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Musician, Steph May, joins Dr Helen and Marianne, to discuss her new single:, “One Life”, which has been released today (March 26th) ahead of Trans Day of Visibility 2021 (March 31st). Together they discuss what visibility means to them and the importance of trans role models.

Steph is calling on the trans community and its allies to support her in getting into the UK singles chart, in time for this year’s Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31st.

Let’s do what we can to give her the boost she needs. The target is 8,000 downloads or 800,000 premium user streams from the track’s release date today (26th March).

 

Links:

Spotify
Amazon
YouTube
Deezer

It can also be streamed from Apple Music and downloaded from iTunes, just search: “Steph May – One Life”

If you have been affected by any of the topics discussed in our podcast, and would like to get in touch, please contact us via the Help Centre. You can also contact us on social media where you will find us at @GenderGP on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

We are always happy to accept ideas for future shows, so if there is something in particular you would like us to discuss, or a specific guest you would love to hear from, let us know. Your feedback is really important to us. If you could take a minute or two to leave us a rating and a review for the podcast on your favourite podcast app, it will help others to discover us.

 

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The GenderGP Podcast

Music and Trans Visibility with Steph May

 

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:
Hey everybody, Dr Helen Webberley here, and Marianne. We have an exciting guest with us today called Steph. So Steph, as is the normal way for GenderGP, I’m going to pass straight over to you.

Steph May:
Okay. So I’m Steph, I’m a trans woman. I guess the reason why I’m here today is because I’m trying to do something for visibility for TDOV and yeah, I’m just looking to try and get the word out there really, and try and get a bit of visibility out there. I’m quite new to all this still. I would say I’ve been in the sort of the scene, the trans community scene on social media say for four years or so, but when it comes to actual visibility, I’ve only transitioned just over a year ago. And so a lot of this stuff is still really new to me, even TDOV as a trans woman is still new to me as well, to a certain extent I’ve mainly watched it on the fringes. I’ve always had a love for music. I started playing guitar when I was 12. I started writing music straight away. That’s something I started doing at the age 13 or 14. It’s probably really in music the only thing that I really love doing is writing music. I tend to not enjoy a lot of the other stuff that much. So from the age of 14, I started playing in bands, but a lot of people always say that playing music and playing live and playing in bands is the thing that they really love. And there wasn’t really that for me as much, I liked the sort of 20 minutes on stage, but I hated all the carrying the gear around, the waiting to go on stage, the watching bands I didn’t really want to watch, you know, so yeah, I guess I’m a bit impatient with that kind of stuff, but yeah, always loved music was brought up on it. My dad played me Led Zeppelin and ACDC when I was a kid. And that’s kind of what I grew up on, but I like all sorts of music. I guess music for me now is, is more something I enjoy to listen to. Writing music is, is quite a relaxing experience for me now. It’s something that I do if I need to take my mind off everyday life. I can lose myself in writing music for five, six hours, and the rest of everything else in the world disappears. So that’s what I use that for now. Whereas funnily enough, in the past me writing music was, although I really loved it. It was actually quite a stressful experience for me. I would be trying so hard to do what I thought I needed to do to sort of break it in the music industry. I was putting so much pressure on myself that I wasn’t enjoying the experience at all. And I was keeping myself awake really late at night because I couldn’t go to sleep until I got this part done. And, you know, it was a really, really stressful experience. But once I kind of, you know, that intertwined with my transition quite a lot. And, and once I kind of worked all that out and came out the other side of it, music writing now is actually an extremely peaceful, relaxing part of my life.

Dr Helen Webberley:
So tell us about your single, why this, where did the audition come from? Someone like you to have a single end up in the top 40, and what does that single mean to us, to, to the people listening to you?

