[00:00:00] Josephine: Hi, I’m Josephine Hughes. I’m the mother of two transgender daughters who came out in their teens and early twenties. I told my own stories in series one of Gloriously unready, and in season two, I’m finding out more about transgender people’s experiences because as I adapted to having transgender daughters, it helped me a lot to get to know transgender people.

In this series, I ask what’s it like to come out as transgender to a world that is not always ready for you, and how can you ever be ready to tell the people that you love, that you’re not the person they think you are?

Today’s guest is Tommy Powell. Tommy Powell is a young transgender man in his twenties. He began taking testosterone in June 2020 and has documented his transition on his Instagram including his top surgery in Turkey in August 2020. 

Tommy, I’m really excited about speaking with you and I’m sure that what you’re gonna tell us will help loads of us parents out there who really need to know more about what it’s like to be transgender and in particularly what it’s like to be a transgender man.

Because often, it seems that transgender men get forgotten about in all the sort of stuff that’s talked about with regard to transgender issues. So, do you feel like that, do you feel that sort of transgender men aren’t really acknowledged or talked about at all? 

[00:01:48] Tommy Powell: Yes, I do because I think people, as society appear to accept trans guys more than trans women, and they don’t seem to think of us as a threat, whereas, with trans women, they generally do.

So we are then forgotten about even when going to the GPs, if you’re down as a male, you don’t get told that you need to have a smear test done or anything related with that. Because on their records you’re male, which I totally, totally accept. But it does leave it a little bit awkward when you phone up and say can I have a smear test?

[00:02:32] Josephine: That is just such a really interesting perspective I think, because we get a lot of people getting very cross about things like you can’t use the expression breastfeeding or, that, it’s a big hoo-ha about asking males whether they might be pregnant. But that’s part of what you’re talking about, isn’t it?

It’s to be more inclusive towards trans men. 

[00:02:56] Tommy Powell: . If you are a biological woman and you’ve had a child and you want to call it breastfeeding. Absolutely call it, whatever you want. If someone who isn’t biologically male doesn’t want to call it breastfeeding, that’s also okay. It’s up to the person. I’m sure lots of people have lots of different views on it. 

[00:03:17] Josephine: There’s like almost a lot of hot air, in a sense, a lot of heat. And actually perhaps it could just be resolved by saying, Say what’s comfortable for you? I don’t know. What do you think?

[00:03:30] Tommy Powell: . I think, this might sound really awful, but a lot of people feel that they maybe need to go a little bit too far and every single thing needs to change, but it doesn’t. We as trans people just need to relax a little bit with it.

I understand why people get quite upset and annoyed and angry with things, but I know that we’re in like 2023 now, but it’s not as if we can change everything overnight. Because life doesn’t work like that. 

[00:04:04] Josephine: What I’m curious about is do you think that sense of, take it slowly, almost in a sense, don’t confront everybody with this needs to change now.

Do you think that sort of viewpoint has been born from your own experience of coming out? 

[00:04:19] Tommy Powell: Yeah, because I didn’t go a hundred miles an hour. I took a long time to tell anybody. I think, because I didn’t really know how to. I do everything quite slowly really. Again, it could just be myself. I didn’t want people to be like, oh my gosh, we need to do this, we need to do that. We can’t get it wrong. We need to get it right all the time. I knew deep down that people wouldn’t get it right all the time. Even more so if I pushed it. It’s a bit like children, you tell a child not to do something and they’re gonna do it. You tell people that you really must do this and you cannot do this and they’re gonna do what you don’t want them to do.

Just because we are taller children, we are still, we’re still a little bit like children. 

[00:05:15] Josephine: So tell me a bit more, cause I’m so curious when you said it took you a long time to tell anybody, so did you did you know for a long time, was it something that you knew from a very young age or was it more something that you knew as a teenager?

[00:05:29] Tommy Powell: So growing up I was a happy little girl, and I’ll never ever deny that because I was a bit of a tomboy. I liked to do everything with my dad, and my sister generally did most things with my mum, but I still didn’t see myself as a little boy. I knew I was a little girl. It was, as I got older, I thought something wasn’t quite right within myself.

