Guest Interview with Nate Ethan Watson
We interviewed Nate Ethan Watson, the UK’s first openly transgender rapper, about his experiences since coming out and how he his using his platform as a musician to support other young trans people:
GGP: What has the general response been, since you went public with your transition?
NEW: The response has been a lot better than I had expected, in all honesty. I had this idea that if I was to come out and say “I’m transgender” there would be a big backlash. I prepared myself mentally and made sure I felt strong enough to deal with a negative response but, surprisingly, I have had a lot of support both from people close to me and people on social media.
GGP: That took a huge amount of courage, and you admit to being worried that it might affect other artists’ desire to work with you. Has that been the case?
NEW: To be honest I haven’t really noticed if it has been the case as I have been working with a lot of new producers on new and different sounds, something I have always tried to do. If anything, I feel like transitioning and being so open about it, has actually been a positive in that respect.
I can imagine some will choose not to work with me, because I am trans, but I also imagine they’re not the sort of people I would want to work with – so would be a mutual thing! All in all, the people I have previously worked with, I am still in contact with and will potentially work with again. Right now, I am happy to be working on music I enjoy and being able to write completely as myself, rather than the persona that was expected of me.
GGP: What advice would you give to some of our younger readers about your experiences?
NEW: Always be true to yourself and be confident in who you are. When you are at peace with yourself, you will be less concerned about what other people think or feel about you. Don’t be discouraged from being who you know you are and who you want to be. It’s so easy now to compare yourself to others when you are transitioning, especially with the images we see on social media, but everybody’s journey is different. You will get there, it just takes time and a lot of patience.
GGP: What would you say to other artists in your position who are afraid to come out?
NEW: I would say don’t feel pressured to come out, for some people it’s not safe and some people simply do not want to come out. But if it’s a case of wanting to and being afraid, I would say it’s easier to take the step with the support of like-minded people.
Joining facebook groups is a good way I found because you are able to talk to people about their own experiences and there’s a huge amount of comfort in that. It’s also hugely comforting to have the support of the group to ask advice, as and when you need it.
GGP: What key piece of advice would you give your 13 year old self?
NEW: I would tell myself to keep going and start learning how to deal with patience and frustration from now, because things will get better but that’s not to say they are going to be quick and easy. I would remind myself that I am built to take on the challenges I will face later on and to stay strong through them, as they will lead to greater things.
GGP: You talk openly about the challenges you faced getting access to medical care. How do you feel doctors could better support trans patients?
NEW: Medical care is about improving someone’s life and doctors should be committed to delivering the same quality of care, whoever the patient might be. Doctors could better support trans people by treating us the same as they would any other patient and following the same values when providing that care – which does not always happen.
Trans people experience many detrimental health issues and sometimes this can be exacerbated by discrimination and transphobia coming from their medical provider. I do think this is changing for the better, and many people are aiding with the changes, but we still have a long way to go.
GGP: What’s next on your journey, as both a rapper and a campaigner for trans rights?
NEW: Music is something I always have and always will be passionate about, so it will always be a part of my life. However, since transitioning, I have naturally become an activist and a campaigner for trans rights. As part of this, I facilitate trans awareness workshops around the UK, which enables me to use some of the learning from my degree in public health.
My experiences, together with the barriers and issues I have faced, have given me a unique insight and I want to continue to use my influence to help bring about positive change for other transgender people.
Since transitioning, I have realised I am not alone and I am lucky to have a great support network, but I am very aware that this is not the case for many young trans people. If I can be out there and spread some positivity through my journey and in some way that helps, it will always be hugely rewarding for me.
There are many of us out there that are passionate about creating more awareness by sharing our stories and I have faith that, together, we will create a better world for younger transgender people.