Steph May:
So, I mean, I guess, last year–you need to go back a little bit. So last year in the first lockdown, you know, I’d come out at work about a month before lockdown. And then I was working from home. I live on my own. So all of a sudden I was just in this, in this bubble on my own. And so I decided last year to write an album, which was called sort of quite autobiographical. So I was kind of at each song was representing a different year of my life. And I was trying to put it all out there and kind of be like, well, that’s my past, I’m not going to forget about it, but I need to, it’s almost like writing it down in a diary. It was like, well, I put it on this and get it out and I’ll do it now while I’ve got all this time free, because, you know, when’s the best time to really put effort into writing music then when you really have nothing else that you can do. So, you know, I, I put all my time into that. I released that just before my birthday and it was entitled, it was title 35, which was the age I was when I released it. So, and after that, I kind of, you know, we started opening up a little bit, we could go out and do a few things. So I kind of forgot about music and just kind of left it up there and then lockdown happened again this year. And I wrote this song called One Life, which it was a really, really quick song for me to write. I wrote it in about 15 minutes. And it took me a little bit longer to record it, obviously put it altogether. But the actual writing of it was really quick.

 

[Song excerpt playing from 5:05 to 5:38]

 

Steph May:
And there’s no story to it. Not like with the last album, there’s no specific, this is what I’m trying to do. But I guess for me, it was the idea of the song was about positivity and how, when you get yourself into a positive position, then more positive things just seem to happen. That kind of framework of that as well. So that’s why I was thinking about when I was writing it, because for me, that’s kind of what transition has done. It’s changed my outlook to something more positive because of that, and because I’m much more positive in the things that I address and the things that I get involved in, I feel like I get a lot more positive outcomes from things that I do. So that, that’s kinda, that was the idea of why I did that. So when I wrote this song and, you know, I thought it’d be really nice to get it out there and whether it being so positive for me the transition, I thought it would be really good to try and get it out for this reason. So, so that was the sort of thinking behind it. The timing worked really nice with TDOV. And yeah, so I just thought, why not? Why not give it a go? Like I said, it’s, you know, I’ve been writing music in the last year and a half, but in this little bubble in lockdown. So it’s, it’s not like you get to go out and create a fan base or anything like that. And that’s not really what I’m looking for. You know, I’m not looking for a life in this, you know, I still love writing music, but it’s just I guess it’s using some things that I feel I’ve got some skills out to try and do something for visibility reasons. I certainly don’t feel comfortable being that person that goes on Twitter and can address people and have conversations on Twitter. I don’t feel comfortable with that kind of thing. It’s not really me. So I’m trying to use something that I feel I’m quite good at to, to do sort of like a positive, you know, something visible, which is also positive.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Explain to me, Marianne’s going to be best in the musical questions, but I’m not actually that musical, but I do like listening to music. I certainly can’t open my mouth and I can’t play. Tell me what the, what do you mean by visibility? So you mentioned Twitter, but this is a different medium by which to, I don’t know, share a story or be visible. Why is visibility important to you and to the community? What does it mean?

Steph May:
For me, it’s about being able to see people who are like you doing things in life that you may also want to do. If that makes sense. When I was younger, I mean, I’m talking when I first started dealing with, with my gender dysphoria, it must have been mid nineties, maybe mid to late nineties. I didn’t really, I didn’t really even know what transgender was then. I really didn’t see anyone anywhere and being so heavily involved in music. But, you know, I think if there had been more people in music, mainstream music that I was aware of who were trans, then I think that may have helped me understand myself a lot more at that age. I certainly didn’t have any of that. And I think that visibility is really important and everything, you know, like, like, you know, politics in all sorts of life, you know, imagine a trans newsreader on mainstream TV or on radio. You know, we have stuff in the fringes on smaller channels and maybe more independent radio stations. But I just think, you know,for me personally, when I was younger, trying to understand who I was, and also whether I could still be what I want to be, what would being, who I am. I think it would have been really important to see, see people like that. So I understand this there’s loads of different ways to be visible. I think that, you know, having someone that I could have seen, I think would have really helped me personally, and I know it must be the same for a lot of other people as well.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Marianne?

Marianne Oakes:
There is so much in what you said that, so where to start? I think one of the things I did enjoy, actually, you talk about how you developed as a musician.

Steph May:
Yeah.

