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During Dr Helen Webberley’s hearing we’re bringing you Transitions, a new mini-series from the GenderGP podcast. GenderGP team member, Cleo Madeleine, will be joined by members of the community to talk about the journeys they have been on, the transitions they have been through and the moments that changed everything.

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The GenderGP Podcast

Transitions: Ezra

 

Cleo:
Hi there. My name’s Cleo Madeline from Gender GP, and I’m stepping in for Dr. Helen Webberley for a special new mini series of the Gender GP podcast. Over the next few weeks, we’ll hear firsthand accounts from members of the community, the journeys they’ve been on, the transitions they’ve been through and the moments that changed everything. Hi everybody. And welcome back to the Gender GP podcast. I’m Cleo Madeline and my pronouns are she/her. And with me in the studio today is Ezra. Ezra. Could you just talk to us a bit about who you are and what it is that you do?

Ezra:
Okay, cool. Hi, I’m Ezra. I’m a non-binary person and I’ve kind of like identified that way for, at this point, most of my life. So it is like a big part of who. I am, I work at Gender GP as well. I’m a pathway advisor and I work in the new patients division. So I work a lot with kind of like new people coming into the service and helping people like get started on their journey and stuff, which is really rewarding and really cool. Yeah. I’ve recently qualified as a barber, so I’m kind of currently working on that as well. I’ve just started working in that a bit more like professionally as well, and yeah, that’s also really rewarding and fulfilling.

Cleo:
Amazing. Fantastic. I’ve got so many questions just off the back of that. This is an interview with delight, I guess, first of all, working at Gender GP with new patients, there must be reward, but also quite challenging. You know, we, I think run a really important, good, amazing service, but also you in a perfect world, nobody would go for private healthcare. Right? So that you must also find that there are people who come to the service who have had a bad time. Right?

Ezra:
Absolutely. I mean, it’s difficult because it’s something I’ve said since I started said working at the company. And since I started my specific role is I realized very quickly that if the NHS was functioning properly and doing what they were supposed to be doing, that I wouldn’t really have a job. And honestly I’d be okay with it because if people were accessing the care that they need in the way that they should be able to, yeah, there’d be no need for Gender GP. And I really, I think everyone at Gender GP can like, would agree when they say like, we’d be okay with that. That’s in an ideal world. That’s what would happen. Um, but we’re not quite in an ideal world. And as such, you know, there is a need for the service that we provide. And a lot of patients that kind of a lot of, uh, forms and stuff that I processed. And a lot of stories that I see are not particularly happy ones. Like people who’ve tried accessing the NHS or who’ve kind of been strung along for a few years. And then at the last second been told, actually we’re not gonna do anything to help people who kind of feel that they’ve been looking for help and they didn’t know where to look anymore. And they’ve kind of finally found like someone who can help and you do see a lot of hope. And a lot of, I really think this is gonna be the big change for me. You know, it, it is rewarding to be on the other end of that. And to be like, yeah, it’s okay, we’ve got you from here. Like, we’re, we’re gonna be able to sort this out, but it is really difficult to a lot of times kind of what they’ve gone through to get to that point. Yeah.

Cleo:
It’s a challenge that I often find in my own role, you know, where do you draw the line between your job role in trans healthcare and your personal life as a trans person? Cause I get so on the one hand, you are always bringing that bit of yourself into your work in a way that, and we, you know, we have cis colleagues and they are amazing and they’re just as good at their jobs. It’s just, there’s a sense in which you kind of bring that experience into your work because you’re thinking this is someone who is like me, and this is a challenge that I’ve been through on the other hand, you know, sometimes I wake up on Monday morning and I’m like, oh, I don’t want to <laugh> I don’t want to live the challenge

