implications of some of the hoops which trans people are made to jump through in order to prove themselves.

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Links

https://www.miaviolet.love/about-mia/
Twitter: @ohmiagod
Instagram: oh.mia.god
https://www.amazon.com/Yes-You-Trans-Enough-Self-Loathing/dp/1785923153/

 

The GenderGP Podcast

Mia Violet – Yes You Are Trans Enough: The GenderGP Podcast S5 E3

 

Hello, this is Dr Helen Webberley. Welcome to our GenderGP Podcast, where we will be discussing some of the issues affecting the trans and non-binary community in the world today, together with my co-host Marianne Oakes, a trans woman herself, and our head of therapy.

 

Dr. Helen Webberley:
Hello, welcome to GenderGP Podcast. Today, I am really happy to welcome Mia Violet. And, as always, I’m going to let Mia introduce herself, tell you a little bit about her, and what she does, and why we are really excited to talk to her today. Hi, Mia.

Mia Violet:
Hello. Oh, gosh, I never know how to introduce myself.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
I’ve put you on the spot.

Mia Violet:
Yeah, it’s like, how do you—there’s no real way to say, “I’ve written a book” and not come across like you are just really arrogant, like, “Oh, I’ve written a book by the way. I’m an author.” I’ve got a book right here as well. Yeah, I am a trans woman, an author, I wrote Yes You Are Trans Enough, which is like part memoir, part primer on trans issues. I use Twitter a lot, more than I probably should, where I am @ohmiagod. I also use Instagram a bit, where I am @oh.mia.god, I talk about trans issues and self-love.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
So, Yes You Are Trans Enough is your book. Why did you feel the need to tell the world that you need to be trans enough to be anything?

Mia Violet:
Sure. Yeah, sure. I was at an event recently, and someone said, “What was the emotion behind why you wrote the book?” And I answered and said, honestly, rage. Like, anger. Because what happened, the genesis of the book is a really long story. I won’t bore everyone with it. But the short version is that I read an article by someone that quoted another trans woman, can’t remember who it was, and she was talking about another trans woman, and she said, “Oh, she’s not trans enough.” Like she’s not trans enough to have gotten this title or this award or whatever. And as a trans person that really, really annoyed me, because I am someone who’s dealt with, “Oh, am I trans enough?” feelings basically my entire life. So, I wrote an article, just off the top of my head, where I was, there is no such thing as trans enough. Yes, you are trans enough. You don’t have to be stereotyped. You don’t have to have gone through these milestones. I was thinking a lot about the stereotypes—like I always say, I don’t fit into that. I didn’t play with dolls as a child. I am like I always played with Batman as a child, you know, superheroes and action-y things. But obviously, I am still female. So, I wrote this article and just this kind of debunking things off the top of my head. I just threw it out on my blog, and I didn’t think anything was going to happen. I wrote it for me, more than anything else. But I hoped it would like click with a couple of other people who are in a similar situation. And it kind of blew up a bit. Which really surprised me. And then I was like, “Oh, lots of people struggle with this feeling. So, the short version of the story is the publisher got in touch, because they had read some of my other writing, and said, “Would you like to pitch a book?” And I thought, well, the only book that I have the fire to write right now is a book of the article, essentially saying, hey, let’s do over all of the stereotypes, let’s talk about the realities. And I have been trans for—those of us who don’t fit into the sort of expectations or myths, and also, I can give my own story to you illustrate that point. So that’s how that happened. I honestly wasn’t sure if anyone would read the book. I thought it might just fall flat. But actually, it’s gone down really well. People seem to really like it, which I am so grateful for. So, that’s my long, rambling explanation of what my book is.

Marianne Oakes:
Have you had any feedback from the trans community at all, Mia?

Mia Violet:
Sure, yeah. The main thing I hear, which is always really lovely, is people saying that they recognise themselves in the book. People who read it were like, “Yeah, I felt that.” or “I did that.” but the kind of tragic side of it is that they’re telling me that that’s the first time they’ve actually come across that. Like, you know, watching the documentaries and the coverage in the media; I think a lot of trans people have felt like they haven’t been properly represented. So, it’s quite an honour, honestly, that some people have read my book and said, “Oh, I actually feel seen like this. I actually recognise my story in this.” Which was the main hope that I had in writing it, really. It was really—I wanted it to reach the people who were like me and what I was a few years ago. And it would sort of tell them what they need to hear to sort of feel a little bit better about themselves.

Marianne Oakes:
Yeah, I think the thing that resonates with me, just hearing you talk, actually, is that I think that we grow up isolated. And we are trying to work out ourselves what is going on. And I think it is very easy to fall into a narrative of, “Well, you can’t be trans because.” And actually, despite all that, we just become more conflicted. So, I think that idea of yes, we are all trans enough, wherever we are, really.