Marianne Oakes:
I identify as a musician but it doesn’t mean my expenses are the same as yours and that what I get out of being a musician will be the same as you. And I think their misconception is when we talk about transgender people and finding our identity, everybody sets off trying to meet the model of transness. And actually it’s an evolution and find out who we are and how do we hang on to the other elements of our identity. And I think you kind of, I don’t know if that was your intention, but that’s what I heard when you were talking that you’ve managed to keep your identity as a musician and transition and find your gender identity. So that’s the first thing. I think from a visibility point of view, I get a little frustrated. If I’m honest, when we talk about transgender day of visibility, it’s a bit like pride parades, isn’t it? You know, you see somebody walking down the road in (unclear 10:47) and then on Monday morning, they’re sat behind a desk in the bank giving out bank loans, and you wouldn’t know where they were. You know that, then what do we mean by visibility? Do we just pop our head up above the parapet for one day and then disappear again? And I like the idea of a song going into the charts where they can just see a person singing a song that people might like and can buy because they liked the song and oh, and by the way, they are trans. And I think that is really positive visibility. I’ve got a friend who was a member of a support group. I want so at a support group, cause I don’t want to offend anybody, but they, they want to go and stand outside the tap that local town hall with placards and get the press to come and take a photograph of them on transgender day of visibility. And my friend said, well, why don’t we go letter picking? Why don’t we go and do something that people can relate to that we’re not just the protest. We are people that are part of the community and oh no, no, no. And they ended up with the placards in front of the town hall. And I just think, you know, so I think, you know, this visibility thing for me, it’s really important that people do see ordinary people doing ordinary things and not being restricted by that. And I think what you’re doing kind of demonstrates that.

Steph May:
I mean, that’s something I think I said when I wrote the blog post for GenderGP was, you know, I guess that there’s loads of things that I am as well as being trans and I wouldn’t necessarily put trans at the front. And I think a lot of people who may be on surrounded by trans people or know trans people, that’s the first thing that they will, they will almost put that to the top, you know? Oh, so you’re trans it’s like, well, yeah, but actually, yeah, I’m a woman. I’m also a musician. I work in an office. I have a daughter, I have a sister, you know, there’s, there’s so many things about me and I’m really, I wouldn’t put trans anywhere near the top of that. When it comes to me who I am and my personality, but it is there and I’m proud of it. And I think people should realize that, you know, that people are trans, but they still have all these other things that they like and are good at. And I know in common with, with everyone else, you know, there’s a lot of similarities. And so, yeah, I guess that kind of visibility is really, really important for that because you can see trans people just doing everyday things or doing things that they’re good at. And it’s not just, I’m trans and I’m shouting about it because I want something, you know, obviously that is really important as well, but yeah, there’s other sides of it as well.

Marianne Oakes:
We’re not one dimensional. That’s the the truth of the matter. It’s a shame that a lot of trans people date, I like the way you spoke about everything is a facet of our identity. And we shouldn’t ever forget that. And I’ve been using the idea that if, you know, if we put our identity into a pie chart, you know, all parts of our identity should take an equal portion of the pie chart. And the trans is only an equal portion. Shouldn’t be forgotten. It should be equally valued. The trouble is I think two things happen. I think when we’re discovering our transness, a lot of people do tend to focus solely on that one part of their identity. And that’s where they can come out the other end, disappointed that they’ve suddenly realized they’ve sacrificed all this other stuff. And I do think that’s one of the challenges of transition, keeping our identity, keeping who we are, at keeping, keeping ourselves interesting is really real important. I think that kind of can get forgotten.

Steph May:
Yeah. I think it’s quite, it’s quite difficult as well in some aspects. I think, you know, I think maybe in music, it might be a little bit easier. I also used to play golf. Maybe it doesn’t tie in with the whole rockstar thing that much, but you know, that’s something that I, I’m still trying to sort of feel comfortable going back to and that’s taking, I would say a little bit longer than maybe music is because I don’t know. I guess it’s, there’s a, there’s a bit of a different feeling with it. Maybe it’s sport. I mean, and I am starting to go back there slowly, but it is a lot more of a slower process than, than just going back into music was.

