Josephine 00:00:04:

Hi, I’m Josephine Hughes. I’m the mother of two transgender daughters who came out in their teens and early twenties. The personal is political when I first came across feminist arguments during my sociology degree, I knew my life had changed forever, and I would always view society through through a different lens. Since then, I’ve experienced a very personal change when my children came out as transgender. But increasingly, what was personal has become politicised. During my recording of the third series of gloriously unready transgender issues have never been far away from the news. Sadly, identity politics are being used as a political football with no real consideration of the impact on transgender people and their families. So in gloriously unready series three, I want to give people a voice to express their love for their transgender children and their transgender partners. Yet the podcast cannot exist in isolation from the political situation, and all my guests describe how they are affected.

What I hope from this podcast series is to share that transgender people and their families are just human, just like the rest of us, and worthy of love and support. In this episode, I’m chatting with Anna Hayward, a counsellor, colleague and friend. I’ve invited her on the show because not only does she have gender non conforming children, she also knows a lot about the intersection between neurodivergence, such as autism and adhd, and being LGBTQ. Anna herself is a gay woman and was diagnosed as autistic about 20 years ago. She now has a specialist counselling practice supporting neurodivergent, gay, and gender non conforming clients. 

We had a few technical problems with this episode, and Anna’s audio isn’t as good as it would normally be, so if you’re listening in the car or somewhere noisy, you might miss parts. Your best bet is to listen to this episode when you’ve got a quiet time and place to do so. There are some real gems in this chat, and I don’t want you missing out. There is, of course, a transcription, as with all the episodes that you can follow along with, too, if that helps. I began the conversation by asking Anna to introduce herself.

Anna Hayward 00:02:55:

I’ve had a variety of careers. I’ve trained as a nurse, that didn’t work out. A lot of my careers didn’t work out very well, so some people feel like, you know, how have you managed to have that many careers in that short time? It’s even worse than that because I spent 22 years at home raising my disabled kids. So a few years ago, I was looking around for a career that I could do that would fit around my caring needs. And I decided, I went on a short course to see what counselling was like at the local college, and I just got bitten by the bug. I thought, wow, this is amazing.

Josephine 00:03:35:

And you specialise particularly in working with neurodivergent people, don’t you?

Anna Hayward 00:03:38:


Josephine 00:03:39:

Autistic ADHD, that sort of thing.

Anna Hayward 00:03:43:

Yeah, yeah. Those are principal diagnosis, autistic ADHD. I found it very difficult as an autistic person in counselling training. Counselling training is really not designed for autistic people. I began to think, well, hang on, if I’m struggling to cope in a counselling training course, what about all the other people out there who are neurodivergent trying to live lives in a neurotypical, as we call, aka normal people in a neurotypical world? You know how it must be very difficult for a lot of people. And I started to think at a conference, national autistic society conference a few years ago. I was a student at the time, a trainee, and I was asked, what do you want to do? And I said, well, my dream job is I want to be a specialist counsellor to autistic and ADHD people. And as the saying goes, we all laughed because that was a ridiculous idea because there was nobody doing it. At the conference there was a couple of people who were involved in mental health and autism and they were saying, there weren’t therapists, there weren’t psychologists, they weren’t people who were openly autistic or ADHD around to refer people to. It just didn’t exist, so. And then a few years later, that.

Josephine 00:05:11:

Is exactly what you’re doing.

Anna Hayward 00:05:12:


Josephine 00:05:13:

And I think.

Anna Hayward 00:05:14:

And I’m not the only one that’s that.

Josephine 00:05:16:

And I think more and more people are finding out later on in life that they’re ADHD or autistic.

Anna Hayward 00:05:21:

Yeah, but it’s not just that people are finding out they’re autistic, it’s that people are becoming more confident to actually say to colleges and training places, I’m an autistic person, or I’ve got ADHD, you need to give me some combinations.

Josephine 00:05:39:

Or whatever people might be thinking, what’s this got to do with transgender children? Yeah, but there’s this enormous overlap, isn’t there, between neurodivergence and the lgbt community. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Anna Hayward 00:05:55:

Yeah. For some reason that we don’t really know, I started noticing it. I was diagnosed in 2000, it turns out, and I noticed this from early, early days, that a lot of the people I was meeting in the autism community, and I’ll just say autism community for now because the ADHD came along later, were trans or genderqueer or gender variant in some way, or identified as male, but cross dressed. A friend of mine set up a support group for trans people in Cambridge quite a few years ago. And because I, one of my many careers, I’ve been a techie, I offered to help her. We set up a YouTube group and a website.

