Episode 5

Published on:

19th Feb 2020

Hannah Rose - Listen to trans people - 005

In this episode of Queers & Co., I’m joined by Hannah Rose, a non-binary trans woman of colour and London-based activist and event organiser.

We chat about activism, marrying three men and a dog, the lack of trans POC representation, procrastinating as a form of self-care, how to create safe and supportive community events, how to be a better ally to trans folks and some of the hottest events on the London queer scene.

If you haven't already, be sure to join our Facebook community to connect with other like-minded queer folks and allies.

Find out more about Gem Kennedy and Queers & Co.

Podcast Artwork by Gemma D’Souza


Hannah Rose’s Instagram

Book recommendation: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Rick Riordan

London Bi Panda’s Three men and a dog wedding action

LGSM - Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants

London Bi Pandas website

London Bi Pandas Instagram and recent campaign, 50 Ways to Leave your TERFer

The Outside Project

Aisha Mirza’s Instagram

Mental health collective and sober club night, Misery

Queer Masala food popups

Healthy Filth plant-based catering

YouTube channel, Trans 101

Travis Alabanza’s article, “Why does every achievement have to be a ‘first’ to matter?”

Other nights in London: Them Fatale, Inferno, Crossbreed, Pxssy Palace, Bar Wotever

Full Transcription

Gem: Hi Hannah. How are you?

Hannah: Good, thank you.

Gem: Thanks so much for taking part. So if anyone who hasn't come across your work before, it'd be really great if you could introduce yourself and a bit about what you do.

Hannah: Yeah, sure. So I'm Hannah Rose, I'm German-born, London-based, Iraqi, trans non-binary, woman of colour, neurodivergent. I think that's all the intersectionalities so it's a long list and it's quite a struggle. I do a lot of work in organising activism and queer spaces here in London, and in some other places like occasionally Berlin and yeah, my goal in London right now is just to help the queer community as much as possible and bring as much positive political change about as I can.

Gem: Yeah. And how did you get into and be involved in activism?

Hannah: So, it all started with Bi Pandas actually. Bi Pandas is this London based group. They started off last year. They were at pride when Monroe, who's quite a prominent drag performer and use to be a DJ. I was like, Hey, there's no proper bisexual representation, actual queer, bisexual representation at pride. Let's change that. And them and their partner Max, they did so, so, so much work. And spent so much money on getting a float for Pride. And it was just amazing. It was the most queer thing. The pictures from there are so amazing. We're going to do the same thing this year. So you'll see us around pride. And, Monroe was looking on the Bi Pandas page, they were running a visual for queer and specifically bisexual refugees, and I am a queer refugee, and I'm a child of two refugees, and they were looking for speakers and I didn't do too much public speaking before that, I use to do theatre so I use to talking to big crowds but I never did much political speaking. But I was like, yeah, sure, I'd like to do that. And I wrote something up and I don't know why, but I think I just had like, I don't want to play myself up too much, but I think I just had a natural talent for writing speeches because it was honestly a very, very moving speech because obviously it's issues very much related to me, made multiple people cry, which I think is a good guideline on how good the speech was, how many people did you make cry? And people loved it. [inaudible] especially as I said, that speech was amazing. Phew. LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants) were like "Oh you should speak more" And it’s kind of just escalated from there. Just trying and more groups. Got more opportunities to speak. People started actually knowing me and inviting me to things to speak there, like here. And I just love it. Like I just left preparing it. I just love putting all my heart and soul into speaking these words. Convincing people and making people emotional.

Gem: So, it's really not long at all. Like it's not even a year since you've been doing that? I didn't realise.

Hannah: I moved to London four months ago.

Gem: Oh really? I thought you'd been in London for much longer than that? Okay. Wow. So this is all really recent then?

Hannah: Yeah, I'm very quick and everything.

Gem: Yeah. Very efficient. Clearly. So what's that been like for you? Such a kind of rapid change and increase in doing all this political work?

Hannah: So back in Germany. I did help out. I used to live in West Germany. In a town called Essen, it's near Dusseldorf. It was like 500,000 people town, so not too big. And I did work with the local, LGBT groups there. We did a little thing for our pride parade, a little tiny float with a speaker. So, I wasn't completely new to it exactly, but my life did change a lot in like the last year. My political opinions, I don't want to say use I had bad political opinions, but I did.

Gem: I think we all did at one point until we realised otherwise, right?

Hannah: So, that's changed a lot and I've always advocated a lot online. On social media and chat groups, about my political stances. And this was just kind of bringing it on paper and then bringing it, using my voice. And obviously the theatre actually helped quite a lot because speeches have a lot of similarities to acting.

Gem: Yeah, absolutely. And I don't want to spoil for anyone what might be in your speech if they go and watch you. But I wonder if you could share maybe like the main themes that you talk about when you give speeches.

