When HELLO! catches up with Jake and Hannah Graf, they are in the middle of a toothbrushing tussle with their three-year-old daughter Millie, who is steadfastly refusing to go to bed. Yet their one-year-old daughter, Teddie, is snoozing in her cot. So far, so “normal”; except theirs is an extraordinary family. The Grafs are arguably Britain’s most high-profile trans couple, a position they carry with responsibility.
It’s one of the reasons why they decided to write a book, Becoming Us: A Story of Transgender Love, Joy and Family, about their remarkable experiences. Six years into his transition, knowing one day that he’d like to be a parent, filmmaker and actor Jake stopped testosterone for six months and had his eggs harvested, fertilised by donor sperm and the embryos frozen.
After marrying Hannah, a former captain with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers – one of the army’s highest-ranking transgender soldiers – the couple found a surrogate who would go on to carry both their daughters. Their journey to become parents to Millie was recounted in the Channel 4 documentary Our Baby: A Modern Miracle in 2020. But while it was enlightening and fascinating, both felt they had more to say.
“When [it came out], we were amazed that we received nothing except positivity,” says Jake, settling next to Hannah on the sofa in their South London flat. “It was very encouraging how much love and support we received. But the book feels so revealing and permanent. Everyone talks about trans people, but there are no human stories. All we see are sweeping generalisations, misinformation and fabrication. I know about the power of storytelling from my film-making and we’ve got this story to tell… to change public opinion and make it easier for the next generation of trans kids, who hopefully won’t have as tough a time as we did.”
As a couple, they “balance each other quite well”, says Jake, and feel lucky to have found each other and share the same values, especially when it comes to raising their daughters. “We want them to be happy, and hope they’ll grow up without any of the difficulties [we had],” says Jake. “Whoever they are – or whatever they are – we will support and love them regardless, because that’s what parenting is all about.” They will explain to Millie and Teddie how they came into the world “in an age-appropriate way” at the right time, says Hannah. “The things we had to do to bring those girls into the world, no one can ever say they’re not wanted. We put our entire lives aside to find a way to bring them to us.”
Becoming Us: A Story of Transgender Love, Joy and Family. (Coronet, £22) is out on 29 July.