Marianne Oakes:
It’s interesting. Isn’t it? Sorry, Helen. I’m dominating it’s I think what’s really interesting there is that people have an image of what rockstar should do. And for example, what’s the singer of Alice Cooper loves golf. You know what I mean? Nobody would say how this Cooper’s not rock and roll because he plays golf, you know? And actually it’s interesting to, you know, the vision of what trans people do. Well, we’re not musicians, we’re not coffers. We don’t, you know, we don’t have this whole life. We’re just, it’s all focused on that. So in a way, you know, rock and roll you know, the rock and roll image, I think it was Led Zeppelin, that wrote that, you know, if, if, if everything they said about us was true, we had a far more interesting life than we realize, because the truth of the matter is we create an image of what it is to be rock and roll. But there’s always more beyond that, that they are just ordinary painful at times. My wife Vicki has said (unclear 16:22) you know, they’re just an ordinary person? Because what goes before them dominates and we don’t see beyond that when we meet them stars, whoever, we are just ordinary people,

Dr Helen Webberley:
What I’m hearing and it’s new to me is is that actually what we don’t want, you don’t the transness to be the, to be the image that we’re portraying, the image that we’ll put we’re portraying is that newsreaders can be cis or trans or gay whatever. And so can musicians. And so can school teachers. And actually sometimes I think we do is, you know, if you, if you’ve got a trans teacher on the board, you kind of put them up, go look how good we are, because we have a trans teacher on our board. Do you know what I mean? We’ll look how good, well, we’ve got a trans character in our production, our play, or our soap opera. Look how good we’re being. And actually what we want to do is just have that have every sector of society just joining in without waiving that placard, Marianne, which is saying, look how good I am for being so inclusive we’re working towards just being inclusive. And I think stuff that would have given you what you needed when you were young, just to see people like you being ordinary in the society, accepted, happy, joining in the role. And as you say, Marianne, by the way, they’re trans, but so what doesn’t matter kind of thing. So I think that’s a really, it’s, it’s taught me what, what you are meaning by visibility.

Marianne Oakes:
I think the challenge is and I think you’re approaching it brilliantly, if you don’t mind, Steph, because you’re doing something very ordinary, and being visible. And I think that’s the, you know, we don’t want, we don’t want to do is we don’t want to be inclusive and not have our identity recognized, you know, it, you know, but we’re not just writing music and never being seen to have written. It’s a bit like the songwriters, I suppose, in the sixties, you know, people go, did you know Neil Diamond wrote such a song for such a way cause he was on this treadmill, but that wasn’t ever going to be enough for Neil Diamond. He needed to be recognized as a musician, as a, as a person. I don’t think, you know, we don’t want to erase our trans identity. What we don’t want is it to be front and center all the time that we want to be valued for what we give back to society for how good at friendships we have, how good as teachers we are. How good a newsreader we are, you know? So I think, yeah, I think that, again, coming back to the single, I just think it’s a great way to be visible and be ordinary and be recognized for all your identity, I suppose.

 

[Song excerpt playing from 19:13 to 19:26]

 

Steph May:
I think when the trans part gets put at the top, I think it’s quite often, you almost get othered a little bit then, because that’s something that a lot of people don’t have in common with you. Whereas if there’s other things first, you know, musician or office worker or business person, or, you know, whatever it is then when people have something to relate to you there, and the trans part is just something else. Like, I don’t know. Some people like dogs, you know, it’s something that it’s a bit, you know, people don’t have everything in common with each other, do they? But I think obviously when, when, when the trans thing becomes the top and that’s the first thing they think when they think of you, it does kind of other you from other people, because obviously there aren’t a lot of trans people around in the world. So some people can look at it that way. So I think it is nice to see everything as a person, as well as the trans thing. Yeah.

Marianne Oakes:
Do you find that your music makes more sense to you now to other people? Do you know that I’m sure you must’ve been writing about being hidden or no, not being seen. I don’t know if you did, but you know, that actually writing music now makes sense that it’s relatable.