Hannah: The last one I did it made the news quite a bit. It was 'the three men and a dog wedding' by lesbians and gays support the migrants. So there was this Boris Johnson quote , about yeah, gist of it was, Boris Johnson said that if we start letting same sex couples get married, we might as well let three men and a dog get married. So that's exactly what we did. So we got a whole band to play wedding songs. We got a dog and three guys, one wearing a Boris Johnson mask. We got a pagan Satanist priest to commemorate the entire wedding and we wed those three men and a dog and then we walked down Downing street and we stand at the Tory HQ and then marched down Downing street, block the streets off there and then did speeches there. So, I did a speech there for LGSM and a bunch of other people from Bi Pandas who did speeches there. And that was basically about being trans in this country and how it affects me. How the whole Brexit thing is affecting me. Just talking about how hard it is to get hormones here. How the UK ignores my German trans diagnosis. How I might get kicked out of the country or not get hormones anymore after Brexit. Because there aren't a lot of trans women around in activism, sadly, a few prominent ones are, obviously a lot of people have heard about Lucia Blake, Emily Cricket, two of them, they did trans pride, they do quite a lot of stuff. But you don't see a lot of activists. You don't see a lot of trans women around in a lot of cycles, sadly. So I always try and put that at the centre front, the trans experience, and to talk about and to educate people about it. I think that's the most important thing right now because that's the most important thing I can do because there's just not enough trans voices out there.

Gem: Yeah, and when you said that those speeches are really well received, I guess when people from the community are around. So like London Bi Pandas people, for example, who are awesome. How have your speeches travelled further than that? And what has their reaction been to that?

Hannah: So I did, as I'm sure a lot of you still remember, the LGB Alliance, when that started out, we did quite a big protest called LGBT with a T, and I did a massive speech there, which is like, I personally think it's my best work. I'm extremely proud of it and it's basically about how we need to stick together. How trans woman started the started queer rights. The first brick was thrown by a trans woman of colour. And that made it on to Diva mag, which is quite a big lesbian magazine. It made the rounds on Twitter and people were destroying me. Like people hated me. I didn't mind in all honestly, I thought it was quite funny because the picture of me was, I held a sign that Monroe made, which said, 'too cute to be cis' and people were very annoyed. They were like "Oh, this is cis- phobic". "This is horrible". And like just mis-gendering me and calling me tons of names. I didn't know about it. One of my friends from the Netherlands of all places was like, "Hey, I saw you on Twitter. People are really shitting on you. Other than that, most of the speakers I do, which I think is also a problem is, in front of other queer people that already agree with me, so preaching to the choir, obviously, but that's not always the point. The point is also to inspire people. I am speaking, I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say it, but I'm speaking at citizens advice in two weeks. I'm giving a speech on trans activism and activism in general, so we'll see how the reception there's going to be. They've been great, honestly. Like they were asking for my fee and I named a quite cheap, like 40 quid and they were like, "Oh no, we usually pay people way more, let's pay you that" And I'm like, Yes please. Other than that, I haven't had much negativity surrounding it. Obviously it's always going to be critics, but this is a pretty good community in London.

Gem: So, I know you said that that it didn't bother you so much and hopefully I think quite often when we're doing activism, people try not to read the comments anyway. Right? Cause it can be pretty soul destroying. With that in mind, like how do you look after yourself and I guess it's not just looking off yourself when there's negativity from people outside of the queer community, but in terms of doing your activism and getting the energy for those big speeches that you're delivering, how do you prepare for those and make sure that you navigate or try and navigate burnout in some way?

Hannah: Honestly, my speeches, I think it's just procrastinating. I feel like procrastinating is a form of self-care, a good amount of speeches I have just like a finished writing while we're setting up or on the train there. A very good amount. If I'm getting paid for something, I will take a week or two weeks beforehand to prepare and research, But if it's something like Bi Panda so are one of my groups, then I'm just kind of going to wing it because these are very emotional topics, and the approach that I go with speeches is just put emotions in and use good rhetoric. So make it interesting, make it captivating, not make it too long. So, I don't worry too much about my speeches, which is I guess part of self-care and sometimes just taking a break. So I've, I'm doing, the London Bi Panda float for pride, probably going to be doing stuff for trans pride this year too, and talk to people about that. So I've been taking a break off some other groups. I've been taking a break from leftist organising, so Antifa and that sort of group after taking a break from that and I've been going to meetings. It is allowing yourself too rest. So I know I know Monroe works a lot on activism. What they try and do is just live the most comfortable life they can outside of the activism and then go very hard on the activism. So hence sleep, treat yourself to some food, treat yourself to Uber back home, but then also spend four hours a day on activism. I think I'm quite resilient in terms of how much work I can do and how much stuff I can take. So people always say I have quite a lot of energy, which just seems to be correct. I can manage to do quite a lot of stuff without burning out.

Gem: So, we actually spoke to, and people would who know Monroe under their Bae Sharam name. I interviewed Monroe last year for the zine. So if anyone's wondering or wanting to find out more about Monroe, then they can go and look in zine two and they'll find out all about them.

