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Empathy and the Transgender Experience with Hannah Ford Morgan

Updated: Apr 23


Episode 36 - The Professional Empathy Podcast

Empathy and the Transgender Experience with Hannah Ford Morgan

Listen on Podomatic or on your favourite podcast platform (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google)

In this thought-provoking episode of the Professional Empathy Podcast, Leanne Butterworth engages in a candid conversation with Hannah Ford Morgan, a tabletop game designer and a courageous advocate for the transgender community. Hannah openly shares her personal experiences and insights of her transition journey. Her story sheds light on the challenges and triumphs faced by transgender individuals. They discuss the power of empathy in addressing these challenges and how it can transform anger into productive collaboration. Together, they illustrate the potential for change and inclusivity while navigating the transgender experience in a professional landscape. Join them for an inspiring discussion on empathy, transformation, and building bridges in this heartfelt episode.

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Full Episode (The video is audio-only).

Key Messages:

1. Embrace Self-Exploration: Hannah emphasises the importance of self-exploration and being open to trying new things to discover one's true identity. The journey may be challenging, but it leads to greater self-understanding and alignment.

2. Normalise Conversations: Creating an open and accepting environment for conversations about gender identity is crucial. Normalising discussions helps build empathy and understanding, making it easier for individuals to express themselves.

3. Fear and Acceptance: Acknowledge and address fears, both personal and societal, related to gender identity. The hope is for a future where acceptance overpowers fear, making gender diversity a seamless part of life.

4. Empathy in Communication: This episode underscores the importance of empathy in communication. When discussing topics related to gender identity, being understanding and willing to correct mistakes fosters a more supportive environment.

5. Authenticity and Happiness: Pursuing authenticity, even when faced with societal expectations or potential challenges, is key to long-term happiness. The interview suggests that short-term difficulties in the journey towards self-discovery and acceptance are outweighed by the overall benefits of living authentically.

Show Summary:

Show Notes

Part 1

In this podcast episode, host Leanne Butterworth discusses empathy and the transgender experience with guest Hannah Ford Morgan, the founder and lead producer of Guild Master Games. Hannah shares her journey as a transgender woman, discussing the mismatch between her external appearance and internal identity. She reflects on her experiences transitioning in various contexts, including academia, the professional world, and the gaming community. The conversation delves into the challenges and nuances of being transgender, highlighting the importance of language and understanding.

Part 2

In this segment, we discuss the complexity of the transgender experience. Hannah shares her realisation of experiencing dysphoria and the process of unraveling stereotypical masculine behaviours to reveal her true identity. The conversation dispels common misperceptions, emphasising that the transgender journey is not a sudden decision but a profound and personal exploration. Hannah also touches on the diversity within the transgender community, highlighting that individual experiences vary widely. She acknowledges the importance of not generalising the transgender experience and discuss the use of terminology, recognising that it's a subjective and varied aspect. The conversation underscores the need for understanding and sensitivity when discussing transgender issues.

Part 3

In this segment, Hannah discusses the stages of her transgender journey. She breaks it down into five stages, starting with hints and a desire to wear more feminine clothes, followed by experimenting with minor reversible changes like painting nails and using makeup. The third stage involves more permanent but easily reversible changes, such as changing hair colour and experimenting with a new name. Hannah then moves on to the fourth stage, which includes more permanent changes like legally changing her name and starting hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for physical changes. The fifth stage involves considering additional permanent changes, such as surgery. Hannah emphasises that the process is not a choice but an acceptance of her true self. She also explains that HRT affects physical, mental, and emotional aspects, with the maximum effects expected after 18 months.

Part 4

In part 4 Hannah shares her experiences with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and the changes she has noticed, both physically and emotionally. She discusses the increase in emotionality, changes in taste, and the softening of her skin. Hannah reflects on the societal challenges and prejudices women face, expressing how she now encounters them as a fully formed identity. Professionally, she notes a shift in business opportunities based on close interpersonal connections. Personally, Hannah discusses newfound confidence in her dating life and the evolving nature of her attractions. She emphasises the acceptance and support she has received from friends and the professional community, describing the overall positive reactions to her transition.

Part 5

Hannah then discusses the professional and personal reactions to her gender transition. She shares an anecdote about unknowingly using her new name in professional emails for two months and how colleagues accepted the change. In terms of personal relationships, Hannah feared rejection and was concerned about losing her job, clients, and friends. She expressed gratitude for the support she received and mentioned the dissolution of some friendships. Additionally, she opened up about the challenges she faced during the transition, including moments of sadness and suicidal thoughts. Hannah reflects on her evolving emotions, stating that while it hasn't always been easy, overall, she is happier and more authentic. She also touches on the impact of transitioning on her children, emphasising that it is just one of many changes in their lives.

Part 6

In this part of the conversation we discuss the use of language and terminology related to gender identity. Hannah explains her preference for being called "mom" by her children and shares that it's a recent realisation. She emphasises that if someone unintentionally uses her previous name or pronouns, a simple correction or apology is sufficient, and there's no need for extensive guilt or justification. The concept of "deadnaming" is introduced, referring to the use of a person's previous name, either accidentally or intentionally. Hannah acknowledges that navigating these terms and discussions is a learning process for both her and others. The conversation touches on deliberate actions by certain media personalities to use deadnames and misgender individuals, exploring the motivations behind such actions and the impact on the transgender community.


Finally, I thank Hannah for sharing her story on the podcast. We discuss the importance of having open conversations to increase understanding and empathy. The podcast's goal is to shed light on various professions and experiences to promote acceptance and learning. The conversation touches on the challenges faced by those who may not have a supportive environment, emphasising the need for broader acceptance and understanding.

Hannah discusses the positive impact of having support during her journey and how it contributed to her overall well-being. We explore the idea that increased knowledge and acceptance can lead to more open conversations and eventually make these issues less challenging for individuals. We touch on the complexities of societal changes related to gender identity and the potential impact on relationships and happiness.

Learn more about Empathy First at


Hi! I'm Leanne Butterworth, Empathy Passionista, TEDx Speaker, University Lecturer and Mental Health Advocate.

Empathy First is a Brisbane-based social enterprise offering Empathy workshops, online courses and individual Empathy coaching to help you build connection and strengthen your relationships for personal and professional success.

Contact me today and let's talk about how you can put Empathy First.

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