Steph May:
I think what is different now, but I don’t think people would like listen to my old songs and things. I can see a reference there. And I think for me now, I think I feel a lot more, I mean, one thing that I’ve always struggled with is lyrics and stuff like that. And I think, I think since I’ve been through all this process, and obviously there’s a lot of things that you learn about yourself in transition, there’s a lot of things that you, you get to a point where you go, I feel a lot more comfortable doing anything now because I’ve just been through this and it’s so difficult and it’s, it’s in stages. It feels embarrassing even though it shouldn’t be. So I think you gain a lot more confidence in yourself. And so I guess music with music writing, lyrically, I feel a lot more comfortable now just putting down what I actually feel. Whereas maybe in the past I was hiding myself a little bit behind my lyrics. So I guess that’s the thing I probably would say about, about music. I feel a lot more comfortable with just, just putting out a song now that may be in the past, I’m not sure if that sounds really neat, you know, and now it’s just all I’ve written this, this is me and it’s going out there.

Marianne Oakes:
You’re not giving anything away anymore. You know, you’re not. Yeah. I think we, we, I I’ve started using the term masking, in that, you know, we spend our lives masking our transness and when we’re doing that, it is going to affect the other things that we do. And it is going to infer, you know, that, that being in company and thinking, can I say this, you know, having to check everything that’s about to come out of your mouth, how am I going to give myself away? It must be the same in your liberty, right? And I can’t imagine it wasn’t.

Steph May:
Yeah. I guess like, you know, in the background, you always, in the past, I would always be thinking if I need to make sure that I’m keeping this really well hidden. You know, I remember when I was living in Manchester with the band and one of the members is working in a store and they had loads of like stock that they were just getting rid of because they couldn’t get rid of it. And one of them was like, it was a men’s wallet, but it was pink. And I remember saying, no offense, I don’t want that. You know, and in the back of my mind, I knew it was a men’s wallet. So it wouldn’t have caused any issues, you know, pretransition. But because it was pink, I was like, well, I just don’t, I don’t want to, I just don’t want to take any risks. I don’t want to be, you know, it’s really stupid to look back on. But at the time, every little thing is analyzed to be like, well, am I, am I giving away here that I might be trans? You know, is that and if there’s any hint of it, it’s now we’ll take that away.

Marianne Oakes:
I can relate to that completely, completely. You would be conscious of, even though you sit down sometimes, you know, if I cross my legs and I suddenly thought, Oh God, you know, you would be, you would be (unclear 23:19) was to not be read. So yeah, it does affect every moment of every day and every interaction and I don’t always recognize how difficult it was till now. I don’t know if that’s the same for you, that it just became a way of being, but now I’ve moved beyond that. It’s become so much easier. You realize how difficult you’ve made life for ourselves, I suppose.

Steph May:
I don’t think at the time I realized, but, but now I look back on it and it just looks really tiring as well. You know, you kind of like, I always felt like I was living my normal life, but I was also trying to deal with all these mad thoughts that were going on in my head and trying to like work out who I was or how I could be who I am or how I could stay hidden and all these thoughts. So you’re doing two things at once there, but then you also making sure that every element of what you do and what you say, doesn’t give anything away of what you’re hiding. So you’ve got all these things going on at once. So when I look back at it now, I just think I don’t, I must’ve been so tired all the time. And just trying to battle all these things while also just trying to be present in the moment as well with the people that you’re with, which is something that I always struggled with pre-Transition, that’s one thing that people who know me would say they’ve seen a difference of is that I’m a lot more in the moment now. I don’t, I don’t have all these things going on in my head. And yeah. So I looked back on it and I just think that is really tiring after do that whilst also living.