People don’t even remember what YouTube groups were, but anyway, we will be very innovative. And she represented an organisation called Women of Beaumont Society.

Josephine 00:06:53:

Beaumont Society. It’s sort of like one of the first societies that supported transgender people. Is that right?

Anna Hayward 00:06:59:

Yeah, yeah. It started in Edwardian times. And it was named after some lord who was famous for cross dressing. And they used to have afternoon teas. It was very twee, very, very middle class, and they used to meet in hotels. Initially, when we started the group, most of the people identified as cross dressers or even used the word that you’re not allowed to use, they used to refer to themselves as transvestites.

So this group started, but increasingly we started to get what you might call your actual trans people coming to the meeting. These are people who were full time in their preferred gender. So we had to change a bit. The organisation has changed a lot and since I’ve kind of recused myself since I’ve become a counsellor, because I’m working in this population and, you know, you can’t let the streams cross, you know, in counselling.

Josephine 00:07:52:

You have to sort of have boundaries between you and people.

Anna Hayward 00:07:56:

Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to say. Yeah. And now what my friend tells me is that a lot of the members are non-binary. So that sort of, it’s changed over the years from being a support group for casual crossdressers to being trans and non binary. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Josephine 00:08:15:

It’s really interesting, isn’t it? And then, of course, it’s had an impact on your own personal life as well, hasn’t it? Because.

Anna Hayward 00:08:21:

Well, yeah, I mean, I got involved in that because I’ve got several members of the family who are trans and non binary. A couple of people in the family have transitioned from one gender to another full medical transition and everything. So I got interested also, you know, the friends I had, you know, asking me to help, and I became educated about the struggles of people like that. And little did I know that a few years ago, my. My teenage son came out to me as non binary. He still uses he/him. He hasn’t sort of medically transitioned in any way, although he says that’s not out of the running. But he does present as feminine.

Yeah. And then a couple of years ago, my eldest also came out as non binary and uses they them pronouns. And. Yeah, because I know when I spoke.

Josephine 00:09:27:

Because I know when I spoke to Sam Hope for the gloriously unready, they came onto the podcast for the last series, and they said that they kept their autistic identity quiet when they went for their gender clinic because they were concerned that if they said they were autistic, that would mean even more gatekeeping against.

Anna Hayward 00:09:57:

Absolutely. And in the US, where they’re trying to stop gender affirming treatment in total, one of the arguments in a lot of these bills that’s been put forward by some of these right wing lobbyists is to say that a lot of people are autistic, and autistic people don’t know their own identity. So implying that autistic people are, they say autistic people are easily led. We’re very gullible. We get sucked into, you know, and some of that is true. I asked a doctor from Charing Cross hospital, gender psychiatrist of many, many years standing, and I asked him about, you know, like, how he dealt with autistic people presenting. And he said, in general, autistic people often need more time to transition.

They need more. They need to be allowed to get used to ideas and concepts so that everything needs to be. But, I mean, he was talking about it in an ideal world where people get care not in, not by the time they’re 40, not. You know what I’m trying to say, that we’re in a. In a world where people don’t have to wait 20 years for treatment. So when he said slow it down, he didn’t mean slow it down 40 years. He was talking about in a sensible time frame. Like, I think,

I think the NICE guidelines are, like, within three years or something. So if that was the case, then maybe three years for a neurotypical person, maybe four years for the autistic person.

Josephine 00:11:28:

It sort of sounds like, in a way, because you’d had such a lot of connection to the trans community when your kids came out, was it almost like you thought it was expected, or was it unexpected? What were your sort of.

Anna Hayward 00:11:52:

No, completely out of left field. Yeah. Even though I was becoming increasingly aware. I kind of skipped over this, but I became increasingly aware that there was a huge overlap between autism and trans non binary identities that, I mean, there’s some theories going about, but a lot of people think that neurodivergent people have a different understanding of gender. We experience it in a different way. So even though I would say I’m cisgender, I’m quite happy being a woman in a woman’s body, you know, I’m quite happy with that. I still think, in a subtle way, that I don’t quite fit my gender quite as not 100%. It’s like 95%, if you know what I mean.

And I certainly, you know, I’m not into the gender roles at all. So. So if I talk about my son, who was the first one to come out as non binary, he’s quite significantly autistic. He has complex needs, so he has language difficulties and whatever. So I think from very, very early on, he didn’t conform to gender stereotypes at all. He loved the flower fairy books, so he couldn’t read, so we had to read them out to him. So I’ve read all the flowers, and there’s a lot. There’s a lot of flower fairy books.

