Hannah Winterbourne and Jake Graf should be celebrating their recent nuptials. Instead, they are dealing with some unfortunate headlines about their wedding. The Sun, a British newspaper, ran a feature on the married couple, who are both transgender and have transitioned so that their appearances match their gender identities. Yet, The Sun chose to run the article with some headlines about the trans couple’s wedding that the newlyweds have called “fairly offensive,” “sensationalized,” and “misleading” — and for good reason.
The actual article about Winterbourne and Graf is not offensive; the couple said tthey liked it. But rather than being in tune with the article and using correct terminology to describe the newlyweds, The Sun went with a more tabloid-y headline (which isn’t that out of character for the publication).
In the print version of The Sun, the headline about the trans couple’s wedding read:
“Jake who used to be a woman weds Hannah who was a man.”
It was followed by the equally offensive sub-header “Tran and wife” — a play on the words “man and wife.”
Winterbourne and Graf both tweeted their issues with the headlines — particularly the fact that, regardless of their sexes at birth, they have both always considered themselves to be the genders that their bodies represent today. As Winterbourne wrote:
Graf followed in his wife’s footsteps and tweeted a similar sentiment just minutes later:
Trans acceptance has been (and continues to be) a long struggle, so it would have been beneficial to the LGBTQ community — and society more broadly — if the headline matched the tone of the article, which fully embraced both Winterbourne and Graf for the people they are.
For instance, Winterbourne — who actively serves in the British army — was quoted as saying, “To me, I’m just another girl married to another guy. As you transition and meet someone new you kind of forget about your past.”
And Graf — an actor who was featured in The Danish Girl with Eddie Redmayne — explained how he felt after his transition. “For the first time in my life I was happy to be in my body,” Graf said.
A representative for The Sun responded to Graf and Winterbourne’s criticism of the headlines to Mashable. “We don’t believe anybody could read the piece we’ve published today, or look at the picture of the beaming couple on the front page, and not come away excited and happy for Jake and Hannah’s future,” the spokesperson said. “We have an ongoing relationship with members of the LGBTI community and spoke to one major representative group last night to ensure that our story was received in the spirit it was intended — a celebration of a very modern romance.”
Yet the newlyweds have had many people on the internet supporting them.
While Graf noted he faced difficulties growing up, he also said that most people don’t realize that he and his wife are transgender, which means they don’t face as much scrutiny and harassment from strangers as other trans people do. And now that they are married, they will live in the Army’s married quarters near Winterbourne’s barracks.
Unlike the American president, the U.K. government supports trans people in the military, with the BBC reporting that a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense said, “We are clear that all LGBT members of our armed forces play a vital role in keeping our nation safe. We will continue to welcome people from a diverse range of backgrounds, including transgender personnel.”
It’s reassuring that Winterbourne and her new husband are accepted when it comes to her military service, but these headlines — and some people’s responses to them — prove that there is so much further to go.
The one positive to these headlines is that they have given Graf and Winterbourne even more of a platform to advocate for trans rights. And we hope that the support they have been receiving since their Sun article came out is one of their favorite wedding gifts.