Ezra:
Today. Yeah, no, absolutely Cleo that’s and I think that’s the thing, that’s a difficult thing. A lot of the times is I’ll be reading, um, stories and I’ll be like, oh my gosh, that’s so difficult. Look, I can’t believe they’ve gone through that. And then we’ll kind of have a second of like, oh no, wait, that’s me. That that’s me as well. Yeah. And it, it really is difficult. Like when you see yourself, um, in like patients who felt had such a hard time, but yeah, no, absolutely. That is like an aspect you bring with you to your job like that. And it’s, I mean, it’s definitely something that makes me kind of like advocate quite hard for patients and like kind of push to get them like the right treatment and stuff, because it’s so personal to me, like I’ll, I’ll read files and I’m like, that could be me. That could be any of my friends that could be, you know, like it makes you feel like connected on like a, with all respect in a way that I don’t think our cis colleagues feel quite so strongly. You know, I think there’s a sense of everyone feels like good about what we’re doing and, and understands the need for what we do. But yeah, I think for those of us who are trans, who, who work in this job, there’s a certain personal element to it. I’d absolutely agree

Cleo:
With that. You think if this was the other way round, I would want you to do the same for me and there’s that. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I suppose that’s what we mean when we talk about air quotes, the community. What we really mean is this group of people who we don’t know, but with whom we share an implicit connection

Ezra:
mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah, absolutely.

Cleo:
So on the note of community, you mentioned that you work at a queer barbers. That is, I suppose, the shared bonds of community, a far cry from Gender GP. How did that come about?

Ezra:
So, I mean, working in barbering is something that I’ve wanted to do for quite a few years now. Um, it’s, it’s kind of been a bit of a, on the back burner kind of goal, you know, kind of something that I’ve felt like, oh, I need to like save up for that for a little bit, but it’s been like my long term goal for quite a while. Specifically. I really want to still in the further future now is to open up my own barber shop and to kind of run my own queer inclusive barber shop. I mean, it really comes from LA, like I’ve had short hair for nearly 10 years now. And in that time two barbers cut my hair. And one of them was a friend of mine who was also a barber. There is a consistent lack of barbers who are like willing to cut queer people’s hair, cut, like people that they think are women’s hair and it’s as a queer person, or like as a woman, not to feel othered and not to feel that difficulty and like really take it personally. So yeah, it’s something I wanted to do for a while is to kind of create a, just a safe and inclusive space like that. It feels like such a basic thing, but I just think everyone deserves to have a place like that. And everyone deserves to feel about themselves and about like their appearance. That’s such a big part. It’s really important to me that these spaces exist. so, yeah, that’s one of the reasons I’ve, um, wanted to go into barbering for a little while I’ve been kind of studying that for the past few months and then, um, yeah, just recently almost fresh out of college, got this job. It’s a barber shop. That’s in the, the base of a salon, both the places it’s kind of like two halves of the same business. And both of them are super inclusive, super queer friendly. Most of the people who work there are queer. It’s just like a really cool environment, like super accepting and stuff, and was something that I was worried. I wouldn’t be able to find in the industry. I’m so glad. And I’m so grateful that it’s like the first place I’ve kind of found. And yeah, I feel like I can really work here quite consistently. You know,

Cleo:
That’s amazing. That’s fantastic to hear. I really wanna pick up on what you said about how kind of shocking it is that this sort of service isn’t more widely available. Yeah. Because like how you cut your hair or how you wear your hair is like a huge signifier of your identity.

Ezra:
Hugely. Yeah.

Cleo:
You know, it’s something that expresses your culture. It’s something that expresses your gender expression. It’s something that expresses your, you know, even your like aesthetic and social sense of belonging, whether you are a, a punk or ah, a prep or, or, or whatever, you know.

Ezra:
Absolutely. Yeah, no, it’s such a core part of like so many people’s self expression really. It’s such like easily changeable feature. I mean, like, I, I have a different haircut or hairstyle aisle every, every like 10 minutes, honestly. Like I have no consistency with it. That’s what’s consistent for me. Yeah. No, it’s, it’s insane that that’s such a like kind of difficult environment to find for a lot of people, but it’s considered quite niche really to cater, to queer people and to just have like a deliberately inclusive environment. It’s wild.

Cleo:
It’s also something I’m like, I get like low key FOMO about because I like yourself. And, and I do wanna come back to this, came out the womb wrapped in a pride flag and I’ve just been mucking about in that way ever since, but I’ve always also kind of been a bit high fam high maintenance in my gender expression. And part of that is the hair. So like I’ve got an undercut, I’ve got quite a dramatic undercut really, but sometimes, you know, like when re for instance will go out and get a fade and I’ll see it and be like, oh, that is really tight. I personally, that wouldn’t be a good fit for me, but I am also just like, oh, just once I’d like to get that like super trim lineup, You know?

