IT IS MUCH easier to hate the unknown. It could be a place, a religion, a group or even a person. Ignorance will always breed fear and apprehension; disinformation will stoke divide and can visit a very real hysteria those who hear it. And the deeper this mistrust goes, the harder it can be to bridge a gap and reach a new understanding.

But, of course, the flip side is equally true. Someone or something that is loved, respected, valued or even just understood is not as simple. Once the fears are quashed, once the uncertainty is removed, there is no reason to feel animosity. This is, at least, the theory.

Carrie Marshall is trans. She was born a man. She is now a woman.

This truth is important to her, but it is not all she is. Carrie is a father of two and an enthusiastic dog owner. She is a lover of pop music and fronts the award-nominated band HAVR, based in Glasgow where she stays. She is also a writer and later this year will release a book about her journey called Carrie Kills a Man.

By living her life, playing her music and telling her story, she wants to change the narrative around trans people. Too often, information about the trans community is framed with wanton negativity. There are few who have a public voice; there are few given the chance to address concerns raised in the public discourse. There are few.

While the debate rages on, it has become important for Marshall to help the public better understand trans people. If she can chip away at that barrier, then perhaps the concerns of the trans community would not be greeted with confusion, or dismissal, or aggression.

"You tend to hear a lot about trans people – but you never really hear from us," Marshall tells The Weekender.

"Being trans is brilliant; there is so much joy there, and a lot of wonderful stuff that comes along with it. But I also came out as trans just at the beginning of the worst anti-trans moral panic in living memory. So, since coming out, every day I have read something about how trans people are dangerous or mentally ill and banned from things.

"One thing I want to do with this book is to humanise that. To let people understand that we're just the same as everybody else. And it would be nice if people would talk to us and not about us for a little bit."

Discussions surrounding trans people can range from mildly hostile to downright abusive. Even by proxy, it is a battleground for clashing ideologies. The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill is making its way through Holyrood at present and seeks to remove roadblocks for trans people to obtain legal recognition.

The legal provisions that protect trans people are contained in the Equality Act 2010. No changes to these protections are being proposed. Nevertheless, the debate continues over rights for trans people, and the freedom to self-identify as whatever gender or sexuality is most appropriate.

"Most people are not trans – most people are not gender non-conforming," Marshall goes on. "But we have this whole system where we have taken the amazing variety of humanity and decided: 'Here are two boxes, get in one'.

"On top of that, we have these rules as well: Boys don't cry, boys can't dance or be flamboyant. I really don't mind if you want to stick to any rules, that's fine, but it can be damaging for some. I have lost friends to mental illness and to sadness because the world was not working for them – the world we had was not taking care of these guys.

"A lot of what we have comes from a bunch of guys sitting down at some point and deciding the rules. You hear about 'cracking down on gender non-conformity' all the time – I mean, wow, can you imagine if we let people be happy?

"I grew up in Ayrshire, in the era of s.28. I was policed as a teenager over this sort of thing. Boys were not to show any trace of femininity. If boys want to do ballet, then let them."

She adds: "In my case, it's not just about wanting to change the rules – it was a fundamental disconnect between the body I was in and how I know myself to be. Most people don't have that, but it doesn't mean we have to lock everybody down in this rigid, Victorian idea. We are much more fun than that; there is much more possibility than that. The world can be an amazing place with amazing people, and we should experience that more.

"We are not here for a long time and it's terrible that some people are made to feel like they have to be someone they are not… just to suit other people. One thing I want people to get from my book is that we don't want to be tolerated – we want to celebrate, just like anybody else. We are all Jock Tamson's bairns; we are all just here on this same rock and we're trying to have as good a life as we can."

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: HAVRHAVR (Image: HAVR)

That life, for trans people, is hard-fought. A few years ago, Marshall "threw a hand grenade" into her life, with all those around her braced for its shockwave. Indeed, the idea that any person coming out as trans has somehow made a snap decision is surely belied by the devastation it can cause to themselves and to loved ones. Especially loved ones. No one takes such steps lightly.

For Marshall, it was decades in the making. The creeping feeling of discontent, the gnawing complaint of melancholy… something had always been wrong. The world was pale and miserable, yet everyone else would bask in the same warming hue that gave life such vibrance. They were happy because they lived as their true selves; they had no reason not to.