And I thought that maybe I liked girls. So when I was 17 or 18, I had my first girlfriend. And that was great. And I still didn’t feel quite right. It wasn’t that I was with a girl that was wrong because that then felt right. But I felt like something wasn’t right within me. Anyway, I just ignored the feeling because I didn’t know what the feeling was.

I just knew it wasn’t right. And I didn’t wanna try and research it because Google will tell you anything. 

[00:06:32] Josephine: Didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole. 

[00:06:37] Tommy Powell: Yeah. I’d have been growing 10 arms and everything if I’d have asked. So I left it and left it, and then I was watching a YouTube video. It was f d m, transgender man or boy or guy, male.

And I realised actually I wasn’t a girl. I was a guy. 

[00:07:00] Josephine: That’s a fairly big thing to acknowledge to yourself, isn’t it really big thing to acknowledge to yourself. 


[00:07:06] Tommy Powell: It was probably about a year after I told my parents that I was then a lesbian and they were absolutely fine with that. But I couldn’t then go and tell them this other, what I thought was big news. So I didn’t say anything until about three or four years later. 

[00:07:28] Josephine: It was quite a long time then, wasn’t it? 

[00:07:32] Tommy Powell: Even when I think back now, I wasn’t ready to Tommy then. 

[00:07:36] Josephine: What was the tipping point for you?

What actually enabled you ultimately to say, yep I am a man and this is, I’m gonna tell everybody. 

[00:07:49] Tommy Powell: I don’t really know. I think it was that I told a few of my friends and then that same day I knew that I needed to tell my parents because I didn’t want them to hear it from someone else.

It was very scary. I was absolutely petrified because I’d seen all these videos about parents who would disown their children or trans people whose families don’t want anything to do with them. And I just thought, oh my gosh, that might be me. 

It was the complete opposite, but it was still a massive, massive fear that I had. So I was, went home cause I was living there at that point and I went and lay on the sofa and my mum said, oh, what’s wrong darling? 

[00:08:44] Josephine: She picked up on it straight away. 

[00:08:47] Tommy Powell: Yeah, true mum style. I said, oh nothing.

And I was waiting for my dad to go to bed at 10 o’clock. Which he does religiously even to this day, every night. And I still just lay on the sofa watching the telly and mum says, are you sure you’re all right? I said , I’m fine. She’d come over here and tell me what’s wrong. I think I started to cry and I told her that I wanted her to still love me. 

To which then she’s 

[00:09:15] Josephine: poor woman, must have been, 

[00:09:18] Tommy Powell: what the hell is this child gonna tell me? And then I just said, mum, I’m something along the lines of, I’m not a girl, I’m a boy. And she went, oh, oh right. Have you told your dad? No. So then she went and got my dad, and he came down with his hands on his hips and went, yeah what’s wrong?

So I said it again. He went, oh right, okay. Good night. And that was it. Yeah, I’ve never known him to come downstairs after being woken up. I can’t really remember what conversations we’d had. But I’d already done my research with how I wanted to access hormones. I’d already booked an appointment with my GP.

So just explained it to mum and, she wanted to come with me to my first appointment. And…

[00:10:12] Josephine: how long did you have to wait to get an appointment? 

[00:10:14] Tommy Powell: I was referred, oh wait, it’s somewhere between 2018 

[00:10:19] Josephine: and so long you can’t exactly remember when it was. . 

[00:10:24] Tommy Powell: And , so I haven’t been seen with them.

I chose to go privately for both hormones and surgery with hormones. I emailed in the October and I had an appointment for the August, and then in the January there was a cancellation for the next day. And you still have to be seen by a psychiatrist and they have to check that everything’s okay.

In the appointment they ask quite a lot of questions. And it’s more based around everything but being trans. 

[00:11:03] Josephine: I was gonna say, I saw my daughter’s assessment for at the gender identity clinic and it was asking her so many really intrusive questions about sexuality and that sort of stuff.

[00:11:15] Tommy Powell: And you know how my upbringing was have my parents ever suffered any mental health problems? It was a lot, and if I’m honest, I didn’t really have anything to tell them. I was very honest and said, I haven’t been living as Tommy for overly long. I know that this is right.