Mia Violet:
Exactly, yeah. I have memories of when I was about eighteen, nineteen, and I sort of like had friends of friends who were trans. And we would hang out together, and afterwards, I would be like, “I wish I was trans.” I wish I could do that. But I’m not, so I can’t. So that obviously is ridiculous, in hindsight. Only trans people want to transition, only trans people want to be trans. And yeah, I think that is something that a lot of us have doubted, because of the way the media had represented us. Because I was like, “Oh, well, I don’t think my body is disgusting. I am not incredibly depressed 24/7. So, therefore, I can’t be trans.” And I genuinely believed that for several years and it really delayed my transition.

Marianne Oakes:
We are talking about the myth of dysphoria, there, really. I mean, what is dysphoria? It is different things to different people. Yeah, there are a lot of people who grow up, and they’re perfectly sane and rational, and this is just something that I feel I need to do whatever that might be. I think it is a myth that everybody has to be at a point of distress, which is something that me and Helen talk about, I think, on a regular basis. Would you agree, Helen?

Dr. Helen Webberley:
Yeah, absolutely. And I am really interested in these milestones. You mentioned two milestones. I was going to ask you about those. What are these milestones? And you mentioned two right off. One was the dysphoria, and the other one was hating your body and then the depression. And I think, you know, doctors or healthcare professionals, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, anybody in that kind of privileged position of having a judgement on a trans person who is looking for those tick box milestones. You know, did you feel this from an early age? No. did you know you were trans when you were looking? No. did you really hate your body? No. Did you play with Barbie? No. Right, well in this case, sorry, mate, you’re not trans enough. I’m cringing inside at the thought of it. But that’s what is happening, isn’t it? And I think this is a really important discussion to have. I don’t know what it’s like to be trans enough. Because I don’t know. Marianne said we are all a little bit trans. And I really agree with that. But I never wanted to transition, so how am I supposed to know? Who’s going to teach me if it’s not you guys, you know? And I think that is really important.

Mia Violet:
I think you can really see that with the way that the NHS actually treats trans people. Like I remember, I arrived at the GIC and I was already on hormones. I had had two doctors, one of them you, already basically said, “It seems pretty clear that they’re trans.” I arrived with letters saying that, and I still had to be assessed. And in the assessment, I was being asked, “What was it like growing up? Did you wear girls’ clothing?” And I was then kind of like, I am here, I am on hormones, I am fully out, I have been forever. Do you really think that you have to ask me questions about my childhood? Do you really think that is relevant right now? Do you really think about, “Well, she’s here in front of us, and clearly presenting female, she’s come out to everyone, her family and friends, and work as female—but, did she play with dolls?” It’s just ridiculous. I was sat there, and I was thinking to myself this, I want you to stand up and say this is a farce. This is ridiculous. This is completely ridiculous. But instead, because of the power that they have in the system, I just sat down, and I was like, “Mhmm, yeah, mhmm.” And kind of had to nod through it. It took me years and years and years to get through all these assessments. And I am still in the system now. I haven’t had lower surgery. But it’s like five years now since I went to the NHS for help. I could go on a tangent.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
You just gave us a few more milestones there, didn’t you? You know you came out to your family. You changed your clothes. You changed your name. These tick box milestones, aren’t they? And the one question I should ask you is, “Excuse me, can I just ask you are you a woman?” do you know what I mean? That’s it. are you a woman who has got the wrong hormones from birth? Should we switch you on to the right hormones? And it feels like that is the missing question, isn’t it? Do you know what I mean? But then also, really interesting, I was dying to ask you as you were talking so animatedly, I was dying to ask you, “Did you put up with it? Did you put up with it?” I was thinking, I bet she did. And it is that power, isn’t it? It is such a privileged position for these people to be in, to ask those tick box questions, to test your milestones, to have the power to put you through a five-year process and not give you the hormones and not give you the surgery. Do you know what I mean?

Mia Violet:
Exactly. When I was writing my book, I was writing about the GIC experience. And I was saying how frustrating it was. And part of me was like, “Is this going to come back and have consequences? Am I going to be in another appointment one day and the doctor is going to be like, did you write a book?” But I thought to myself, and I was like, am I willing to risk my own sort of health, pathway, whatever word you want to use so that I can tell the authentic truth? Yes, honestly, yes. I think if I am going to put a book out, and have a responsibility to do it accurately and completely truthful and not hold anything back. So, I thought, okay, I am going to just do it, and if it has consequences then fine, I will just deal with it. But thankfully, it has not so far.