Ezra:
Yeah. I’m the same, just like with long hair and stuff. I had long hair for years and years, but it made me so unhappy and so unable to express myself that I just felt absolute relief when I got rid of it. I, but I’ll see like certain hairstyles now with like really long hair and I’m like, oh, should I do it? Should I grow my hair out? Like, that would be so fun, but I know that it’s not actually what I want. I’m just like, oh, that looks cool. I think I’m happier. Just like, kind of putting that on other people and being like, yep. That looks really good on other people. I think, I think I understand that it’s, it’s not for me anymore.

Cleo:
That’s A great illustrate of the difference between gender identity and gender presentation. Right. Isn’t it. <laugh> absolutely. <laugh>. So I wanted to pick up on, you said that you’ve been, I mean, obviously I’ve been a trans woman all my life. You’ve been a non-binary person all your life, but that you’ve thought of your yourself that way for most of your life. I was also a person who kind of figured it out quite early, but didn’t really have the vocabulary to talk about it. And I wondered if there was a similar experience for you.

Ezra:
Yeah. I mean, I remember from, from a super young age, being very aware of myself, and of my gender in a way that I got the impression, the other kids around me weren’t and I was right. <laugh> yeah, no, I remember from a super young age, knowing that for a start, that I was not a girl. And also that I absolutely could not say that or say anything about that to my family and, uh, the majority of my peers. And I mean, to be honest, it was only when I was about 14, somewhere between 14 and 16, it’s all, uh, that whole, period’s all a bit blurry somewhere around there between kind of like maturing and understanding myself better and also Tumblr and the kind of the new language and stuff that everyone kind of picked up from there, you know, kind of vocabulary online community. That kind of thing really enabled me to not just find like the language to describe myself and to help to understand myself better, but also found like other people who were also kind of like me to connect with. And I think that was a big turning point for me, was finding out that I was not, you know, kind of the only person in the entire world. I mean, honestly, without the internet at that age, I, I still don’t think I would’ve known how openly queer I could be, but how many other queer people were out there? I grew up in a very conservative area, quite conservative family. And there’s been a lot of back and forth over the years, but I’d say we’ve come to a much better point of understanding than I ever really could’ve expected from them. And I’m always like really proud of them for how much they’ve chosen to grow with me and to like understand me and my partner and my style and my friends and, you know, we don’t agree on everything and, and that’s okay. But yeah, I know that they support me in a way that I really wouldn’t have expected when I was, when I was younger.

Cleo:
That’s so beautiful to hear I’m genuinely quite, quite choked up. No, you, you, I mean, you love to see it. I, I know that feeling as well. You always love to see it when, you know, a queer person’s family are proud of them, but sometimes yeah, you can be proud of them in return for kind of meeting you halfway. Me and my sister are two out of five siblings and I’m the eldest and she he’s the youngest. And we are both the kind of queer rogues of the family, but God bless them. The rest of them have made an effort to get on our level.

Ezra:
Oh, that’s so Good. Yeah. You really do love to see like families kind of growing and changing to love their kids the best way that they can and to just support their queer kids the best way that they can.

Cleo:
Exactly. Cis heterosexual people stay winning <laugh>. So this brings us pretty nicely to the crux of the podcast in this transition series, we’ve been talking to all sorts of people from the queer community about a moment that changed everything for them. And I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got to say.

Ezra:
Well, I mean, sorry, is that like a moment like at Gender GP or just like in general, like in

Cleo:
No, no, it can be anything. And this is the sticking point for this. <laugh> when we came up with this podcast, I might actually leave this in the recording because I it’s important. When we came up with this podcast, we were like brainstorming ideas back and forth as we do in the communications team. We, what we wanted to do was make something that would be queer people talking to each other. It would be good news. It would be like warm, friendly, not necessarily like too specialist. And we were trying to think of a theme that would draw it together. And I was like, well, what if we get people on to talk about the moment that changed things for them? And we were like, oh yeah, this is brilliant. This is amazing. Turns out. It’s a great idea on paper. It’s bloody impossible to actually <laugh> articulate.