That was the January, and then my prescription came in June. 

[00:11:43] Josephine: Were you nervous before taking it or? 

[00:11:45] Tommy Powell: I was excited. I didn’t want to go bald. Which is now happening. There’s lots of different changes that happen. And the main problem I didn’t want was to go bald. I didn’t care about anything else.

I just didn’t wanna lose my hair, even though, my dad was bald at 23. I’ve got four years on him now, and I’ve got more hair. 

[00:12:13] Josephine: Cause that must be , that must be quite a change. 

[00:12:17] Tommy Powell: My mum’s dad, he till the day he died. He had a brilliant head of hair. He had some gray around the ears. And it was all brown, but, 

[00:12:26] Josephine: So you’re going to try to go after the maternal line. But you began to take after your dad’s line. 

So , go on. How has that felt to start going bald? 

[00:12:39] Tommy Powell: Awful. Really, I must have looked at 20 million different places to have a hair transplant. Or a hair system. I’ve tried taking different medications to try and keep it, but it just isn’t doing it. But I don’t think it’ll be long until I just get rid of it myself. . 

[00:13:01] Josephine: It really interesting, isn’t it? This whole stuff about gender. When you’re transgender you come across a whole lot of other things, don’t you?

[00:13:09] Tommy Powell: And with the experiencing what men experiences that you are expected to act a certain way. And you’re expected to be really masculine. I’m the complete opposite. I am not masculine at all. I am the gayest straight guy I know. I’m not really masculine at all. I still even now get all of my trousers from the girls section.

I’ll wear something that I’m comfortable in. If other people don’t like it I don’t really care. , 

[00:13:39] Josephine: Yeah, and I think this is again, something that bridging the gender divide, this gender binary actually gives us, isn’t it? Is, actually, why are we following these particular rules as to what you wear if you’re a man and what you wear if you are a woman.

Except I think there’s a lot of pressure on transgender people to dress traditionally as a masculine person or traditionally as a feminine person. 

[00:14:05] Tommy Powell: My mum and dad had two girls and we still had boy toys and girl toys because to us they were just toys. 

[00:14:14] Josephine: I was gonna say we haven’t talked about this, but when you came out, you were living in quite a small area where everybody knows each other, weren’t you?

So tell me a bit about that. What was it like coming out to, in an area where, sort of everybody knew you and your previous name.

[00:14:32] Tommy Powell: It was, nice in the sense that you could probably only tell a handful of people and then everybody would know. 

[00:14:40] Josephine: Which is why you were so keen to tell your parents so quickly.

[00:14:45] Tommy Powell: So I didn’t really have to tell many people because I knew it would just spread quicker than you could click your fingers. But a lot of people continued to get it wrong but deliberately got it wrong. I don’t mind people getting, people that have known me forever accidentally getting it wrong, that doesn’t bother me one bit. But when somebody who didn’t know me now apparently knows me and doesn’t call me Tommy, even now, it just doesn’t really make sense because if you are consciously trying to call me something or someone that I’m not, you might as well just call me my name.

So I’ve not really had much hate. Or negativity around being trans except from a group of people from where I’m from. And there were five or six of them. And it was message after message saying that they were gonna come and assault me, sexually assault me, find out where I live.

[00:15:53] Josephine: Oh goodness. 

[00:15:54] Tommy Powell: Come into my house in the middle of the night and it’s not hard to find out where people are from. And there was this one guy, he’s just

without this sounding awful. They weren’t even the type of people that looked like they would be bullies. And he just messaged me and said, oh, you’re not gonna ring the police on me now, are you darling? And I thought, oh my gosh, why haven’t I already done it? . Thank you so much for bringing that idea to me.

So that’s what I did. I dunno if it was coincidence or what, but I’ve not heard anything since.

[00:16:33] Josephine: So how was it, when you did report it to the police, were you given like a fair hearing, do you think?

[00:16:40] Tommy Powell: I did it online and then I was at my friend’s house. And my mum and dad rang me and they said, I think you need to come home, the police are here and they want to talk to you. And they won’t tell me what it’s about, but they were really nice they just said, if anything like this does happen again, just let us know. Only one of the five or six people were known to them. 