Marianne Oakes:
I don’t believe they’ll read it if I am honest with you.

Mia Violet:
Yeah.

Marianne Oakes:
I think the NHS clinicians if I can say, are just so involved in their own model that they don’t have the inclination to work beyond it. And that, to me, is what the problem is with the NHS service. And is well documented. I am under the care of the NHS the same as you are. The reality is it is a farce. That the question that they ask bears no relevance to our experience.

Mia Violet:
Exactly.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
I’m hoping that, Marianne. I’m going to pick you up on that. You know, why do we do the work that we do? And the work that we do is to educate and inform. So, let’s not tar every single clinician in this field with the same brush because there will be people who want to learn and want to adapt and want to change. And the protocols will one day be rewritten. Even if they are rewritten slightly, they will be rewritten. And it is information like this that we are sharing today, and Mia was brave enough to put it in her book, this is about taking those words from a book and putting them into a podcast. There are lots of different ways that people learn. And I think that this is really important. It’s why we do our work, isn’t it, really? But, Mia, that fear of telling the truth—how can we be in a position where you are scared of telling the truth in case your healthcare is taken away from you? And we that all the time, when we look on forums and things, “All right, I’m going to the doctor’s today, they’re going to ask me some questions. Can someone tell me how to answer these questions because I am scared I am not going to get it right?” Wow. Goodness, gracious.

Mia Violet:
Yeah, I saw that. I do a little bit of volunteering with a trans youth group. And I was meeting with parents once. And they were talking. Some of them had had experience with the NHS so far, and some of them were on the waiting lists. And there was a lot of anxiety in a room, like, what do we tell them, what do we say? And I was kind of like, I am not saying lie, because, you shouldn’t lie to your healthcare professionals, but at the same time, you know your kids. Your kids know themselves, they know what they want, like, just stick to that. Don’t let them derail to other things. Don’t let them caught up analysing other things. It’s just so depressing, isn’t it? It’s like these people are meant to be there to help, and instead, they are seen almost as antagonists, because there is so much fear that they are not going to act honestly, that they are not going to act with some common sense. It’s just so depressing.

Marianne Oakes:
I get the feeling as well, that parents feel judged when they go for when it is trans youth healthcare. The parents go in there, and they are frightened of how they are going to be perceived as parents.

Mia Violet:
Yeah, definitely. I remember talking to the parents, and these are people who are incredible. I talked to a woman once, who was crying and saying that she feels like she is not doing enough, and she’s worried that her daughter is going to grow up and is going to resent that she did not try hard enough. And I just sat down with her, and I was like you have to realise you are incredible. You are doing everything perfectly. There is nothing that you could do that you are not doing. Your kid is going to grow up and look at you and will go like, “Wow, I have the best mother in the universe. She really pushed and tried and helped me.” and it does bother me. Because like you say, yes, the parents are worried that they are going to get judged as parents. The parents are worried about how it is going to reflect on them. When in actuality, the parents are doing incredible work. But I mean, that is the whole problem with the media, isn’t it? There is this narrative that, oh, the parents are pushing the kids into it. And it’s like, who would do that? Who would actually want to put their kids through this distress? Nobody.

Marianne Oakes:
What’s in it for the parents to do that?

Mia Violet:
Yeah, precisely. There’s no (unclear 16:08).

Dr. Helen Webberley:
I think, and it’s interesting, isn’t it, again, from the medical point of view, it’s how split up trans parents seem to have a different rule book or what have you from parents of a not trans kid. And actually, it’s the same. It’s exactly the same. What should we do as parents? We should support our children. We should love our children. We should believe our children. And we should fight fearlessly for them, whatever it is that they are going through. And it is so different for parents who are trans, parents who have got trans youth that they are trying to support, love, believe, and act fearlessly for.

Mia Violet:
Of course.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
And they are brave, their children are brave. But they have that same checklist as well, don’t they? Imagine being a parent who is struggling with understanding what it’s like to have a child who is displaying different gender, and then having to convince somebody else with that set of questions we just talked about. Did they know from a very early age? Well no, they did not tell me until they were thirteen. Not trans enough. Oh, no.

Marianne Oakes:
I do come across a lot where they are oblivious to it. But actually, when they start talking, there were signs there. And it’s interesting. It’s just getting people to realise that inconsequential events when you don’t know about a child’s gender identity seem like nothing. But when you start looking back. You think oh, it probably was a few times there. But none of it proves anything. It’s like you said, you liked to play with Batman. What did that prove? Are girls not allowed to plat with Batman?