"I knew I was weird when I was about six years old," Marshall says, "but I didn't put it all together until I was 44. As far as I was concerned, there were no people like me…in the world. And because I didn't realise there could be people like me, I just figured I was broken. As a result, whenever I saw signs of who I really was coming out, I just stomped down on that really, really hard.

"But being trans is a little bit like being the Terminator in that when you think you've gotten rid of it, suddenly, something like a hand just bursts out of the ground and starts chasing you again. I remember coming to the point – like a fork in the road – and I could either face up to the facts or just not stick around on earth any longer. I was at the point where I was losing it."

The immeasurable weight of misery was unrelenting. It was accompanied by a growing frustration – why were other people happy? How can I be happy?

Marshall thinks back to what was the early days of online photo sharing and remembers seeing other people in the process of transitioning. It was something that she couldn't get out of her head. Something joyous and comforting was blooming.

Marshall adds: "What struck me is that they looked happy. The before photos, not so much. It really struck me, and I started to wonder if that would be possible for me. Previously, it was just me looking at these people who were transitioning and I thought that this had nothing to do with me and that I was just a weirdo. But, then, this crack gets into the wall you've built around it all and then you start to wonder: Why you are so interested in this if you are so cis-gender? What's so appealing about this?

"I understood myself to be cis-gender and straight, but I began to think that I might not be quite as cis-gender as other people. I think it's important to stress that I didn't even have the language for any of this. At the time, in my 20s, there were only two 'T-words' – transvestite and transexual. And I knew that I wasn't really either. We didn't talk about trans people back then, we didn't have language for a lot of it, all we had was weirdos and I didn't want to be a weirdo."

And, so, life goes on. Marshall played the role she was assigned and later got married and had children. The career, the holidays, the house, the kitchen, the gadgets, the garden – each another brick in the wall built up to hide a dormant truth.

Marshall reflects: "I think when people are deciding to come out – there is a cost of coming out against the benefits, or maybe it's the cost of coming out against the cost of not coming out. I was actively planning to kill myself and that's a pretty big motivator to change the path that you are on.

"To begin with, I was really sad all the time and I didn't know why. In the video game sense, I felt like a non-player character. I felt like someone else had scripted it and that I was just toodling on down the pre-defined paths that had been created for me. I didn't feel like I was driving the bus, for want of a better phrase.

"That disconnect seems to be quite common among trans people – this dissociation where you feel like you are playing a part, rather than being your true self. So, for instance, I didn't date for a very long time because I felt that if people had found out who I really was then that would be the end of it, and I didn't want that heartbreak."

"A few years later," she continues. "I had become a parent and had the perfect suburban life with Jamie Oliver cookbooks, kitchen gadgets and holidays. But I was terribly, terribly sad. I felt I was letting my wife down and letting my kids down. I went to get treatment, which worked very briefly, and then it came back again like a freight train.

"I realised that I was sad as a symptom. And the reason I was sad was that I was trying to hold things together that I could not hold together anymore. I did that cost-benefit thing and came to the conclusion that I did not have a choice anymore. It was scary, particularly that late in life. I had a wife and a job and good family relationships, and you do worry that when you come out you will lose all of that.

"There is no doubt that you do lose a lot when you come out, but I've been lucky in that I've been able to gain a lot as well. For instance, my marriage broke up, but we have a very good relationship. We co-parent and she's very happy, she's married a nice guy. It's not what we had before, but she did not marry a woman – there's only so much you can do about that.

"About half of relationships survive when a trans person comes out. For the ones that don't, it's not anyone's fault. Things just are not the same. If my wife had come out as a trans man, I would have found that hard. And it's important that we talk about that as well because when you are in a relationship like that and one person comes out then you all come out.

"I didn't realise that. I came out on Radio Scotland and I didn't think that people that we knew would hear it, but, of course, people did. My wife started getting Facebook messages, ostensibly offering support but really just digging for goss. We lost a few friends as a result. So, don't do that – if you're ever coming out, don't do it on national radio. That's my top tip."


HAVR is a three-piece based in Glasgow made up of by Carrie Marshall, Kenny Martin and David Marshall

HAVR is a three-piece based in Glasgow made up of by Carrie Marshall, Kenny Martin and David Marshall


There would have been some hope that coming out was the end of the road and that all the uncertainty would quickly subside. But for Marshall it was the start of something completely new. At the time, Marshall identified as non-binary in that she felt neither male nor female. But it wasn't until she started to present herself to the world that a true sense of self was discovered. A truth, a genuine peace, she began to recognise herself.