[00:17:04] Josephine: But it stopped after that?

[00:17:07] Tommy Powell: Yeah

[00:17:07] Josephine: How did it affect you at the time, do you think, having to be exposed to those sorts of hate messages? 

[00:17:16] Tommy Powell: It was more when people, like, when that group of people said things about my family.s I didn’t really care too much about me because I thought it, it’s just a message online.

If they want to say something they’ll say it to me. And whenever I walked past them in the street afterwards, they never said anything. And I was on my own. But I knew that I would get some people that disagree with it and don’t like it and have views and opinions that to me, are irrelevant.

But I don’t like to let them get to me. I just put a wall up and just, you can say whatever, but you’re talking to the wall at the moment. You’re not talking to me. When you finish, the wall goes away and. And for a minute or two I might be sad. And then afterwards I’m like, oh , they said X, Y, Z.

[00:18:08] Josephine: Do you get much attention? I know you’ve moved cities now, do you find you still get attention, or was it just living it at home that it happened? 

[00:18:20] Tommy Powell: No, it was just living at home. Here, nobody knows me. Again, it’s a really nice, refreshing feeling, but I feel like I’m lying to everyone.

Not that I need to walk around with a banner. But it’s a feeling that is strange to describe 

[00:18:43] Josephine: Because you’re being honest in that you are being you. You’re being Tommy and this is who you are. But the fact is people don’t know that at another point in your life, you weren’t Tommy.

[00:18:57] Tommy Powell: Yeah, even with my DBS that came back the other day, it’s my first one that only has the name Tommy on it. It’s a lovely feeling. But strange, and that’s the only word I can use to describe it, I think. 

[00:19:14] Josephine: Does it feel a bit, almost like an imposter syndrome, do you think? Is it that sort of thing?

It’s almost like being able to pass is held up as, like a really good thing. And yet also by the sounds of, it also leaves you with some sort of complicated feelings as well. 

[00:19:32] Tommy Powell: Yeah, you don’t really hear about people, or people don’t really share their stories when they move away from home.

[00:19:39] Josephine: This is one of the things about being almost like on the cutting edge of the change that we are seeing, I think, isn’t it, is that we haven’t got that body of literature to support you in your experience of life. So it feels quite lonely in a sense. 

[00:19:56] Tommy Powell: It feel, I would say more isolated.

Because I don’t know that many trans people anyway. At least back home my friends knew. And they knew that if I didn’t want to go swimming or I didn’t want to do something like that, it was because of everything underneath. . 

[00:20:18] Josephine: Cause I, I think the benefit of people who are listening, it might be worth saying why swimming might be a bit problematic for you.

[00:20:25] Tommy Powell: Pre-surgery, I would’ve just wore a binder to, and then a t-shirt. And because I am a bigger guy, people didn’t really, take much notice of it. Because I am bigger everything was smoother. It all went into one and it just looked more like moobs really. And then now that I’ve had surgery and I’ve got these two scars, it’s very flat.

I think I, it was nine or 10 months, 9 months post-op, so I’m still, it’s still quite fresh and to me, everybody’s looking at me, but in reality, they’re probably not. A few people may look, but the majority probably wouldn’t notice because I am quite hairy.

[00:21:15] Josephine: It’s not really a sort of poolside conversation that you want to have, is it?

[00:21:19] Tommy Powell: No, not at all. 

[00:21:21] Josephine: It’s like an aspect of life that perhaps those of us who are cisgendered we don’t think about, do people need to know our backgrounds? Do I need to explain myself? Can I say yes to social events? It’s not something that we would ever be concerned about, would it?

And yet you are having to think about it and think what would I do? 

[00:21:43] Tommy Powell: And with you saying that, it’s if we go out somewhere, I need to know where the toilet is. I need to know if there’s a disabled toilet. If you need a key for the disabled toilet. If there’s only one, say one cubicle in the men’s toilets, chances are that is gonna be an awful cubicle. And I am absolutely not going there. 

Do the other guys in the toilets know that I’m trans with how it sounds when I go to the toilet, you know, with how I wee because in my head, they would know. If I could go in a disabled toilet every time I absolutely would. 

And I bought a disabled key from Amazon, which I will use if generally if we’re in a really busy place.