Ezra:
I can’t lie. It’s a bit vague. Yeah. <laugh>

Cleo:
Uhm- <laugh>. And I suppose the problem is that it’s bound up in this idea of, you know, identity being characterized by realizations or revelations. And that has kind of been represented, We’ve had people talk about whole chapters of their lives or others have talked about single events and some things have been like something that was a little nudge on the journey that we’re all on. And others have just been huge hairpin turns. I guess what we are really interested in and the answer can also be that they’re just, isn’t one is on your journey, both within your identity, but also just in the general pathway that has come to whoever is today and who they go on to be. Has there been anything in particular that stood out to you as a turning point or an important event or

Ezra:
It would be? Yeah, so I guess like about a week ago, I was just kind of sat around doing some like self reflection on like where I’ve been and where I am and where I’m going. And whenever things are going really good for me, I kind of look back at the young queer kid that I was and that I am, and that I always will, who really felt quite, felt very alone in the world. And I couldn’t tell anyone in my family about being queer. I knew without saying it that I couldn’t. And then later I knew after saying it that I still couldn’t for most of my childhood, I would say I felt quite alone. And I kind of had this reflection point last week that you know, this closeted little queer kid at, at a single sex, private Catholic school who was really not flourishing is now openly presenting. However I want to, I’m married. All my friends are queer. I’m surrounded by so much love. I work in two jobs, both very queer positive, where I openly present as, as just myself and, and in both of these jobs, I actively encourage other people to do the same. And it’s such a far cry from who I used to be and who I ever thought I could become. I guess that’s the moment is that I kind of realized that everything had changed and a lot had stayed the same. I’m still just like a young queer kid trying to like figure stuff out. I, you know, I don’t have the answers anymore than I had then, but I’m very much not alone anymore. And I’m very open and loud about who I am in a way that I really never thought I’d be able to be.

Cleo:
That Is beautiful. That has warmed my heart so much. <laugh> oh, I think it’s a wonderful thing to put out there into the world because you know, people listen to this podcast and there will be people who have the same story and the same moment of reflection about the, you know, lost little queer kid that they were, there will also be people who are the little queer kid. Yeah. And I think that’s where the ability to tell this kind of story is so important because just you being able to say that you are in this place of contentment and, you know, sorted outness is gonna make a huge difference for someone else. So is thank you so much for sharing that.

Ezra:
I really Hope it does. I mean, it was something that kind of got banded about a lot when I was like young and struggling and stuff was like older people. Like it gets better and I’d be there, like not for everyone, but it really does get a lot better.

Cleo:
Yeah. One of the great pangs of youth is the difficulty in being able to see point when you aren’t the creature you are right now. And I suppose one of the great trials of getting older is seeing young people doing the things that you were doing, and <laugh> knowing that it’s gonna be so hard to reach them because you remember what it was like.

Ezra:
Yeah, Absolutely.

Cleo:
I think that people will listen to this and I think it’ll like a real impact. Oh, I hope so. Um, this about fills up the time that we’ve got. Is there anything else that you’d like to add while we’re on the air?

Ezra:
I don’t think so. No. I mean, it’s, it’s been lovely chatting to you. It’s been, been really

Cleo:
Lovely. No, it’s been so nice to talk to you. And honestly, when we first set up before we started recording and you were saying, you know, you not done this before. I’m almost always more confident when someone says that, because what the best thing about this podcast has been is just talking to other people at the company in the community, hearing their stories, and everyone has brought something different. And every time I go away with just that, the biggest cheesy smile plastered across my face. It’s absolutely fantastic. And I’m so glad that you’ve been able to come and share with us today.

Ezra:
Thank you. I’m really glad. I’ve kind of like chosen to cause I was very anxious and very like, should I, but I’m, I’m really glad I have. Thank you.

Cleo:
Thank you so much for listening. If you’d like to find out more about Gender GP or the kinds of services that they can offer, then you can go to our website, which is www.gendergp.com. Or if you’ve got your own story to share or a suggestion for a future podcast, then you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, @GenderGP, please do get in touch.