Josephine 00:13:08:

You’ve probably read them a lot of times.

Anna Hayward 00:11:27:

A lot. Yeah. Well, actually, you can’t really, because there’s so many. They’re all the same story. All the same story. But, you know, he loved that every Christmas he would get a kittens calendar because he loves kittens, and he never seemed to understand that other little boys didn’t like playing with kittens and dolls and fairies and pretty things. He loved a power puff girl.

Josephine 00:13:38:

Yeah, it’s really interesting, isn’t it? So there’s what we would say with this archetypal sort of feminine girls type thing.

Anna Hayward 00:13:45:

Yeah, yeah. And he loved pink and flowery things. So because he was in special schools and, you know, like, when he first went to school, he refused to wear school uniform and would only go to school. He’d be as dressed as Mike from Monsters Inc, you know, the giant eyeball. I do remember him wearing a giant eyeball and looking in a full length mirror and then crying and saying, I look fat. You’re wearing a giant eyeball costume. So, yeah, so he would only go to school dressed as a giant eyeball. And fortunately, the special school that he went to were very, very accommodating and said to us, look, you know, just send him in the giant eyeball with a bag and we’ll try and persuade him into jogging pants and a sweatshirt, if nothing else.

Yeah. And gradually move towards traditional clothing. But he was always a nightmare to dress. So many clothes I bought over the years that he never wore and gave him to the charity shop with a tag still on them. I bought him all the boys toys. I bought the toy garage and the toy railway, and they were left unplayed. But we put this all down to his autism. He is an eccentric character.

Josephine 00:15:01:

Yeah. So he sort of thought, oh, that’s just the way he is, you know, he.

Anna Hayward 00:15:05:

Yeah. Being a same sex parent, of course, we were kind of out of the mainstream already, although in a way, we’ve lived a very conventional life because I was at home with the kids and she went to work. So apart from the gender, we’re very, very stereotypical. But even so, we were a bit different to the other families for obvious reasons. So I kind of thought, well, he’s just a bit eccentric, you know, and then sort of out of nowhere, apparently, must have been he was a bit older than I thought. He was 15.

He might have started talking about gender when he was about 15, but the crunch. He must have been at college. He just started college. He started cross dressing. And of course, with my background, I was like, okay, fair enough, knock yourself out. It’s not a problem. I didn’t sort of think, oh, he might be trans or anything like that, because I just thought, you know, this is just the latest variation on dressing as Mike from Monsters, Inc. You know, and he does like unconventional feminine clothing.

Anna Hayward 00:16:15:

So he’s very into Japanese gaming.

Josephine 00:16:19:

Oh, yes. The sort of manga and that sort of stuff, so anime .

Anna Hayward 00:16:43:

The long socks and the little skirts.

Josephine 00:16:26:

My oldest is the same. Yeah. Got a particular character, and it was dressing as that particular character that sort of helped her to know that that was what she felt, that she was a woman.

Anna Hayward 00:16:38:

Yeah. So I actually. Then he basically said that he didn’t want to wear boy’s clothes anymore. He was going to wear female clothes. I didn’t have any prejudice at all in my head at all, but I was worried because he’s vulnerable and, you know, trans hatred at the moment is horrendous. And I was frightened for him. I was really frightened.

I thought, he’s not only crossdressing, he’s very tall, and he wears very unconventional feminine clothing. He’s going to be a target. And we had a bit of a row about it and he got really upset and accused me of transphobia. And I tried to explain, but because he’s autistic, he doesn’t necessarily understand how the world works. Really? Yeah. I talked to my wife, and we concluded that the only way that we could go on with this was basically to support him. We couldn’t be saying to him, you can’t be yourself because somebody might attack you.

Because, you know, as lesbians, they could say that to us. You know, I came out, you know, later in life, and I spent a lot of many years hiding my true identity, and I know just how destructive that was and how damaging that was to my mental health, you know, so with autism and being gay, you’ve got the double whammy. The autism, we talk about masking. So trying to cover up your autism symptoms and then as a gay woman, covering up my sexuality. And so coming out as gay really helped, because then I felt that was a bit of it I didn’t have to pretend and hide. Although I was, you know, I did get some homophobia from people. I remember my boss is in one of my voluntary jobs telling me that I shouldn’t keep talking about my girlfriend because it would. Other people would be distressed or, you know, it was none of their business that I had a girlfriend, even though, of course, all the other volunteers talked about their husbands and their boyfriends with impunity, and nobody thought anything of it.