Mia Violet:
Exactly, yes, because it’s sort of like we’ve got one set of standards for cisgender kids and one set of standards for trans kids. I remember that court case a couple of years ago where it was like, the judge ruled that the kid couldn’t actually be a trans girl because she liked playing with superheroes. So, if we get a cisgender girl and she likes to play with superheroes, are we are like, you must be a boy, and like, sorry. It’s such absolutely ridiculous. But like what you are saying about there being signs and not really realising at the time. I think that sort of happened with me, and especially with my own mother. When I came out to her the first time, when I was a teenager, she sort of said, “Oh well, I can think of all these memories where you were kind of, you know, acting like a ‘boy’.” And I am using air quotes, for anyone who is not watching. And at the time as a kid, I was like, oh, okay, that sounds valid. But obviously, it’s not. But now as an adult, when I was sitting down to write my book, I was like, let’s actually thinking about my childhood. And as I say, I talk about that batman stuff, and I play that up to prove a point. But also, I thought about it, and I was like, well, I was super sensitive. I was very emotional. I was crying all the time. Like I preferred to hang out with girls at school and just chat. I didn’t like playing sports. So, if you want to talk stereotypes, there were signs that were there. But at the same time, there shouldn’t need to be signs.

Marianne Oakes:
No.

Mia Violet:
Because there are other things as well. I talk about it in the book. There was a time when I was watching a film, I think it was called A Little Princess, and the film made me cry. I was so invested in it. and I was like, “Oh, I cannot let my dad see me crying or seeing me enjoying this film.” So, I pretended to be asleep. And when he came downstairs, the film was on, and I was like, “Oh, I fell asleep.” Because I was performing, I was performing masculinity because I knew that was what I had to do. So, if you look at it from my dad’s point of view, you could say that there were no signs. And yeah, because I hid them. Because even at a very, very young age, children are aware of how they are supposed to act or not supposed to act. And they will adapt to that. Like I remember being at school and like boys as young as like six and seven laughing at other boys who did, again and again, girly things. And I think that hasn’t come naturally to them. That was taught behaviour. Someone in their family, someone in their life has taught them that boys act like this and girls act like this. And if any of them cross over then, you make fun of them. Which obviously is horrible. So yeah, I have gone on a tangent, but you could see what I mean here.

Marianne Oakes:
I think I spoke to Helen on many occasions about some of the information gathering sessions that we do. And I sit there with a young girl, and I am asking them questions, and I just want to write across the form, “For god’s sakes, help.” This is a girl. Why would I ask her these questions? Why is that even relevant. But I also understand that sometimes parents need to know that somebody is just taking an interest, a vested interest. But sometimes you are just thinking this is a young girl, what are young girls ever going to have to talk about their childhood in this way? And what relevance does it have to the girl that they are? It’s a difficult one.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
I always quote this one, but when I was working a few years ago, I had a young trans boy with me in my clinic. And I said, “How do you know you’re a boy? Your mum is struggling with this, how do you know you’re a boy?” and he said, “Dr Webberley, how do you know you’re a girl?” and I was like, oh, you’re right, you’re right, you’re right.

Mia Violet:
Yeah, perfect.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
I love that all people have taught me what I know. Mia, can we move on to the other thing that I wanted to talk to you about if you don’t mind?

Mia Violet:
Yeah, of course.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
Which is the other thing that you’ve written which I am really interested in, and that’s the law. Because when we made all these laws, we didn’t really expect that people would switch gender. So, these are really old-fashioned laws. And we’ve seen them in the news about being a mum or a dad on birth certificates, and obviously your experience about being a wife or a husband. Can you tell us about that?

Mia Violet:
Sure, yeah. So, I am engaged, and have been for about a year and a half now. But when we got engaged, there was kind of this spectre hanging over it, where I was thinking, well, I don’t have a gender recognition certificate. So, if I get married, during the ceremony, I will be called a husband. And on my marriage certificate, I will be a husband, which is obviously ridiculous. And also obviously that was really demoralising. So, at the time, I thought, okay, I am not doing that. I am not willing to do that. That is dehumanising. I resent that that is the system that is in place. So, I am just not going to get married until the law changes. So, I am not married. And that is quite demoralising. And what I found at first, I felt pressure to sort of not say this. So, I would be talking to friends, cisgender friends, who would be like, oh have you got a date yet? And I would say no we’re just saving money for it. Oh, we don’t have the money. But in the back of my mind, I am thinking that is not the real reason. The real reason is because of the way that my gender will be presented and just not willing to do that. And then after a while, I thought, why am I hiding this? It’s not something I should be ashamed of or embarrassed of. I haven’t created this rule. The rules are ridiculous. I have to live by them, but I shouldn’t accept responsibility for them. So, I wrote that article and said this is my situation. This is why we need self-identification. I was surprised how many people messaged me and said I had no idea that was the case. No idea at all. A lot of people were very upset and very annoyed. Unfortunately, there were a couple of trans people who have wedding dates and messaged me and said, I didn’t actually know this, so thank you for giving me a heads up. And I just said that I feel horrible for being the bearer of such bad news. But I mean I guess I got a heads up of what was coming. For some, it is a horrible surprise.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
Does it matter whether it is a religious wedding? Or a civil ceremony? Are they the words you have to use in “I take you as my lawfully wedded husband”?