Marianne Oakes:
I think there’s also the other thing that’s tiring. I, and again, I don’t know if it’s the same for everybody else, but you’re here. So I’m going to ask you, I tended to fill my time, so I didn’t have time to think about my transness. So the band was one way I did it. I used to play Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights, and all that lumping the gear around and working all day, then having to fill the van at night and go out and do the gigs and drop it all and put it all away to get it out. The next that, you know, I don’t realize actually all I was doing was distracting. I didn’t make a lot of money. There was no real financial benefit. Oh, the only benefit was it stopped me having to think about this other part I had filled the time. So yeah. It’s tiring in so many ways.

Steph May:
It is. Yeah. I mean, I always felt, felt that I was fine when I was living with friends. You know, when you’re, when you’re house sharing, you tend to find that you have very little alone time, you know, there’s always someone else in the house. There’s always something going on. I think it was, it was only when I, when I moved out as a, you know, as I got into my twenties and I moved out and eventually I was living on my own flat. And I think that’s when it gets a lot, but that’s when you start challenging your own thoughts and you start really trying to work out what it is that, you know, but why am I living on my own now? Why am, why am I not going out as much? Why am I not? You know, and then slowly you start unraveling all of this. And so it kind of goes, I think it was, I was very much keeping myself occupied music, friends, but then coming out of that, as I started to become more of a recluse, I really started to struggle with it that I learn time in a way as difficult as it was. It gave me that time to eventually bring myself out and work out what it was that was causing all these issues and how I could address it. And it was a really slow process. But yeah, so I guess I would like to go through that stage again.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Interesting. I’m fascinated. I am actually, and I’m thinking as well, because of the way that healthcare options and acceptance and understanding has improved over the last, I don’t know, 5, 10 years, we will have young people now who don’t necessarily have to make this big transition that you both had to make from living an opposite gendered life to to your true gendered life. So, you know, a previous male life where you weren’t allowed to have a pink wallet and you weren’t allowed to have daintily crossed legs to a life now where you are able to have a pink purse or a pink wallet, and you’re able to daintily cross your legs if that’s what you wish to do. So, but there will be young people who have had the benefit of a very early social, social transition and have spent their childhood in that true gender and will have had puberty blockers so that nobody actually, if they didn’t want to disclose anything would ever know that, that at any time of their life, they haven’t been perceived as anything other than their gender. So I’m wondering what people like those, those kinds of people who have had the benefit or luxury, if that’s what they, they feel who had that experience, what do they feel about visibility? Because I know there are many people who say, I don’t want anyone to know that I am trans and I don’t want to be at all visible. And I don’t want this transness to be a part of my pie chart. I don’t want it to be part of my identity. I don’t want it to be part of my life. I want to forget that and just be me. So what does trans visibility mean to those people and how can we bring those two together?

Steph May:
I guess for me, the answer is, I don’t know, because I’m not in that position. I don’t know how I would feel about that, but if that’s what they would want, I’d completely respect that. But if they didn’t want to be visible and they didn’t want people to know they’re trans and I, I guess I’m in a bit of a strange position with what I’m doing with this single, because I’m almost crossing myself in what I’m saying. I’m saying that I don’t want trans to be the first thing people know about me, but then I’m putting a single out there around the same week as TDOV and saying, I’m a trans woman, here’s my music. So, you know, it’s one of them, but I guess there has to be for me, some kind of, I guess, like you said, because I transitioned quite late. Let me say later in life, but in my thirties, I see an importance of trying to be a little bit visible for other people who may be going through what I was going through. And I guess I’ve always felt as well that I didn’t, this, this first part of the sentence might sound a bit crazy, but I mean, it’s not crazy but bad, but I didn’t transition to be trans. I transitioned because I’m a woman and that helped me facilitate it. And I think some people just stop there and they say, well, I’ve transitioned because I’m a woman and that’s it. There’s nothing else. I don’t want it to be a part of any of the other part of it, which again is fine if that’s what they want. But I understand that because of that, I am trans and politically, and for health reasons and for all sorts of other reasons in everyday life, it’s important that I’m aware of that. And I’m proud of that as well, because it’s just something that it’s just part of who I am and you can’t take that away. It’s there, isn’t it. It’s just that, that’s it. But and that’s why I guess I, I feel I need a little bit of visibility for that reasons because you know, it is part of me. That’s not necessarily what I wanted in a, in a strange way of saying that, you know, I don’t want to be trans I’m a woman but I have to transition but I’m trans. So therefore I’m proud of it. And I want to try and make people see trans people in every different way and not just being trans.