So I’d already gone through that experience myself, and that was the last thing in the world I wanted for my son. I didn’t want him to feel that his identity, either as an autistic person or a non conforming gender, was wrong somehow, that he needed to be covered up so that he was acceptable. And I do remember sort of like the first time that we went out with him in his, basically a french maid’s outfit. We went for a pub lunch with one of the grandmas, and her eyes widened a little bit. She rallied, and she just behaved like everything was completely fine. Yeah. So it’s not been easy because. And it’s not that I have any problem with his unusual gender identity myself. It’s purely fear of what’s going to happen to him.

Josephine 00:19:48:

I absolutely get that.

Anna Hayward 00:19:49:

Yeah. Yeah.

Josephine 00:19:51:

You sort of want them to blend in, don’t you? And yet, for their well being, they need to be who they are, you know, their overall well being, it’s about being who they are.

Anna Hayward 00:20:01:

You know, there is a risk in being any kind of LGBTQ identity. Horrible things happened to friends of mine. People have been assaulted. One of my friends got punched, got a jaw broken by. By a random woman in a pub, purely for being out and about as a lesbian, a gay friend has been assaulted twice now, been assaulted by random people and the trans people I know, although, even though I know some fairly horrible stories about what’s happened to people, one of the things that I also know in the stories is that, like, a friend of mine was assaulted in a supermarket cafe. She was badly assaulted and the cafe manager gave her a lifetime’s free food. Basically said, anytime you come here, you don’t pay.

Josephine 00:20:54:

I mean, one of the questions I’m asking everybody who I’m interviewing is because I find it really difficult to cope with what’s going on in the world in terms of, you know, the politics. It is frightening, isn’t it? And I think it’s. We can focus on the difficult stuff, can’t we? And yet what you’re telling me about that cafe manager is somebody who was probably mortified that the assault happened there.

Anna Hayward 00:21:17:

The majority of people who saw that assault were concerned for my friend, very upset about it and felt very unsafe as a result of it happening to somebody else. And I think the majority of people in the world are not evil. I mean, they might be ignorant, they might say the wrong things, they might use the wrong words. So I do try and keep a sense of proportion. And actually, one of the people that helps me keep a sense of proportion is my son, who says, oh, for goodness sake, mum! People are not lurking around corners waiting to attack me. And though he is not able to work, but he has a voluntary job and he’s a member of a local club, basically quite involved in these clubs, there’s a lot of autistic people. It’s a gaming club and there’s a lot of autistic people in there and a lot of them are gender variant and those that aren’t gender variant are not straight, you know. But one of the problems of him using he him pronouns is, I get it, in the neck, not so much in my local town where everyone knows.

Josephine 00:22:30:

So if people see you out and about with him.

Anna Hayward 00:22:33:

Right, we went on. Yeah, yeah. We went on holiday to York and we were in a cafe and the person at the counter said, what would you like? And my son said, oh, I want a raspberry bun and a cup of tea, or whatever. So I said, oh, he wants a raspberry bun and a cup of tea. And this woman went up to me and she said, you have a beautiful daughter there, you should respect her. Told me off for using he/him pronouns. And I was like, actually, he’s non binary. And so I’ve had a few incidents where people have actually come up and they’ve actually heavily criticised me or accused me of being transphobic because I’m misgendering my beautiful daughter.

My son being autistic is like, I’m not a girl. What they’re talking about.

Josephine 00:23:29:

And that just sort of goes to show how you can’t make those assumptions, can you? And why it’s quite important to actually have those to other people what their pronouns are, because you make assumptions, don’t you? Otherwise, like, I mean, with the kindest of, you know, intentions that they’re making an assumption about your non binary child as opposed to yeah.

Anna Hayward 00:23:50:

Yeah, I mean, he’s better now, but he used to, if people used she her pronouns, he used to look at them like they were insane because one of the, one of the features of autism, particularly, you know, person who has significant problems, is that they don’t really understand how other people think. Obviously, you know, I’m not saying it’s not the same as empathy. I’m not saying that. I’m not saying he’s lacking empathy, but he. He lacked an understanding that somebody sees a person presenting in a frock and with bows in their hair, they’re going to assume that that person wants to be seen as female, and he doesn’t understand why they would do that. Because in his world, it’s like, like you just said, you know, you ask them what their pronouns are. You don’t make any assumptions. And we should all be like that, but unfortunately, we’re not.