Mia Violet:
I believe so. I believe that—because by law, when you get married that you use your birth certificate. So basically, it goes by what is on the birth certificate. So, if your birth certificate says male, which mine does, which is wrong, then that is what is used in the ceremony. And therefore, if I got married, I would be classed as a husband, which, again, is probably ridiculous. But it is because, of course, of the way, they are at the moment. To change the birth certificate, you need the gender recognition certificate, which I am honestly quite morally opposed to its existence. Because I think it’s dehumanising. I think it’s a trans tax because it costs money. You know, it’s a panel of people that sit and look at the evidence and decide what gender you are, which is just like ridiculous. Can you imagine that in day to day life of cis people? People who are like, “Oh, I am a man.” And then you are like, so oh, can you send us some evidence and I will get together with some people, and we’ll think about it, and we will let you know if you are or if you are not. It’s completely ridiculous. But that is how it works for trans people.

Marianne Oakes:
The challenge I’ve put into all of that is if they deem that you’re not, where does that leave that individual?

Mia Violet:
Precisely.

Marianne Oakes:
Do you know what I mean? So okay, you’ve decided I am not a guy, so where does that leave me? Do I no longer exist? You know what I mean? That’s the farce of it, really. And the other point I wanted to pick up on, which shocks me a little bit but I have never tried. I was already married, and I’ve never had to think about it. However, I am really disappointed that they can’t be flexible in how they manage ceremonies and paperwork. Why do we need a gender recognition certificate or a birth certificate to be recognised for who we feel we are? Why should anybody have to take a title on that they don’t feel suits them? There is no relevance to their place in life or society.

Mia Violet:
Yeah, exactly. It doesn’t make any sense. I think where we are as a society and the culture now. It’s just doesn’t have a reason to exist. Everything should just be self-identifying. It’s not going to harm anyone if we bring that in. It’s very demoralising.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
I remember when I was studying medical law, and there was a case we were studying, and it is about how you interpret the law. And there was a case that we studied where the law says that if you are mending the railway tracks and something happens to you, your wife or your partner will get compensation. So, there was this guy, where he wasn’t mending the tracks, he was just doing general upkeep of the tracks, and he got (unclear 28:16) and died. And his wife was claiming that benefit. But the law said that you only got that if you were mending tracks, not upkeeping the tracks, and so the wife didn’t get the benefit. So, it goes back to although what we talk about is the kind of at a social level and what we understand should happen, and what is right, if the law says that you have male on your birth certificate, you have to be called husband, that’s written in the law. And it is really hard, isn’t it? Because how can we, people like us challenge what is written down in that really technical language on those law conventions or whatever they are, you know? But we’ve got to, haven’t we? We’ve got to stand proud and say the law needs to be written. You need to rewrite it because you got it wrong. It’s not your fault you got it wrong. You wrote it—at the time, you wrote it in the best interest of everybody. But sorry, you made a mistake, and we need to rewrite that now. And it’s about having those people whose lives got time and investment to do that. But it needs to be done, doesn’t it? And I so agree with you on the self-identification thing. And that is what I guess we’ve been talking about this morning, isn’t it, really? You know this is me, believe me.

Mia Violet:
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think it’s also like—the example that you just used there. That’s an obvious example of where the intent of the law was one thing, but due to syntax and the exact wording that they have used, it’s stuck in another way. And I feel like that is sort of what you see going on with all the equality stuff, where you look at like the trans protection, and it’s like, okay, what is gender reassignment? Like what actually is that if we talk about it? And I think going through our world in general when it comes to trans rights and the laws for trans people; we need to be really clear in the language so there is no room for kind of interpreting a different way. What I’m kind of dancing around, is like a lot of people think it means surgery. But obviously, surgery is not available to everyone. It’s not what everybody wants. So, I think we definitely, as a culture, need to move away from the idea of that transition is a pathway and it ends in surgery. Because it doesn’t for a lot of people.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
Again, it’s those milestones, isn’t it? You are not trans enough if you don’t go all the way.