Or there’s lots of kids around, like youth age kids. They they definitely wouldn’t look at me now and think, oh, I think he’s trans, but it’s that internal fear. 

[00:22:43] Josephine: And presumably the thought of using the ladies loos is just an anathema I should think, cause you probably don’t feel safe there either.

[00:22:51] Tommy Powell: If I had to choose, if I’m completely honest, if I had to choose, I would much rather go into the women’s toilets. However, if I was to, I think people would be very concerned and though they wouldn’t like it because they would see me as a guy using the women’s toilets. 

 had somebody say to me not so long ago, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with a trans woman going into the toilets. And I said would you be comfortable with me using the toilets? And this person didn’t know anything about me. And she said absolutely not you’re a guy. I said, but would you be happy with me coming into the toilets? I said, because if you don’t want trans women to go into the toilets and you think it should all be down to biology, then I’m gonna be going to the women’s toilets. And she just couldn’t understand that oh okay, I need to really think about this. Do I want men that look like men? That are trans coming in? Do I want trans men who look. Like men coming into the toilets, or do I want trans women that look like women coming into the toilets?

I’d feel safer in a room of trans women going to the toilet in the same space as them than I would a bunch of men. In reality, the trans women are probably a million times more scared than anybody else. 

It’s a topic that lots of people like to talk about because apparently genitals are very important and they’re not.

[00:24:33] Josephine: Which brings me on nicely to the next thing to talk about, which is, are you okay to tell us about your top surgery? Cuz that’s like another aspect of the body that… 

[00:24:45] Tommy Powell: In the uk when I was looking the prices privately, because again, I haven’t been seen by the nhs, were ranging from £8000 – £11000.

I didn’t have that sort of money. For me it was either I get top surgery and we buy a house, or I get top surgery done in the UK and we don’t buy a house. And obviously went for the option where we could have both. And I went to Turkey. And as daunting as it sounds, and it sound it doesn’t seem real until you get there.

It was the best thing I have ever done. 

People before were saying, oh, you don’t wanna be going to Turkey. It’s dangerous out there. What if it goes wrong? It can go wrong, it can go wrong in the UK. In Turkey, they’re probably not gonna want to get it wrong because they don’t want to get a bad reputation.

And obviously I’d done my research and knew how I wanted my chest to look. But the, in terms of the care from the Turkish nurses, the surgeon, everybody. I genuinely would say it was better than I probably would’ve received in the UK. They looked after me, they looked after my partner. You know 

[00:26:06] Josephine: It was a really positive experience by the sounds of things.

[00:26:09] Tommy Powell: It was a third of the price. It is strange because it, you don’t feel like it’s real. You go to Turkey with all this cash, you’ve got to take cash. You can pay by card, but you have to pay. X amount on top.

[00:26:25] Josephine: Must be quite, it’s quite scary carrying that, that amount of money around, isn’t it?

And you’re thinking this is actually gonna pay for something that’s really important. Must be terrifying. Having to have it bolted onto your arm or something like you see in the films, I should think. 

[00:26:40] Tommy Powell: And walking into the bank, before going and saying, oh hi, can I just withdraw £3,500 pounds, please?

The lady did look at me weirdly, and I did say to her, I’m going for surgery abroad. She said, oh, fine. 

But, it was the best thing I have ever done, and I couldn’t fault it. You turn up to the hospital and then within about half an hour, 45 minutes you’re being called to lie on the bed for them to sedate you and off you go. 

You go in, you sign your paperwork, you get taken to your room. Then the surgeon comes in and he says, take your top off. So I’m like, oh gosh, okay. So I take my top off and I’m stood and the windows in the room were the biggest windows you’ve seen in your life. The blinds weren’t shut they were all open. I thought well they’re going anyway, so whatever. And then he just says, do you want nipples or no nipples? I said are they gonna take, are they gonna stay on? Because there is that risk that they don’t. And he said they’ll stay on. And then he said I’ll see you in, I’ll see you in the theatre.

I said, oh okay. Didn’t think much more of it, he left. About 10 minutes later, heard the loudest knock on the door. Tommy. Tommy. I’m thinking oh my gosh what’s going on here. Come on, come on glasses off. Okay, say goodbye. And then they put whatever it was through the cannula and I can’t even remember coming out of the lift. 