Josephine 00:24:40:

We have this particular, you know, quick sort of short shorthand of assumptions about making assumptions about people to help us.

Anna Hayward 00:24:47:

Yeah. I was always told when we run the support group, you know, if somebody’s presenting, then you use she her pronouns and you refer to them as female. That worked really well up until a few years ago when we started getting non binary members who threw that whole gender thing out the window.

Josephine 00:25:09:

Absolutely. Yeah. And I think that non-binary people now make up the biggest sort of proportion of the sort of gender non conforming communities.

Anna Hayward 00:25:16:

I think they do, yeah. Yeah. I mean, the binary trans person, this is a person that goes from male to female or female to male, is quite a small percentage of the population, is it? The survey said 0.7%.

Josephine 00:25:32:

I think it was 0.5. Wasn’t it, in the last. Yeah, I think it’s about 500,000 people, but I don’t know if that includes non binary as well.

Anna Hayward 00:25:09:

I think it included non binary people who present in opposite genders, because I’ve met non binary people who’ve gone through transition. So I know a person who’s gone from female to male, but they said all along they knew they were non binary, but in order to get NHS treatment, they decided that that’s what they had to do. Yeah.

Josephine 00:26:04:

Yeah, it’s a way of actually getting the help that they need is to.

Anna Hayward 00:26:08:

Say, no judgement there, because the system at the time, I’ve heard it’s better now, but the system at the time just did not acknowledge that non binary identities even existed.

Josephine 00:26:18:

And it’s still, I mean, in terms of passports and stuff like that, they’re still. It’s still not really acknowledged, is it?

Anna Hayward 00:26:23:

Yeah. Did you hear the news story that a non binary person tried to apply for a mortgage with the mx title said, or mister or miss or misses, you can mx, which is the title that my eldest uses. And because that was not on the computer, the bank refused to give them a mortgage. They did actually sort it out. They did, actually. And they stuck to their guns and said, no, I’m not, you know, this is my legal identity, you know, I’ve changed my name and this is the title I wish to use and it’s a legitimate title and the bank has actually changed their policy now. Yeah. But I mean.

Yeah, there are lots of problems because, I mean, my son once said to me, he said, I think gender’s stupid.

Josephine 00:27:15:

The thing about autistic people is they often just, you know, call spade a spade. And it’s just so obvious to them, isn’t it? And you think, why?

Anna Hayward 00:27:22:

Yeah, to him it’s like, why divide the world into male and female? Why? Why is literally kind of a few of differences in genitalia? Because that’s basically all it is, mean that you’re treated like completely separate types of human being. That’s his perspective and I can’t help seeing the logic of that. Yeah, I mean, it’s sort of arbitrary, really.

Josephine 00:27:47:

I think we miss out on a lot unless we listen to people and we listen to why people think the way they do. And hearing your youngest’s sort of viewpoint, I just think it’s really interesting because. It’s sort of like people say, oh, it’s so obvious. There’s obviously only men and male and female. Well, I mean, that just completely ignores the existence of intersex people. But it isn’t obvious.

Anna Hayward 00:28:11:

I do kind of understand when my son says it’s all nonsense. I do totally get him. Now, you might be wondering why, if I’ve asked him, you know, why he likes cross dress as he doesn’t seem to have a problem with having male physicality. He says that he likes dresses and he likes pretty things and he likes bows and that’s it. So why the hell not.

Josephine 00:28:39:

Yeah, why can’t I wear them if that’s what I want to wear?

Anna Hayward 00:28:39:

Yeah. Yeah. I’m very proud of him. Yeah, very proud of him. Now, it’s not been easy because of my own fears, but you’ve got to be really careful when you’re a parent not to impose your fears onto your children.

Josephine 00:28:55:

Yeah. So, Anna, tell me a bit more about your oldest, then, who’s also non binary. It’s a different experience.

Anna Hayward 00:29:02:

It was only quite recently, actually, that my eldest came to me and I called them my eldest because I tried various different terms like adult, child, progeny, offspring, whatever. But eldest seems to be the most natural that comes off the tongue. And they said that, that they were non binary, but in a very different way to their brother. For a start, they use they them pronouns, but apart from the pronouns, they don’t obviously appear to be gender non conforming. Yeah, they tend to wear masculine clothes, but they have quite a curvy figure. So, you know, they often get mistaken for a butch lesbian, but they’re not. They’re heterosexual. I don’t even know the word heterosexual and homosexual actually work for non binary people. I think we’re going to have to think of the new terminology. They have a husband. Yeah. And their husband’s a straight man. So it’s been a bit of. A bit weird for him. But, you know, bless him, he’s sort of coped.

