Trans parents Hannah and Jake Graf explain why they’re not raising their kids gender neutral
Trans parents Hannah and Jake Graf have opened up about the challenges of parenthood and why they aren’t raising their kids gender neutral.
The Grafs are arguably the most famous trans parents in the UK after they welcomed their adorable daughter, Millie, to their family in April 2020. The beautiful couple announced in January that they were expecting a second child via surrogate.
Just a few days ago, right after midnight on 1 June, they finally welcomed their new daughter into the world. Honestly, it’s a very exciting time as they encounter all the challenges that come along with having two young children in a family.
They said they’re very up for anything that could be thrown their way in chat with trans and genderqueer artist Az Franco as part of PinkNews’ Pride for All virtual celebrations.
Jake, an actor and screenwriter, admitted that he’s a bit “terrified” as the couple doesn’t know what to expect. He described how everyone they’ve chatted with has warned that the parents are “never gonna know exhaustion like it” and that their world is “gonna be blown apart” raising two small children at once.
“It’s that weird kind of situation where all you want is someone to just say, ‘It’s gonna OK, don’t worry,’ and everyone at the moment is kind of being very like, ‘Wow, just want until it hits you,’” Jake said.
Jake added that Millie is a bit “nervous” and “jittery” as she’s “not quite sure what to expect” in her new role as a big sister.
Hannah, formerly the highest-ranking trans officer in the British Army, shared that she’s “much more confident” about their newborn as she was more concerned about how Millie is going to “cope” with not being an only child any more.
“She’ll be fine,” Hannah said. “I mean she’s not the first kid to have a sibling.”
She added that the two-year-old is “very caring” and even helps out other kids at nursery who lost their toys, making sure they’re reunited with their cherished items.
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Jake and Hannah Graf added that they had both planned to have a family, even before they’d met each other. Jake shared that he – like many trans people – had to confront some preconceived ideas that trans people aren’t “worthy” of certain things like falling in love or having kids one day.
“It’s weird because obviously as a trans person, I think a lot of us are kind of conditioned to believe that we’re not worthy, that we’re not deserving of love or family or marriage or to be a parent,” he said.
He continued: “I think those are things that you’re kind of taught are for sort of ‘normal’ people and those who are worthy and sort of deserving.
“And all my life, I saw my friends have kids, and I saw my sister have kids. Obviously all around you, people are having kids all the time.
“I just never thought I was going to be lucky enough to be a parent.”
Jake shared that marriage and having kids was one of the first things he discussed when he met Hannah.
“To Hannah’s huge credit, she didn’t run screaming, and we kept talking and here we are now six years down the line,” Jake said.
Hannah said she “got used to the idea” of never having a relationship or family before she met Jake. She described how her eyes were “suddenly opened to a possibility” of what her future could be like, and it was “quite amazing” to think about all the wonderful moments in her life since.
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Later in the interview, Franco questioned Jake and Hannah Graf about how raising Millie in an environment without boundaries or the tired expectations of the gender binary will have on her.
Hannah explained that the couple have had a lot of support from loved ones and even thought society is “getting better” as there are “just probably less restrictions” and “less boxes for kids to live in” now.
She added that the couple have also been frequently asked about why they aren’t raising Millie as gender neutral, and she said they were more concerned with affirming who Millie is.
“For us, the probability is that she will be a girl – that’s the probability so that’s how we’re starting it,” Hannah said. “But at any point, if she tells us otherwise or she wants to explore her identity in any different way, then we’ll be there for her.”
She continued: “And we really hope that will give her a sense of real security and a real freedom to work out who she is, which means when she’s getting to her sort of slightly older years as a teenager and then as a young adult that she can really be the best version of herself and she can unlock all the potential that she holds and that’s what we’re hoping for.
“I’m sure there will be some challenges along the way. There are for every single parent, but yeah, we’ll be there and do our very best.”
Jake added they were just going to let Millie discover who she is and certainly won’t “put any of our gender feelings or issues or whatever you want to call them” on her.
“We want her to be totally free to be herself and live her life and love who she wants to and be who she wants to and play with who she wants to,” Jake said.
The in-depth conversation with Jake and Hannah Graf is part of PinkNews jam-packed line-up for Pride for All, an entirely digital celebration of the global LGBTQ+ community.
The amazing event runs from Tuesday 7 June to Thursday 9 June, and this year’s theme is “solidarity”.
Several of the UK’s biggest queer cultural figures, allies, activists and icons kicked off the celebrations with beautiful messages of support and love for the LGBTQ+ community. This included Heartstopper’s Joe Locke, singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé and British TV legend Lorraine Kelly.
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On 8 June, PinkNews will be hosting a discussion with Peter Tatchell to mark 50 years of Pride. The discussion will focus on the ways Pride has changed and evolved in that time.
Finally, Spencer Cooper and Mufseen Miah will host a discussion about why queer joy should take centre stage more often on 9 June. That same day, Rosie Pendlebaby and Ruby Rare will lead an online life drawing class that encourages people to love and adore their own bodies.
You can see the full Pride for All line-up here.