And then coming back round.

I was so cold. I literally thought I was freezing to death. So they shoved this massive heater under you. And I just remember being so happy, but so exhausted. 

Opening the bathroom door to go to the loo. And there they were, my boobs on the floor. 

[00:28:45] Josephine: Oh goodness. . Talk about an out of body experience.

[00:28:52] Tommy Powell: It was, there were two bags and it labeled them left and right, how much they weighed. They weighed just over three kilograms. When the surgeon came in, it was either, I think it was the morning after, I said did everything go well. He said yes, Tommy. He said usually we put, what did he call it? Breast in a dog poo sbag. I said oh right, okay. He said for you, we had to get bin liners. [Laughter]

And me and Lindsay were absolutely peeing our pants. Oh my gosh. I could not stop laughing and it really hurt when I laugh, but he said, yep, bin liners. I said, oh right, okay. Sorry. They legally have to show you what they’ve taken from you and you have to leave it there. So once it’s been there, you can ask them to remove it, but nobody else can ask them to remove it.

It’s gotta be the person it was removed from. They were interesting to look at. . 

[00:30:03] Josephine: But sorry, did you have any sort of ceremony to say goodbye to them or anything like that, or? 

[00:30:11] Tommy Powell: No, we took lots of pictures. 

[00:30:14] Josephine: That’s good. So what I’m really interested in is , I think you said having top surgery was the best thing you’ve ever done.

So do you think out of the two that sort of like in a sense top surgery was more affirming of your gender identity than having T?

[00:30:31] Tommy Powell: No. I would definitely choose hormones over surgery for me, purely because my voice as a girl was very very high pitched. And it was like a really irritatingly, annoying, typical girly, girly voice.

So if I had to have chosen, it would’ve been hormones. And when I even went for my first appointment with hormones he said, oh, what are your views on top surgery? And I said, oh, I would like it at some point, but I’m not ready quite yet. And he said, okay, so do you want a referral now?

He said, because I don’t think you’re quite ready. So then when I was ready, I had a consultation, which I didn’t even need in the end. 

[00:31:24] Josephine: Did that help you to know even more that you were definitely okay to go for it and that you’d go for it privately? 

[00:31:32] Tommy Powell: Because we knew we were gonna be moving.

I wanted to feel complete or whatever you want to call it before moving. I knew that I wasn’t gonna be able to pay NHS prices, not NHS, private. 

So I thought I’ll have a look around. And this place in Turkey kept coming up and kept coming up and kept coming up.

And I just thought, is this a sign? Shall I just go there? And then I was, I originally booked in for the June and then canceled it because I got too scared. And I just thought I’m not ready yet. And then I rescheduled it for the end of August and I’m glad I waited. 

[00:32:20] Josephine: How did it help you to wait? 

[00:32:21] Tommy Powell: Financially really. More time to save more. And I needed to make sure I’d be, been working where I had been for X, I can’t remember how long it was. I think it was per, I think it was three years, because I needed to make sure that I would get full pay. Full sick pay so that I could afford to live when I get home. Cuz you still got rent to pay, bills to pay. Everything. 

[00:32:51] Josephine: How long were you off work for? 

[00:32:53] Tommy Powell: Two and a half months I think. And then I had a phased return. I was still getting paid sick pay because otherwise I wouldn’t have been paid properly. But I started to go in for a couple of hours on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

My job role had to change. I had to do a lot of admin stuff, which I wasn’t really keen on, but I wasn’t, I still wasn’t able to bend properly and. 

[00:33:22] Josephine: Was work understanding?

[00:33:25] Tommy Powell: They were brilliant. My manager and deputy manager they, they’re quite, they’re not young, well they are young.

And I told them everything that I was doing, and I was advised to wait a little bit longer so that I had more sick time, like sick pay. I couldn’t fault them. And even when I was over there, they messaged me just to make sure everything was okay. 

[00:33:52] Josephine: Oh, that’s nice. 