Anna Hayward 00:30:04:

And I think he feels the same, you know, that his spouse has got to be themselves because there’s no point in being in a relationship and not being able to be yourself. And recently they had a baby. Yes, we are a grandmother – quoted Thatcher! Yeah. When they went through pregnancy, some of the medical, the midwifery people were quite good and made efforts to refer to them as the birthing person or the pregnant person. And a lot of these transphobes get very upset about the term birthing person and say, you mean a woman. Well, actually, no.

Josephine 00:30:48:

Because that, that’s what they, they wanted.They want to be treated as a non binary person. They don’t want to be treated as a. As a mother.

Anna Hayward 00:30:57:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, all due respect to mothers, obviously, I’m a mother and they respect my role as their mother. So it’s not about other people, it’s about how they see themselves. And they said, I mean, again, like their brother, they never played with stereotypical gender conforming toys. Yes, they had Sylvanian Families, but they also had this haunted castle and skeletons and werewolves and things like that. Like a horror castle.

Josephine 00:31:32:

Interest in the Gothic?

Anna Hayward 00:31:34:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. A very, very gothic sort of castle toy. These were these plastic models and they had a thing about dragons and they had Action Man rather than Barbie. But I said they also had Sylvanian families. They also liked flower fairy books. They were a complete mixture. But then, on the other hand, I’m cisgender and I used to play Meccano, which people don’t know about these days, but I did. Lego and Meccano were my thing.

Anna Hayward 00:32:01:

So again, we didn’t really put two and two together. And I don’t think they put two and two together actually, for years.

Josephine 00:32:06:

It’s as interesting, isn’t it, as mothers, we do, we think we’re doing the right thing by our children, and then it turns out we didn’t really know the full story. So. Yeah, go on.

Anna Hayward 00:32:16:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, before my son came out as non binary, I bought him a very expensive tweed jacket for a wedding, which was never worn. So my eldest was, yeah, just really gender non-conforming in their outfit sometimes, and then other times they would wear a frock. And I think, oh, obviously they’re, you know, but I couldn’t really. I didn’t really know anything about non binary people. You know, I knew about trans people from relatives and their support group that I was involved in, but I didn’t understand about non-binary people. And I suppose, like a lot of people, I thought non binary people were androgynous people, or I confused it with intersex. So I’ve learned a lot.

When my youngest came out as non binary, I learned that was, that was a very steep learning curve and I thought I got it sussed. And then the second kid comes out as non binary and they’re completely different. And it’s like the most difficult thing for me has been the they them pronoun to remember to use them. I realised that some people, some parents I’ve spoken to with non binary kids actually feel almost, I don’t know, I don’t know if I’m being unfair to them, but they almost feel resentful that they’re expected to do this very difficult thing of using they them pronouns. And it is difficult.

Josephine 00:33:35:

Yeah, it’s remembering because you.

Anna Hayward 00:33:38:

But it’s not just remembering, it’s that you get mocked for using it, you know, and I do think, you know, I’m not saying, oh, poor me, oh, I get mocked for using they then pronounce, well, what’s it like if you are actually the person the pronoun deferred to? Yeah, absolutely. But there’s social embarrassment and it’s not because I think anything embarrassing at all, but it’s that people don’t know who you’re talking about. They go, oh, what? What do you mean they? So then I’m using, they. They are pregnant and people think that I’m implying that my son in law.

Josephine 00:34:12:

Yeah, they think you’re being like that.

Anna Hayward 00:34:14:

Yeah, yeah. It’s just, it’s just a lot. People just get very confused by it. I don’t necessarily get negative, real vitriol, but just, but you explain it and then they say, oh, this is just a, this is a new fashion, a new fad it’s nonsense, you know, and then you get into unwanted discussions about the validity of a non binary identity.

Josephine 00:34:36:

And then they ask you about whether or not they’re going to have any operations and.

Anna Hayward 00:34:41:

Yeah, yeah. You know, but it’s like they don’t hear you when you say, you know, my eldest doesn’t relate as, as a male or a female, and they well, go, oh, oh, they’re intersex, are they? And they go, no, they’re not intersex.

Josephine 00:34:55:

What I’m thinking is, it must be quite reassuring to have a mum who actually wants to support them and understands as much as you can, because we’re always on a learning curve, aren’t we? But to have someone in their background who does support them, who is trying to remember to use the they/thems.

