About the project

When the Fifty Shades of Grey book was all the rage, a variety of ‘Fifty Shades’ projects started to emerge.

We had an idea of our own.

Let’s create a book with fifty stories of local gender non-conforming people, to show how much diversity there is in just one place!

At the time, we wanted to call it Fifty Shades of Trans – until a friend suggested we call it Fifty Shades of Gender instead. When we got over the fact that we wanted it to be one syllable (because we’re pedants), we agreed that they had a point 🙂

Now, don’t make assumptions based on the ‘Fifty Shades’ bit. This is not going to be a book full of whips and sex and red rooms of pain – unless that is part of someone’s story.

What it IS going to be is a collection of stories from people in various places in their gender journey and their experiences with family, relationships, mental health, work, and life in general.

After starting the interviews, Esther thought, why not use the audios rather than just have them transcribed for the book? And so, the idea for the podcast was born.

It’s been a while in coming… The first conversation took place in late 2018. It has been picking up momentum, and the podcast went live in July 2020. We hope you’ll join us on this amazing journey.

About the people behind the project

Picture of Esther Lemmens

Esther Lemmens

Project Co-creator
& Podcast Host

Pronouns: she/her

I’m a creator; an artist; a ‘rebel with a cause’. Budding writer and podcaster. Magic maker. Intuitive. Mother of cats.

I’m also a pansexual cis-queer solo polyam, and a dedicated ally to the gender-diverse.

I used to say “I don’t do politics.” What I mean by that is that as a highly sensitive person and empath, I didn’t know HOW to ‘do’ politics in a way that didn’t affect my wellbeing in a negative way.

I can only describe politics in the media as a tennis match of hate. I don’t even want to be in the audience, let alone take part in the game. And as an introvert, being on the front lines, going to demos etc, isn’t my bag, either.

Then I realised, it’s ok to find my own way. We’re not all meant to be on the front lines. We need people in other places too. In ALL places. And no matter how many rallies we go to, if we don’t stand up for ourselves and others in day-to-day situations, it doesn’t mean much anyway.

So this is MY way of ‘doing politics’ in a positive and empowering way that feels aligned to me.

I don’t believe in “giving people a voice.” Most people already have a voice. But I do believe in providing a platform for authentic, unapologetic – and even radical – self-expression.

I want to make those voices heard as far and wide as possible.

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

Albert Camus


We all have opinions about gender. But there is a time to talk, and a time to hand over the mic. Listening to people telling their stories has been eye-opening as well as heart-opening for me, and I hope it will be for you, too. I never thought I’d be an activist after all.

Everything is political. Self-expression is radical. Time to start a revolution.

Picture of Katy Jon Went

Katy Jon Went

Project Co-creator
& Project Consultant

Pronouns: they/them
or she/her

Katy is a public speaker and educator on gender, identity, sexuality, mental health, human rights, diversity and inclusion. They have taught on the history and variety of gender expression as a guest lecturer at various universities. They’ve been the subject of BBC and independent documentaries and interviews and have spoken at arts and WOW festivals, and TEDx.

They were part of the Queer Britain TV series and have been filmed for the Queer Britain Museum project. For many years they served on their local Norwich Pride committee, LGBT History Month, and were part of Stonewall’s engagement with identities beyond LGB.

For many years via GenderAgenda they have trained on gender diversity and founded support groups for trans and non-binary people and their families.

They are the UK Coordinator of the Human Library which creates safe spaces to ask curious and engaging questions of diverse people and they chair the Respectful Conversations series on toxic and taboo topics (gender, Brexit, free speech, the planet, representation etc) and try to keep an even hand moderating panels and difficult discussions.

What would you like to do next?


to the podcast


a book chapter


go to resources

Patreon icon in purple

If you like what we’re doing and would like to support us, you can do so by becoming a patron on Patreon.

Tiers range from $1 to $6 per month, or you can set your own pledge amount.
Thank you! 💜