"Whenever I presented as a female, I felt a calm that I never felt when I was a guy. It's hard to explain. It was just that incredible, boring normality of it all. Finally, being able to feel normal."

She adds: "Before presenting as a woman, I remember Eddie Izzard helped blow the doors of the closet – she did a routine where she talked about it and said she wasn't one of those 'weirdo' transvestites, she was one of those 'executive' transvestites where she would travel the world, go to art shows and wear nice shoes. I thought that was great, I just felt: 'That's me!' But, as with Eddie, it turned out that rabbit hole went a lot deeper than I first realised. But, at least at that time, I felt like Eddie Izzard and that was really helpful.

"It was only that, as I got older, that I realised that it was a lot more fundamental than that. You don't really know until you live it. When I first came out, I thought I was non-binary and I could just change my gender presentation a little and I'd be happy. When I started presenting as 'me' all the time – everything just felt right. When I go through the world as a woman and I am treated as such, everything just feels normal, and everything else feels really weird.

"So, it was only after I came out that I started to understand that I was properly trans. At first, I was clinging to this non-binary thing. But going through the world as 'me' made me see. I spent my whole life trying not to be any of these things because I was told that trans people were weirdos – no one wants that. I just wanted a quiet life."

Coming to terms with a different sexuality can be daunting for anyone. The myriad of terms can be overwhelming, and a person's journey may well be indirect and messy.

"It's all just labels," Marshall posits. "We use labels to simplify what is really a complicated and amazing thing. Some people might be straight in their teens, experiment in their 20s, and then find after that they are gay, bi-sexual, pan-sexual or asexual – that's good, finding out who you are is good.

"Everything is a spectrum – for instance, we don't have 'tall' and 'short'. There is a bimodal distribution and most people are either on one side, with some overlap. If you take sexuality, for example, I like women but if it was 1997 and Michael Stipe from REM turns up with six cans of cider then I am absolutely going for it."


Havr is a three-piece based in Glasgow, fronted by Carrie Marshall

Havr is a three-piece based in Glasgow, fronted by Carrie Marshall


Later this year, Marshall will release her memoir Carrie Kills a Man via 404 Ink. Her story will be very different from that of others who are transitioning, but it is likely to contain a few universal truths that most trans people will share. The hope is that the trans community will be seen for what they are and not what they are sometimes portrayed as in certain publications – on certain social media platforms.

Indeed, for Marshall, the online world is pretty far removed from the everyday experience. That hostility she and other trans people can face on the likes of Twitter or Facebook is extreme and unusual, but it is also very visible. As such, the language used can shape the discourse and skew reality. Those simply paying attention to boisterous exchanges might not be getting the full picture.

Marshall says: "People are fundamentally good, I have found. When I am out in the world, people are great – it's when you are on Twitter, and certain websites that attract certain types of people, that you become convinced that everyone absolutely hates you.

"Transphobia rots your brain. It demonstrably does. When people say something transphobic on Twitter they get 'love-bombed' by other transphobes. You then get a few people who challenge them [angrily] and they form the view that trans people are unreasonable and all the people who hate trans people are the good guys. And it becomes this self-fulfilling thing.

"I won't name names but if you find of these people – including some very litigious celebrities – and if you look at who they follow, it is wall-to-wall bigotry. And if that's their only source of information then you've lost them.

"I don't want to be talking about being trans," she adds. "I want to talk about my love of pop music; about having way too many guitars and being a dog mum and all the rest of it. But we're in a situation now where, in order to exist, we need to understand the law, endocrinology, prison policy, and education just to get through the day. But then you go on Twitter for five minutes and you find people aren't going to change their minds anyway.

"This is the thing with online radicalisation – it is much easier to prevent people from becoming radicalised in the first place than it is to get them out of that hole once they've gone down it. No one wants to admit they are wrong. No one turns around and thinks: 'Actually, I'm the bad guy'. We become too invested in it."


Havr is a three-piece based in Glasgow, fronted by Carrie Marshall

Havr is a three-piece based in Glasgow, fronted by Carrie Marshall


From Marshall's point of view, there are undoubtedly some who are actively campaigning against trans people. The reason for this is sheer blind hatred and a desire to deny rights to the trans community. This ultra-right-wing agenda began to proliferate over the last few years, but appears to have metastasised more recently. It can find allies and enablers in more centrist groups and even some mainstream political parties.

The "right-wing playbook" has been deployed countless times before, Marshall argues. The trans community is simply the current target. To do this they have to find a wedge – a way in.