Marianne Oakes:
I suppose my take on it is in an ideal world, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because being trans would just be as ordinary as being Catholic. I don’t know, you know that we’ve got to remember that it’s just a facet of our identity. You know, I never get referenced as trans apart from the work that I do. You know, when I go into the house or, you know, my sons don’t say, Oh, this is my trans parent. Do you know? It’s just something that sits that, that I’m happy to be used as, and when it’s needed. But outside of that, that I’m still a parent that I’m still a musician. I’m still, you know, a valued member of my community. But when I go and see the doctor, then it’s really crucial that they know that I’m trans. Where young people are concern, I think, I feel it’s sad when we feel shame about our identity. And I think to answer your question, Helen, are they being stealth because they feel ashamed to be trans because of the narrative that is put out there? Or are they ashamed? You know, I know so many young people are ashamed of the privilege. You know, they realize not everybody was as lucky as them. And they feel that they, they need to kind of distance themselves cause they don’t want to be seen to be rubbing in other people’s nose in it. I think, you know, the idea that they, you know, are ashamed because they think nobody will love them, that they’ll never find the relationship. And I think that’s what we, you know, it’s a bigger subject than do I just go stealth. It’s the motivations behind that. And that kind of be proud of my identity. If we try to crush somebodies identity, it is damaging. And I think in that to answer your question, Helen, we’d be really careful that what are we doing, what the parents do and what are we doing as a society to allow that child to feel accepted for identity, not ashamed of it. And I think that that’s why I struggle with the conversation because I think it’s, you know, that’s going to be the next fight, I suppose. That’s going to be where the next battleground is led that we’ve got to be able to be, be able to be visible without fear, without prejudice, how we get that on.

Dr Helen Webberley:
And I think visibility, I don’t know if it’s visibility, but maybe acceptance and understanding for me is so Steph, when you introduce yourself today, hi, I’m Steph, I’m a trans woman. And then halfway through you say, you said well, I just transitioned because I’m a woman. And it’s like, okay, so now, which is it, are you a trans women or are you a woman. And it’s like, when are we as society going to allow permit complete a hundred percent acceptance and permission for women to say, I am a woman and then never needs to be the caveat that I am a trans woman, or I am a trans man, or I am a non-binary person. I am a woman and oh, by the way, I’m trans, if that needs to be added on at all. And, and I think for me, you know, that that will signify complete, and that’s a, society’s acceptance of people. You’re a woman. And then if you wanted to add, tell us about a bit of a pie chart that says you’re a trans woman as well, fine, whatever. And I think Marianne you’re right about, you’ve taught me that that’s about the stuff and the people who don’t want to be at all visible in their transgender identity. And it’s of course the important question is why isn’t it? What is behind the need to be stealth? And is it shame? Is it embarrassment? Is it the fear, whatever it is. I think, you know, as healthcare professionals (unclear 34:36) to understand that, isn’t it? As well as respect it.

Marianne Oakes:
Just to follow up from what you said there, Helen. And I do think I think we’ve had the conversation and, you know, I go into my doctor’s surgery, can I increase my oestrogen a little bit? And you know, I just feel that, you know, I need a bit more and I can kind of tell them my levels are right now. Right. You know, we’ll have to write off to the gender identity clinic and we’ll see what they say about, and Vicki walks in and says, you know, oh, just increase it. Yeah. Here’s another prescription, increase. And then tell my doctor can actually see me as a woman and not a trans woman, then I’m not sure. HRT, and you know, I don’t want to kind of get in a complexity of surgeries at this stage, but certainly from an HRT point, I’ve got the hormones, correct me if I’m wrong, Helen, you know, more than me. Well, I’ve got hormonal makeup of any other woman. So why would I not be treated with HRT, why can’t I have progesterone? You know, if I went in there, the doctors are going to meltdown. Yet Vicki gets it without hesitation because they see her as a woman. When we go for breast augmentation, oh you need to psychiatrist’s letter if you’re a trans woman. So I do think the healthcare you know the medical profession definitely has a big role to play in this. That if somebody comes in and they’re a woman, they’re a woman. They’ve got certain needs, but we don’t need to go into meltdown about it.