Anna Hayward 00:35:12:

I have actually had times when I have completely messed up on the they/them pronoun and constantly misgender my eldest. Constantly. I did it yesterday and I do it in text and I do it face to face and yeah, and I just get so frustrated with myself because it’s not implying that I don’t really approve or, or whatever, you know.

Josephine 00:35:39:

Your brain’s just used to it I think, after so many. Yeah, I don’t know how old they are, but I mean, with mine.

Anna Hayward 00:35:48:

And the thing is that as an autistic person also, it’s harder for me with language, social language particularly, and it’s harder to change patterns that I’ve got into. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Josephine 00:35:47:

I think it’s sort of like with me, I just, it just pops out when I’m not thinking about it. So I’ll sort of quite often, if I’m talking about them when they were kids, I might come out with their dead name or use the wrong pronouns.

Anna Hayward 00:36:17:

And then, I mean, the other day.

Josephine 00:36:19:

I said something really ridiculous. My daughter had done something amazing and I just said, oh, that’s my boy. And then I said, oh, I’m so sorry, you know, it just popped out. Yeah and it’s.

Anna Hayward 00:36:31:

And obviously, trans and non-binary people vary in how much they find that difficult. My eldest says that they. I mean, they’re not pleased by it. I think they must get quite irritated, but they’re not. They’re not thinking that it means something deep or that I’ve rejected them or anything like that. But I’ve had clients who’ve actually practically become suicidal because of misgendering.

So. And that always sticks in my mind when, you know, I find it quite hard because I work with quite a lot of non-binary people and I want them to know that I don’t judge them, that I accept them as they are, that I believe them and all that sort of stuff. And then I’m going out there and getting it wrong.

Josephine 00:37:18:

Yeah, And knowing the impact that that has on some of your clients that, you know, for some transgender people, I know we can’t call ourselves allies, but, you know, certainly from the way where we’ve talked together and your sort of long history of being alongside, you know, I do believe you are an ally and when the allies make mistakes, you do feel bad about it, don’t you? It’s just you don’t want to. You recognise the importance of it for people.

Anna Hayward 00:37:43:

Some people would like question why it’s so important, particularly if I’m not in front of them, if they’re not around, of why I’m trying to get it right. And I say I’m in the process of trying to get it right. And I think it’s about respect. If somebody tells you who they are, then it’s up to you to believe them and respect that. And there is always a concern that if you are not doing that, particularly when they’re not around and they can’t hear you, that maybe your respect is just kind of superficial and it’s just.

Josephine 00:38:20:

Yeah, it’s sort of like paying lip service to it, but actually, in your core, you want to respect people for who they say they are. And so it’s sort of interesting to hear you talk about that people can feel quite suicidal. We were talking earlier about our own fears for the trans community and for our kids. I mean, obviously, we want to maintain confidentiality, but could you give us sort of a bit of an overview as to how the stuff that’s going on in politics for about transgender people, how that might affect some of the clients that you see?

Anna Hayward 00:38:52:

Yeah. My trans and non-binary clients talk about it all the time, and they talk about how, even if it’s stuff that’s happened in the US, in Mississippi or whatever, is that it makes them feel unsafe. So we do talk a lot about the difference between what the media, which is much of the media, is very transphobic and very invested in making trans people out to be the bogey person. Not so much non binary. But that’s only because the press doesn’t really understand non binary people.

Josephine 00:39:23:

It’s particularly trans women, isn’t it, that they’re

Anna Hayward 00:39:26:

It’s particularly trans women, yeah. And actually, you know, as a gay person who went through. I was a nurse during the AIDS pandemic, I do remember the vitriol that gay men were targeted, they were abused that, you know, we used to have outside the hospital. We had a protest once about that the hospital shouldn’t be treating AIDS patients. They should just let them die. And I remember that in the eighties, and this is the same bloody thing only applied to trans people. They’ve just shifted their vitriol and the lies about being all being paedophiles and all being, you know, dangerous to society and whatever, and they’ve just switched it on to trans people. And they largely leave, though not exclusively. They’ve largely leaves gay people alone, and they’ve just gone on to the trans people. But we overcame. You know, that’s what I say to my clients. You know, the fact is, trans people have always existed and always will exist. Gay people have always existed and always will exist. And no matter how much persecution and how much misinformation and whatever, we still exist.

I’m going to start quoting Maya Angelou in a minute. Here I stand like the willow. Yeah.

