By Nathalie Bonney @nathaliebonney
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Videographer / director: Marcus Hessenberg
Producer: Nathalie Bonney, James Thorne
Editor: James Thorne
Despite getting married towards the beginning of 2018, Jake and Hannah Graf are only now moving into their first home together. The couple met three years ago, splitting their time between Jake’s west London flat and Hannah’s army barracks at Sandhurst.
But now that Hannah has left the army, she can finally live permanently with her husband.
The couple first connected over social media through mutual friends in the transgender community. Jake, an actor and director, transitioned 10 years ago, while Hannah, who joined the army as a man, serving in Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, began transitioning five years ago.
Jake told Barcroft TV: “We have that link that most of society will never understand which is a really, really powerful thing to have.
“Our trans identities are just something that kind of eased our getting to know each other - it’s certainly not what brought us together, it’s certainly what not keeps us together, it’s certainly what not defines our relationship and it’s certainly not why we are together. We are together because of everything else and the fact that we are both trans just makes those difficult moments that much easier.”
Keen to have children, the couple are starting 2019 by looking into the surrogacy process.
Jake said: “Our next plan is now surrogacy. So we have already spoken to several agencies about our surrogacy journey and done lots of research.”
The couple, who have been together for three years, will meet with an agency for the second time in January to see what the next steps will be.
Jake said: “We are very excited about the potential of starting a family. And if surrogacy doesn't work for us for whatever reason, then we will go down the adoption route.”
Hannah told Barcroft TV: “The thing about trans people is that we are just human beings. We want the same things as everyone else. There's nothing weird about it. We are just a man and a woman in love, who are married, living together, who want a family in the future. That's all there is to it.”
After Jake proposed to Hannah in a picture perfect moment in Central Park, NYC, in 2017 - “sky scrapers on one side, trees on the other side, there was purely by chance a little pagoda with a jazz band playing jazz across the water,” the couple got married in March, 2018 at Chelsea Old Town Hall.
Wearing a strapless, white gown and carrying a bouquet of white, pink and blue flowers - the colours of the trans flag, it was a day that Hannah didn’t ever allow herself to imagine when she was growing up in Cardiff.
Hannah said: “I kind of knew growing up that I was different, I didn’t vocalise it, I just knew that I was uncomfortable in my body.
“I managed to find ways to be happy and to cope with what I was going through. But throughout all of that I never felt comfortable in my body enough to be with someone intimately at all. So I just completely resigned myself to being alone all my life. I thought I would never be loved at all. I thought I would never have a family and that was that.”
An army captain who trained at Sandhurst, Hannah served in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers.
She said: “Coming out as a transgender in the army was quite daunting, but it probably shouldn’t have been because they were amazingly supportive. I was really worried about losing respect of the people I commanded, at the time I was a second in command at a company of around 120 people and I just didn’t know what it was going to be like looking after those people and if they would respect me but they were really good about it.
“I think in the army it is much more about being able to do your job than who you are.”
After making the successful transition in her professional life Hannah eventually felt able to start dating – thought she admits it was “daunting” and Jake was her first real boyfriend.
By contrast Jake had been vocal even as a child that he was unhappy with the body he was born in and before transitioning identified as a lesbian.
Jake said: “I knew unwaveringly that I was male and when I finally came out to my mum about 26-27 years old, she had kept a lot of the cards that I had made her when I was a kid on Mother’s day, Christmas and Father’s Day and all of them I had signed with boys names from the age of about four or five. This was something that I had known since I was a very young child.”
Working as a filmmaker and actor, Jake has made films highlighting the experiences of transgender people; he also had a small part in The Danish Girl, starring Eddie Redmayne and plays Gaston de Caillavet in current film Colette, which stars Keira Knightly and Dominic West. Jake hopes that these stories – as well as his and Hannah’s own experiences - will shine a positive light on the transgender community and show that he and his wife are just like any other couple hoping to start a family.
Jake said: “If you just look at the vast array and diversity within the trans community of people who are filmmakers and army captains, and writers and creators and doctors and nurses and policemen, surely you must, as a reasonable person, be able to look and realise that we are just like anyone else.
“There was just something that wasn’t quite right with our gender and our physical bodies when we were born and we had to realign those in order to live happy lives and I honestly don’t understand the fear and the judgment that is cast upon trans people and I think that it can only come from ignorance.
“People are scared of what they don’t understand and hopefully some time soon there will come a time when people will understand us and if they don’t understand us then at least they will accept us.”