Hannah: Monroe is a great and amazing person.

Gem: So, we've talked a bit about self-care, and it sounds as though you're getting this not only for yourself. Self-care is really important, but you organise these amazing other events where mental health and self-care is a big part of those. It'd be great to hear about those as well.

Hannah: Let's talk a bit about self-care at the protest themselves. For the LGB with the T one, we had the outside project at the outside project is an amazing group led by a few friends of mine here in London. They do a weekly sober meet up event. It might be monthly. They provided accessibility and ramps and they provided noise cancelling headphones. In case the noise and people got too much for someone. They could just have noise cancelling headphones and talk one of our welfare officers. So you had a bunch of welfare officers walking around and wearing hi-vis vests that are purple. So I was one of them, so people could just come up to me and be like, "Hey, I'm not feeling great" and we'd just go off to the side. I had water with me. I had oranges that I was giving out. Um, little easy peelers. I loved doing that everywhere. Water's a very important one, especially in the coming months when it's getting hotter. You just need to have water and be giving that out constantly. So, about the events I run, I help run an event called 'misery', which was started by the amazing, amazing Aisha Mirza or @uglyinahotway on Instagram. It started out, them and a friend were like, "I wish I could go out to places more, but I feel like I don't fit in anywhere" And it's like, okay, let's make a space where we fit in then because there's not a lot of queer POC spaces and that's especially no queer POC, sober spaces. So what we focus on is, on a sober aspect, the POC thing and then mental health is a big part. People always love the parties. They always say they can they just feel so comfortable there and like they can be their authentic selves because we don't pressure people to do anything. So a lot of other club nights, always the focus is on dancing is always also quite a big flirting thing, which can make some people feel uncomfortable. Obviously we have DJs, we have a dance floor, but we have so much other stuff. So the most amazing part, what I think is we have a therapist right on site, a trained therapist, who's also queer and POC. And you can book a free a half hour session with them to talk about whatever you like to talk about. Any problems you might be having, completely free of charge. I should also mention that the event is completely free of charge. It's completely based on donations. So if you have the money to give, help us run it, then amazing. But if you don't have the money that you can just come anyway. We have activities. So last time we did it at the yard, at the art theatre, if you know the venue? We had an art corner so we had a little thing of suggestions of stuff you can draw, And like colouring, and we had a ton of zines around in a reading corner that you can do. We had a friend of ours do nails, pay what you can nails. So it was a sliding scale from like two to ten pounds for getting your nails done, which is incredibly cheap. Tattoos also on a sliding scale. We always serve food. So we usually have 'Queer Masala' which is a queer Indian group of people who make amazing food. Last time we add 'Healthy Filth' who are also queer vegan group. Everything's vegan obviously, who caters food. It's very affordable food compared to anything else you can get here in London. We have chai at every party we've had tea cause you gotta have your tea. I've never seen a party with people walk around with tea. So that's our thing. Obviously we hide all the alcohol. The bar only serves non-alcoholic cocktails and you can do whatever you want. There's no pressure to dance. There's no pressure to socialise. You can just sit there and draw and if that's all you wanted to do on that night, then that's completely okay. Everyone's. always so friendly to you. Like you can just go and sit down with 10 strangers and make 10 completely new, awesome friends.

Gem: That's incredible. And how does it feel to create that kind of space for people?

Hannah: It feels very rewarding. I feel like at this point I enjoy creating spaces more than I actually enjoy going out. I know Aisha loves after the party or the messages we get on Instagram like, "Oh, it was so amazing. Thank you so much for hosting it" And yeah, it's just their self-care, talking about self-care and organising. That's their self-care going through all the messages we get and replying to them and seeing how much people are loving it and just seeing on the night people enjoying themselves. It's...

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About the Podcast

Queers and Co.
A podcast for queer folks and allies on self-empowerment, body liberation and activism.
Hi, I'm Gem! Join me as I chat to queer folks and allies about self-empowerment, body liberation and activism. My guests are at the forefront of change-making, working in areas like fat activism, sex positivity, intersectional feminism, drag/cabaret, LGBTQ+ activism and children's rights.

I'm a transformational coach, activist and founder of the Queers & Co. zine, podcast and community. Through my work, I support LGBTQ+ folks and allies to reclaim their personal power and take up space so that they can impact the world in ways they have only dreamt of.

Find out more about my work: www.gemkennedy.com
Find out more about Queers & Co.: www.gemkennedy.com/queersandco

About your host

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Gem Kennedy

I’m Gem. I'm the founder of the Queers & Co. zine, community and podcast, as well as a transformational coach and activist. I’m also queer, fat positive, an intersectional feminist and Mum to two free-range children.

I help LGBTQ+ folks and allies to reclaim their personal power and take up space so that they can impact the world in ways they have only dreamt of.