Josephine 00:40:45:

And I don’t know if you saw, but there was the US study that came out recently where they surveyed 90,000 transgender people in the US, 98% of the people who’d had gender affirming care were happier post transition. There was only 2% who were unhappy. And out of all of the people, including those who had transitioned but not had medical care, about 75% of them were happy. But the ones that had had the gender affirming care were even happier. And that’s actually the reality, isn’t it that, you know, this is actually something that is life saving, life enhancing, and it makes a difference to real people’s lives, and it makes a difference to us as parents as well, to know that our kids are, you know, living happily. And I think the other thing that was a really sort of big thing that when we, when our kids first came out, you know, we had that sort of reaction of thinking, we’ve lost. We’ve lost our kids. And then we sort of very quickly realised that we haven’t lost them at all because they haven’t, honestly, they haven’t changed. I mean, you know who they were.

Anna Hayward 00:41:56:

You just learned. You just learn more about them. Yeah. Yeah.

Josephine 00:41:59:

Yeah. Yeah.. That’s putting it really well. Yeah, let’s learn more about them. And they’re just the same as they always were. It’s just, you know, they dress differently and they’re happier.

Anna Hayward 00:42:09:

Yeah. A trans friend of mine, who’s a scientist, and we were sort of at a the party, and we were laughing and we were teasing her. And we were saying, so nothing’s really changed because she used to be an uber geek and now she’s a female uber geek.

Anna Hayward 00:42:30:

Basically, yeah. So kind of everything has changed and nothing has changed. Yeah. And you said earlier about what really helped you as a mother of trans daughters was meeting other trans people. Yeah. Yeah. There is this horrible stuff going on, but also, I meet dozens and dozens and dozens of trans and non-binary people, some of whom are in my family, who are living their lives, living fulfilled, happy lives. You said about 98% of people post transition are happier.

And that’s certainly, I’ve seen that. The 2%, actually, if you analyse the 2% who de-transition or regret it, the so-called regretters, what you find is the vast majority of those regret it for social reasons. So, because they’ve been persecuted, because they’ve been excluded from their family or even thrown out of their family. So that’s a result of prejudice. And there’s a tiny, tiny percentage who transition and regret it. And my personal view of people like that is they deserve our compassion and respect. I’ve read of two cases where the transitioners have been stalked by the media and their families have been interviewed and refused to speak to the media. So the media just told lies.

Josephine 00:43:49:

Yeah.. And I’ve certainly read of sort of one person who’s a detransitioner who, you know, agreed to be interviewed by a tabloid on the basis that, you know, they wanted to explain where they were coming from. And it was completely misrepresented and used as a. Oh, well, this just goes to show, you know, blah, blah, blah.

Anna Hayward 00:44:11:

And I think you and I have read the same story. Yeah. And I just. My heart breaks for that person because, you know, so, you know, I’m not saying, oh, there’s nobody ever, but it’s very rare. And, you know, and all the decent services that I know, if somebody did regret it, and I have met somebody who regretted it. I’ll tell you their story, they were a drag queen and they had a drug problem and they started becoming a bit psychotic and imagining that if they were female, they could take on their drag persona and they could leave their real self behind. And they went to some dodgy doctors in Thailand who didn’t follow the protocols and didn’t do it properly and so called transitioned, but came back to the UK, was in a very bad state, mentally realised they’ve made a terrible mistake. That was one person’s story, and that couldn’t really happen in the UK, I don’t think. I hope.

Josephine 00:45:19:

But it’s so difficult for anybody to get any gender affirming care anyway. They have to wait so long, don’t they, that.

Anna Hayward 00:45:25:

But if you go. If you go to developing countries and you wave lots of money in front of quacks, these things happen. But, you know, shouldn’t stop at our kids getting the help they need. Yeah. Yeah.

Josephine 00:45:39:

Yeah. thanks so much for coming along, and it’s been absolutely fascinating to talk to you. I know we could talk for so much longer. We’ve got so much in common, haven’t we? But thank you. What I learned from Anna is that people express themselves in all sorts of different ways. This is illustrated both by her involvement over time with Beaumont Society and then also in her own family. Her son has one interpretation of being non binary and her eldest child another. I think many of us want to categorise the world. It makes it easier on our brains, but often we can’t easily put people into boxes.

But the most important thing, I think, to allow people the grace that they know themselves best. As parents, I think we can find it very difficult to keep up, and we do have a lot of learning to do, but that doesn’t make our children wrong. And Anna’s experience with her clients demonstrates how difficult it can be for transgender and gender non conforming people to be misgendered and not to be treated with respect. And that’s to say nothing of the impact on their lives of being misrepresented by media and politicians.