Mia Violet:
Exactly, yeah.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
And of course, you are. Different people have different needs, don’t they? I was just thinking when you were talking before, you know, please can we have some trans people on the panel when they rewrite the law? Can we make sure we get the language, right? And not have a bunch of cis people thinking I think this is the probably what’s right. Let’s have some people who actually understand that.

Mia Violet:
Yeah, it reminds me of when I was at work, and I know I keep saying this, but I mentioned it in the book, and I was in an equalities meeting at work when got a new job, and I had looked at the trans policy, and it was really bad. It was really old language, and I looked at it, and as a trans person, I was like no trans person touched this. No trans person proofread this, looked at this. I could just tell. So, in the equalities meeting they said does anyone have any comments or anything about the equalities in our company? And I was just like, um, the trans policy stinks. It’s just terrible. And I was like I am willing to help rewrite it, but at the moment it is terrible. And to their credit, they did get in touch, and I sat down, and we wrote a new policy. The final policy that went into writing was just quarter the length of the original one. There was so much fluff, and there were so much all these details that I was like, you don’t need any of that. I was just like, you know, self-identify, you know, transition is on the person’s own timeline, because it was all bizarre timeline in the original one. It was like, this week you ‘ll come out, and this week you’ll go away, and then this week you’ll come back. And I was like, why, who is this benefitting. So yeah, I agree, we need to involve trans people because we understand and obviously from our lived experience how it should be done. And I think all of the times—as you say with law, sometimes it is well-meaning, I have no ill well of cis people who are like I am just trying to help, but I don’t get it. I definitely think there is a difference between writing these things and trying to restrict peoples’ rights. And writing them and thinking I think this is what people want. And we just kind of gently educate and be like, okay, this needs changing then. That’s kind of the way forward.

Marianne Oakes:
From my own understanding as well, there are charities that will go around and help companies, you know? Maybe these companies try to do it to be politically correct, pay lip service, and actually get it wrong. But you know bringing in people, trans people, with lived experience, and actually talking to other companies that have gone through it as well. It’s the same with the schools, young kids they are coming out at school, and the school is kind of going through a bit of a meltdown about it and trying to overcompensate or get irritated at the child because of the problem’s that it’s causing the individuals having to sort this. But I am sure there is plenty of help out there.

Mia Violet:
Yeah, I mean, because we’ve got a situation where this has such drastically different supportive levels in schools. I think again about volunteering and talking to parents. I remember hearing from one parent who was having such an exhausting, horrible time, trying to just get some support for their kid. And for instance, I was at an event in (unclear 34:18), and I was talking to a trans teenager, and I was like oh, how is school going? It was such an adult thing to do, like, how is school? But I meant like, you are transitioning, how is the school taking it? Are they supporting you? And she was just like, yeah, it’s cool. And I was like, oh, okay. Everyone’s taking it well. Teachers are protecting you. And she was like, yeah, it’s fine, no problem. And I was just so delighted, I was like, cool, cool. But I was surprised because I had heard so many horror stories. It’s nice to know some places are getting it right, isn’t it? It’s such a dice roll at the moment.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
I guess she’s not trans enough, you now? School wasn’t horrific for her, and she didn’t get bullied. I guess she’s not trans enough.

Mia Violet:
Yeah, of course.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
I’m joking. Sorry. Isn’t it interesting? Because people like you, Marianne, people like you, Mia, have got the strength to stand up, to write, to say, to speak, to show people that, you know, that the way the future is going to be better for trans people are more inclusive and right. And we talked about that policy in your workplace that you volunteered to help write it for the good. And I am sometimes scared for these situations where, oh, you are trans, therefore you must lead the way on this project because you are trans and you must educate us. And people are like, oh, I am not ready in my life to do this. I am struggling with my own place, and I am not ready. And I think people should be really careful, haven’t we, that this is a voluntary thing, rather than just because that you are trans then you have to take that step and a really responsible position.

Mia Violet:
I was just going to say, on social media a lot, when you come out as trans, it’s kind of up to you what you do next. We don’t show up and be like, welcome, you’ve been conscripted into the trans army, these are your responsibilities, you’ll be deployed here. Cause I talked to a lot of people. Whenever I do Q&A events, a lot of the times one of the themes that come up is people are like, I feel bad because I’m not doing enough, I’m not helping enough, I’m not enough of an activist. And I said you are allowed to just live. If you want to do activism, you can help out, awesome. But not everyone is built to be on the front line, some of us are people who support those around us. Some of us have a lot going on in their lives, and we need to look after ourselves, and that’s fine. And I’m thinking that that’s related to the workplace of exactly, just because you’re trans doesn’t mean that you want to become this ambassador as well. I always try and say that I am only one trans person, that’s it. I don’t speak for trans people. I don’t understand all the trans experiences. Everything I do is just from me. And I really think more people need to understand that. Like, if I show up to an event, I am talking as Mia Violet, I am not talking about a trans woman who is representing the community and explaining all the truths, because none of us can do that. So, I really wish the organisations would kind of understand, like, if we’ve got a trans person here, maybe we can ask if they want to help, but also, we need to reach out as well. It kind of restricts me a little bit, as well. Because the company I work for, I wish they would reach out to the community more, and I wish they would kind of get a wider collection of opinions and thoughts. When they are doing things like crafting the trans policy, but unfortunately, a lot of the time people think, well, a trans person looked at it and ticked it, so it’s fine, it’s fine.

