Hannah is the British Army’s highest-ranking transgender officer and Jake is a writer and director whose films about LGBTQ+ issues have won dozens of awards. Here the couple talk about being transgender, first dates and coming out to their parents…
Jake and Hannah Graf knew about each other long before they actually knew each other.
Understandable, since they’re two of the most visible members of the British trans community.
They were introduced by a mutual friend and, 10 days after Jake sent a Facebook friend request, they were on their first date.
In March, they got married, and - alongside their day jobs - are dedicated to spreading awareness of trans issues, particularly for young people who are struggling to adjust to being transgender.
ShortList caught up with the couple ahead of Pride Month to talk about trans visibility, labels, and spinning so many plates…
A lot of the conversation at the moment is around labels - avoiding the ones other people put on you and instead, defining yourself. It’s something that even companies like Harry’s are getting behind. How do you see yourselves?
JG: We’re transtastic yin and yang.
Which is which?
JG: I don’t think we’ve investigated that yet.
HG: We just know that we balance each other out, that’s the main thing.
Hannah, is it true that before Jake, you’d never been on a date before?
HG: Yeah. It was all quite scary for me at the time. For many years I thought, as a transgender person, that nobody would ever want to love me or be intimate with me.
When I finally felt the courage to explore my ability to date I found Jake, and apparently hit the jackpot first time.
JG: Which is great for me.
What motivated you to try?
HG: I was getting older and my friends were starting to settle down more, starting to have kids, have dogs, all those sorts of things that I’d always liked the idea of but I never thought I could have.
I just thought, “it’s either now or never”.
I thought I’d start with someone maybe transgender because they might understand me a little bit better.
Were you parents supportive when you came out?
JG: Incredibly so, we’ve both been really lucky. When I said, “I’ve always been a man and I’ve known that since I was about two or three years old,” literally the first thing my mother said was, “What are we going to do about it?”
She helped me with my hormones, helped me with my surgery.
That’s not the case with a lot of people. Hannah’s father, the first thing he said was, “At least it’s not something serious.”
When we got married, he made a little joke: “They say at a wedding you’re losing a daughter and gaining a son.”
Everyone got the humour.
We couldn’t have been luckier to have our parents there, proud and supportive, as well as our family and friends.
Hannah, what’s your role with the Army now?
HG: Aside from my day job as a British Army officer, I also have a role as a transgender representative, which means that I mentor and support other transgender members of the military but also give advice to policy makers to make sure they’re as inclusive an Army as they can be.
Does advocacy play a role in the the work you decide to create, Jake?
JG: When I’m writing my stories and when I’m writing my films and casting films, I want to give representation to characters that are rarely seen on screen.
I didn’t meet another trans guy until I was 25 and I didn’t really know that we existed.
That makes for a really lonely and isolating experience so for me it was really important to give visibility and representation.
Does being role models feel like a responsibility?
JG: I think it’s a huge honor and it’s a responsibility.
We support the charity Mermaid, which works with transgender children and their families and helps them to come out.
They do these weekend retreats where all the kids and their families can see other trans people and parents of trans kids can meet each other, and you realise just how important it is just to not feel alone.
To know that you’ve got support, to feel there’s nothing wrong with you, to feel you’ve done nothing wrong as a parent and to feel as a young trans child growing up, that you’ve done nothing to deserve any negativity or vitriol.
That you’re just trying to be yourself.
Keep exploring stories of identity in its truest, liveliest and most joyful form by visiting Harrys.com/pride.
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Harry’s is an official sponsor of Pride in London 2018.