[00:33:53] Tommy Powell: So they were brilliant. And they understood that even though I was off sick, if they saw on social media, I was doing something it didn’t mean that I could work. Because they knew that I couldn’t lift things and do things. And I popped in once I came home from Turkey and they were like, oh my gosh, you are not coming back yet, are you?

Stay away. But , they were absolutely fantastic. 

[00:34:23] Josephine: Oh good. So we’re just reaching the end of our time together. What would you like people to know, do you think, in closing, what would be your sort of message you’d like to leave people with? 

[00:34:39] Tommy Powell: It would probably be that it’s okay if you don’t understand.

It’s okay if you don’t get it right every time. It’s okay if you make mistakes, but respect people and don’t deliberately get things wrong. 

[00:34:56] Josephine: From just listening to your story, you did have people who deliberately tried to get it wrong. But then you are also quite forgiving towards people who have good intentions but just forget. 

[00:35:12] Tommy Powell: My friends who are, either non-binary or trans themself, I still get it wrong. I don’t do it deliberately, but I would never say, I get it right every single time because I don’t. Even with other people, I often say if I’m speaking about Lindsay, I say he and she says, this woman.

You know, or even as a kid, instead of shouting, mum, I’d shout dad. We all do these things and that is absolutely fine, but it’s making sure that you go around it the right way and that, if you do make a mistake, just say, oh, sorry, or oh I mean he or she or them or their whatever pronoun is correct for that person. And if you don’t know somebody’s pronouns, just ask them. When I first asked somebody, what their pronouns were, I did feel very awkward, even as a trans person. 

[00:36:17] Josephine: And do you introduce yourselves and say, I’m Tommy, I’ve got pronouns he, him or? 

[00:36:23] Tommy Powell: On the bottom of emails? I generally do. Except for with my new work, I haven’t with them. Yet. And I did that for my previous place that I worked in. People would say why have you got those people know you’re a guy? I said well, people on the phone still think I’m a woman. I still get called a lady on the phone or are you ringing on behalf of Tommy?

So that’s why I do it on emails. 

[00:36:52] Josephine: It just makes it clear and helps people to know where you’re coming from. Because I find the thought of asking people their pronouns, will people be insulted or whatever, but, It’s just really helpful for transgender people that we do, isn’t it?

That’s the point of doing it. . 

[00:37:10] Tommy Powell: If you are unsure and you maybe don’t feel confident enough to ask, use gender neutral pronouns or their name, because that way you can’t get that wrong. And I think it, it depends on your relationship with that person.

If one of my groups of friends was to call us all girls I couldn’t care less. On the end, at the end of the phone, they all say all, bye girls. And that doesn’t bother me. I mean one of them is trans himself. It’s not done maliciously or nastily, that’s just the relationship that we all have with each other.

[00:37:54] Josephine: So I have to draw the interview to a close, but just before we do, would you like to tell people where we can find you on your sort of social media and 

[00:38:04] Tommy Powell: Yes. So my Instagram is Tomroo13. And that’s where you’ll find me. Everything I post is quite real. It’s not necessarily trans related, but it’s an insight into my life, my chaotic life. 

[00:38:26] Josephine: Brilliant. Thank you so much for coming and sharing something of what’s been going on for you and your journey. It’s been really great. 

[00:38:33] Tommy Powell: Thank you for having me.

[00:38:34] Josephine: The impression I gained of Tommy is this is someone who’s self-assured, who doesn’t have a point to prove and who is happily themselves. His understanding of people who may find it difficult to accept change while also protecting himself against those who act maliciously.

I suspect his laid back attitude has a lot to do with knowing how lovable he is. Something that parents, family, and friends can do a lot to reinforce.

Although Tommy is careful, like many trans men and non-binary people to acknowledge the flack that many of their transgender sisters receive, I think it’s important to state that those assigned female at birth also receive their fair share of prejudice.

It is usually couched in terms such as they’re unable to accept their bodies or they’re victims of social contagion. 

The implication that those assigned female at birth are too weak to readily influenced by others to know their own minds. I think in Tommy, we hear someone who is grounded and honest in their assessment of themselves, and next time we’ll hear from Marley, a non-binary person.

They found that acknowledging they were transgender resolved the issue of being labeled and socialised as a girl.