Marianne Oakes:
I was going to follow up on these to kind of support what you were saying, Mia, as well. I think a lot of people when they come out, the last thing they want to do is standing in front of everybody and talking about it. The biggest fear of trans people coming out that I’ve experienced is I don’t want a fanfare. I don’t want a spotlight. I just want to actually integrate in quietly, get on with my job, be respected for what I do, not who I am. You know, and actually this. These fireworks go off and before you know it, they say, you know, you can stand in front of the HR team and explain all the problems that you are going to have. Well, first one’s here.

Mia Violet:
I mean, I also feel like, sorry, I’m very coughy this morning, I’m not used to talking so much this early in the morning. I was just thinking, about like, because there are like certain areas of my life where I don’t mind standing out and going like I am trans let’s talk about it. Because in my job I work at a front desk, so I am totally fine with being like, I am a trans person at that job. Because I kind of like when other trans people come in, and I can be like, hey, hi, and they see, oh, it’s cool. But there are other areas of my life where it’s like, if I am meeting new friends, I can’t be bothered talking about it because I was thinking when I went to an LGBT social group recently. Lovely people. But we were there, and I mentioned I am trans, but I don’t want to be talking about it a lot of the time. And someone there was like, oh, so what is it like being a trans woman and living where you live? And I was like, I liked it way after, like I am really here to chat and whatever. I am a person beyond a trans person. I think that is a kind of a bit of frustration in everyday life in general. I do worry that sometimes I walk in and people would see like trans as I walk in as the very first thing. I mean, I do like other things. I do other things. I am more than that. But yeah, I assume that’s a problem, and it will solve itself as time goes on, kind of as people become more used to the idea that trans people are everywhere. For instance, I don’t want to go on a tangent, but just quickly, I did a talk on International Women’s Day this month, and I was talking to the organiser afterwards, and she was saying, oh, it is really good. A lot of people came up and said it’s the first time they’ve ever seen a trans person. And I was like, no it’s not. You think it is. It’s the first time a trans person was in front of you and said I am trans. It is not the first time. For starters, there were at least two other trans people in the room, in the audience, so I can tell you I wasn’t even the first trans person you’d seen that day. But yeah, that’s where we are culturally, I guess.

Marianne Oakes:
I suppose the hope is, actually, because we talk about trans rights, and I think one of the frustrations I have is that we have to have specific rights just to exist. And I think the more visible we become, the less—I think there will always be there—but the less they will be verbalised. That actually, on our birth certificate, it will just be something we do like applying for a passport. Any other kind of documentation that we do. And that’s what hopefully other generations coming through. Because again, its people know that’s my passion really. It isn’t about me, no. My time’s gone. It’s about the people following through that they are able to just live a life where being trans doesn’t define them, where they are not the first trans person to have been at that school or in that job. And that actually it will just be another part of ordinary life.

Mia Violet:
Yeah, exactly. Like I always say, I am very grateful for the people who have come before me and my generation. And who have made things so much easier for me. And I feel like there is a responsibility, as a whole, not as individuals, but like, as a whole, for our generation to make sure that the next generation have it easier as we can make it. And just leave it better than we found it. Because, like, we need to make it better for ourselves, sure. But yeah, the main focus for me has always been like let’s just make sure that the kids come out and have a better time.

Marianne Oakes:
I think one of the issues, probably, the risk of upsetting potentially one or two of our listeners is I think sometimes a lot of the activism is done by the older people, my generation. And the reality is what we grew up through isn’t relevant now. And I think sometimes, even to some of the people or some friends of mine, and I apologize, but they are sometimes not understanding that activism is different now. What we need to be fighting for is what’s relevant now. I think at Gender GP, correct me if I am wrong, Helen, but you know when we started, there were a lot of people, shall we say, forty-plus?

Dr. Helen Webberley:
Yeah.