Dr Helen Webberley:
I think, Marianne, we’ve talked before, haven’t we about the kind of, what do we call it? The, I don’t know that the futuristic health image of what it’s going to be like one day in the future when, when we’ve got it all right. And it’s just such an exciting vision and we often talk about it. And so what we’re talking about now at the moment is if you’re lucky, you’re going to be allowed to have some estrogen, a low dose. Let’s keep you safe. That’s lucky. If you’re, if you push it a bit, we might give you some progesterone as well. But actually, if you asked me that now, correct me, if I’m wrong about the hormone profile, there are three very important hormones, at least that make up men and women and nonbinary people, or make us up as human, and they are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Those are our main sex hormones. And actually the next step would be Marianne is, is, do you know what I am a woman? And my estrogen isn’t quite high enough. I need a bit more, I need some progesterone because I feel I’m missing that. And actually, do you know what? I need a tiny bit of testosterone back because I’m not feeling great without it. And that is the future of excellence in transgender hormone replacement therapy to get the hormone profile right. Rather than just get your one pack of oestrogen, love. You know, don’t be asking any more because that’s beyond my capabilities. And so that’s futuristic healthcare, and that’s what we’ve got to aim for.

Marianne Oakes:
And interestingly enough, I said to the doctor, I said, you’re going to have to trust that I know, and I know that will be difficult for you. And he did give me the increase in the end, but it was a battle. And I convinced them not to write to the GIC, but then I’m in a strong position, your average trans girl’s not going to be able to do that. So yeah, I don’t know your experience, Steph, if you don’t mind me asking.

Steph May:
My experience in NHS cares is absolutely nothing at the moment. I’m still waiting though.

Dr Helen Webberley:
There was something about that. I’m still waiting,

Steph May:
But yeah, so I guess I I can’t really say too much on that other moment. I, I do have an appointment next month, my first one. So maybe I’ll have more of an opinion after that, but at the moment, I mean, I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been able to pay for treatment privately up to now, but yeah, I guess we’ll wait and see. I mean, I’ve heard stories of the, some of the hoops you have to jump through when you start going through the NHS process. I guess I’ll wait and see what my experience is like and, and what kind of questions I get asked and what sort of things they want from me. But yeah, I’m I’m looking forward to getting into the process, but I’m maybe not so looking forward to some of the stories I’ve heard, so I’ll wait and see.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Isn’t it, I mean, just those, just those words, you know, to see what they want from me, this really should be what, what you want from them, but yet we have to see it as what they want from you. Are you going to pass? Are you going to answer those questions correctly? Are you going to come across in the way that they expect you to? I really, really hope that your experience isn’t like that, Steph. And I hope you know, that things are changing in the arena. There’ll be interesting, perhaps we’ll get you back on after to see what your experience is like, but that’s, again, that’s future health care has got to change, hasn’t it? This is really, really, really not about what they want from you. This is what you need from them in order to be able to realize your identity and have the hormonal makeup that matches your identity. It’s so important. Steph, thank you for sharing your story with us today. We are very, very excited about promoting your single and especially on trans day of visibility. And we’re even more excited. I’m even more excited about the future where trans women don’t have to use the prefix trans because they are just women. And that’s, there is a proper representation across all walks of life, all parts of society, where everybody that makes up our beautifully diverse society is welcome and accepted. And by the way, she’s trans. So thank you so much for coming on. Really a pleasure to support you in your single, and I know Marianne and I will be listening and leaving the flag with pride. So thanks very much.

Steph May:
Thanks a lot for letting me come on. Thanks.

 

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