Currently, the divide in the trans rights debate is not clear-cut. Not everyone is one camp or the other. Some support rights for trans people but will harbour some reservations. The situation is, of course, incredibly complex and public knowledge is improving slowly. The result, however, is that there is a void that can be exploited by those wishing to keep the two sides apart for political gain.

She says: "Most people are subject to an astonishing amount of misinformation and disinformation about trans people. In many cases, it's completely fraudulent. But I do understand why a lot of people are concerned, because if you were to believe everything you read about us in the press then we are 'trying to persuade kids to be trans' and we are 'suddenly identifying as trans in order to dominate sports' – and the fact these things are not true doesn't stop people from worrying about it.

"We had all the sport outrage before in the 1970s when Renée Richards became the first 'out' transgender tennis player. We heard how trans people were going to dominate sport – it didn't happen. The Olympics has allowed trans athletes for 16-odd years and there has never been a trans gold medallist.

"Cis-gender women have very good reasons to be scared of men. And they are told that trans women are men, so, from that point of view, of course they are going to be scared. But one point I want to get across in the book is that is not who we are; being trans is not a thing put on and off. It's not a costume.

"This is not something any of us do lightly. It can have incredible consequences for us. In my own case, I fought it for 30 years and I'm six years into transition and I am still really scared and unsure about a lot of things.

"In a toilet? We are like spiders…we are far more scared of you than you are of us. In fact, we are more likely to be the victim of assault, and more likely to be attacked for being who we are, because we don't 'fit'. You look at someone like me, I am never going to be mistaken for Audrey Hepburn, or even Cilla Black, and that means I am very visibly different and in a climate where people are told I am a monster and that I am a threat to your kids, I am a threat to your women. This is the right-wing playbook all over again."


Picture by Eoin Carey

Picture by Eoin Carey


For Marshall, the right-wing gambit has been around for generations, and she remembers its use for other groups in the past. Crucially, she notes how the trans community is often elevated in certain sections of the media to a position of real influence in a bid to heighten an already entrenched moral panic. This, she feels, is quite ridiculous when compared to the reality.

"Demonisation of the 'other' is the oldest trick in the book," she says. "It's a distraction. Tell those who don't have much that these people over here are coming for what you've got. Find a scapegoat; these people are the problem and not us.

"It's The Great Replacement Theory. It used to be people of colour, or people of a different religion, and that they are going to come and replace you in your country. That's happening with trans people now – it'll go something like 'we're going to stop your kids from being fertile, or 'there are not going to be enough straight babies anymore and that's how the trans lobby is going to win'. We don't want to win; we just want peace and quiet and snacks.

"We are a small number, and we will always be a small number. I spent most of my life trying to be trans and it didn't work, and we can't persuade you to be trans when you are not. But we can do is look after the small number of trans people that are here – which is about half a per cent of the population. So, to put that into more vivid terms, if trans people and the Brownies were to go war, then the Brownies would absolutely kick our a**e, just out of sheer strength in numbers.

"But, really, it's something that tends to get missed in this debate. We are portrayed as this massive power block when we're anything but. Name one trans politician, name one trans judge. I think there is one trans councillor in Scotland – we're hardly running the country.

"We are not an ideology; we are not a plaque; we are not a contagion or a fad, or anything else. We are just ordinary people who are just slightly different, and in a way that doesn't really matter to anyone but us."

Marshall continues: "What frustrates me is that by making trans people a debate we are not talking about other things that matter. It's a distraction. We're not coming for your kids, we're not trying to ban the word woman, we are not any of the things we are accused of in some of the more imaginative parts of the press.

"What we care about, fundamentally, is healthcare. When I self-referred to the gender clinic, it was an 11-month wait. It is now the better part of four years. And there are parts of England where your first appointment – and that's not treatment, it's just to meet with your doctor – will be 26 years. There are people who are going to die on waiting lists for healthcare that we know is life-changing and that we know is lifesaving.

"We have all this drama about 'kids being rushed into surgery' – no kids get surgery in Britain. This idea that we are putting hundreds of kids onto puberty blockers… I think the total last year was six in the whole of Scotland.

"There is a real problem with healthcare here, because it is broken. It is based on the idea that trans people are all crazy – which we're not, this has been proved by the medical establishment – and that they need to do everything they can to stop us from transitioning and that only the most determined would get through. That is broken."

Carrie Kills a Man will be released via 404 Ink in the near future. Visit for updates.