Marianne Oakes:
And now it’s twenty-five and under a lot. And that’s in a few short years. So, arguing, we want everybody’s rights included. But the road forward is for the next thirteen, fourteen, fifteen-year-old to be comfortable to get a good education and to go on and have careers and fulfilling relationships without the dogma of certificates and boards of people that we never even get to meet, do you know?

Mia Violet:
Yeah, honestly, that’s a great point. Like, I was at an event, I was speaking, so important. I was asked a question when I was being interviewed last month, and someone said, “So, if someone said do you want to write a guidebook for trans teenagers, would you do it?” And I said, “No, I wouldn’t do it.” and they were like, “Why not?” And I was like, “Because I am not a trans teenager.” Like, I was one. But I am not now. And like, what is it like, coming out now? What is it like being a trans teenager right now? I don’t know. My advice would be best, you know, on like fifteen-year-old experiences, which is just not relevant. And I am very kind of aware of this. And I think all of us activists need to be aware of this as well. When we transition, it is like, okay. Those are experiences in that time. And time moves very, very quickly when it comes to this stuff. So, I think we always need to listen to the younger generation, we always need to make sure we are not always boosting the same voices over and over again. Introduce new people. We need to talk to new people. Again, if it’s just us, the same people talking again and again and again, our experiences are going to become less and less relevant. And then the people who need help now who are coming out, they’re not going to be able to relate to us. And at that point, why are we even doing it? I am worried about this. And I do try to think of it for myself, as well. Like I said on Twitter, I was like, I think there should sort of be a sell-by date when it comes to standing on a platform and saying I am speaking for trans people. And I include myself in this. Five years ago, I started transitioning, and I am like, it’s quite a while ago now. And I think there is going to be a point where I have to be like, okay, I can talk about my experiences about what it’s like to be a trans person right now living as trans, and I can talk about how it felt when I was a kid back then, but I can\t talk about what it’s like coming out right now because I simply do not know. It is not relevant anymore.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
But it’s what relevant is your next hurdle, which is being a wife on your marriage certificate.

Mia Violet:
Sure, yeah.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
That is still ages ahead for you, I’m sure. And there are going to be someone like you, an activist like you, is going to be so useful for the rest of your life, whether—

Mia Violet:
Yeah, sure. I feel like I will be here as long as people want me here.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
Don’t go, don’t go, we still need you. I remember this mum on Twitter, and because going back to talking about those certificates we need, and she said, I need to correct my daughter’s birth certificate. And I loved that image. It’s not her fault. It’s not that family’s fault. That someone wrote it wrong. Someone wrote son, and it’s not. It’s daughter. And I love that concept of correcting these things. Your birth certificate needs to be corrected; it’s wrong. And we don’t want to be in a position where you get married now and then not only have you got to correct your birth certificate, but you’ve got to correct your marriage certificate as well. Let’s get it right this time.

Mia Violet:
It’s a great way of putting it. It makes the whole sense. Like, why would we go forward with documents that we know are wrong? Like, let’s just change the law so we can make it easier to correct them. Why would we not do that?

Dr. Helen Webberley:
I think, Marianne, you talked about trans rights. Trans rights are just the same as every other human right. And I think, you know, the three of us today, talking about advocacy. I am in a kind of position as a healthcare professional where I will be able to have an influence on policies and things like that. And it’s really important, that activists like you teach policymakers like me, I guess, how to get this right. And it’s so interesting. Every single time I talk to somebody new, something comes up, and I am like, oh yeah, I haven’t got of that. And you know, it’s really important to have these discussions. I hope that our listeners have found it as, again, as amazing and informing as I have. And thank you so much, Mia, for joining us today.

Mia Violet:
That’s okay. Thank you for inviting me. It’s been fun. I mean, I always enjoy any excuse to just chat.

Dr. Helen Webberley:
Let me know when it’s the next event. Don’t stop doing events. If anybody wants to have a look at Mia’s book, we’ll put a link in the bottom of the podcast so that anyone can have a look, because it sounds like—I haven’t read it, but it sounds like it’s going to be a very good read. I am sure you’ll join me, Marianne, in thanking Mia today.

Marianne Oakes:
It’s been great, Mia, thank you for coming and joining us.

Mia Violet:
Oh, thank you.

 

Thank you. We hope you enjoyed our program. Do go ahead and subscribe if you haven’t done so already. If you or anyone else is affected by any of the topics discussed on our podcast and would like to contact us, please drop us a line at doctor@gendergp.co.uk. We’re very happy to accept ideas for future episodes and guests, or if there is something specific you would like us to cover. You can also visit our website, www.gendergp.co.uk. You can follow us on social media @gendergp, and you can sign up to our monthly newsletter. Full details can be found in our show notes on the podcast page. Thanks for listening.

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