Ahead of a documentary charting their extraordinary journey, director and writer Jake Graf has opened up about the difficult – but endlessly rewarding – road to becoming a parent with his wife, Captain Hannah Graf (née Winterbourne).
The couple, who are both transgender, welcomed their first child, a baby girl named Millie, in April during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, two years after they tied the knot.
“As trans people, we are more frequently told what we can’t do, who we can’t be, and what we can’t have, rather than what we can”, says Jake in the Attitude August issue, out now to download and to order globally.
“Growing up, I had no real understanding of what I was or why I felt so alien in my own body, but was fairly sure that I would never find love nor marry, and certainly never thought that I could be a father.”
Jake, who began his transition at the age of 28, decided to have his eggs harvested in an “invasive and painful” procedure to keep the door open to the possibility of becoming a father.
“The clinic told me upfront that they had never treated ‘anyone like me’,” he recalls. “They had no idea if the treatment would work, no statistics nor anecdotal evidence of a trans man harvesting and storing eggs, but kindly offered, at considerable cost, to give it a go.”
In 2018, Jake married former British Army engineer and fellow trans activist Captain Hannah Winterbourne, and together the pair decided to pursue parenthood through surrogacy.
“After many futile months, we were introduced to the National Fertility Society, who, to our great surprise, informed us that they had a potential surrogate who was considering carrying our baby,” says Jake, whose journey towards fatherhood has been documented in Channel 4’s Our Baby: A Modern Miracle, which airs next Tuesday (28 July) at 10pm.
“When Laura showed us the stick through the Skype screen, with two red lines proclaiming her pregnant, Hannah burst into tears. Ever the cynic, I asked her to go and do the test again, only believing what I saw on the second try.
“We all cried then, euphoria mixed with relief and a healthy dose of trepidation at what the next nine months might bring.”
Now with a healthy three-month old baby – and plenty of nappies to change – Jake and Hannah hope their story can serve as a reminder to other LGBTQ people that parenthood remains in their reach.
“Our road to parenthood, though long, was relatively easy”, says Jake. “We know couples who wait years before finding a surrogate, or who suffer endless failed pregnancies, so we feel truly lucky that Millie is here with us.
“Life has changed immeasurably, irreversibly, but absolutely fabulously. Fatherhood is a dream, truly everything I had hoped for, and more, and I tell Millie every single day how much we love her.
“A year ago, I never for a second thought I’d now be a dad, so to all those other parentsto-be who aren’t quite there yet, we say ‘never give up hope’. You just never know what might be around the corner…”