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Out with Suzi Ruffell – S4 EP12: Charlie Craggs

Last week, some of our fabulous reviewers put their listening caps on to listen along to another highly recommended podcast: Out with Suzi Ruffell. In Out‘s most recent episode, comedian Suzi Ruffell is joined by incredible author, artist and activist Charlie Craggs (founder of Nail Transphobia and author of To My Trans Sisters).

Will our writers be tuning in for the next season of Out with Suzi Ruffell (due to be released within the next month)? Find out for yourself…

Suzie Ruffell is captured mid laugh. She is wearing a white t shirt with a rainbow coloured MTV logo emblazoned on its front.

Wayne

There’s a wonderful naturalness to Suzi Ruffell’s interviewing. Her conversation with Charlie Craggs flowed so effortlessly. I felt like I was earwigging on two old friends setting the world to rights in some corner café.

Comedians tend to make good interviewers. It’s their knack for forging an immediate connection with people, knowing how to build a story, precision timing. Anyone who chats to people for a living will tell you, you’re only as good as your subject. Activist, writer, and presenter Craggs is a gift. 

She’s quick, funny, open, engaging, passionate and happy to get in your face if she needs to. She pulls you in. I loved how their chat was a two-way street with the pair comparing life stories and questioning each other’s stance on things.

I’m not a fan of chronological interviews. Someone once described my own style as like “free jazz” which I chose to take as a compliment. Sticking to a formula can lead you down too many cul-de-sacs, where you already know the answer that’s coming. Much more fun to jump some fences. So, the highlights for me were in the surprises. 

Craggs’ “fearless” mum, how her faith wasn’t an issue because she knew God made her this way, the transformative experience of watching transgender Big Brother contestant Nadia Almada on TV… Craggs describes how she’d felt like a girl since she was four and knew it after watching the aforementioned Almada when she was 11. It shows how innate, how natural, that sense of knowing is. It’s not a choice because, as Craggs painfully points out, nobody would choose to be transgender.

Inevitably, certain topics came up. Hello JK Rowling, Pope Francis, the list goes on. The trans community certainly doesn’t need another straight, white, middle-aged cis man like me weighing in on any of that (if you want to know more, please listen to this podcast or other LGBTQIA+ creators/educators).

Overall, I found Ruffell and Craggs’ chat refreshing and informative. They called the misdirection, misinformation, and manufactured friction out for what it is. Served time on the community being reduced to stereotypes, statistics, a punchline or a punchbag. Why is society is still debating their right to exist, rather than helping them to? As a journalist, I agree the media’s part in the conversation certainly needs reframing.

There were plenty of interesting jumping off points for further investigation. After listening to this podcast, I found Craggs’ documentary Transitioning Teens. A difficult at times, but important watch. 

Charlie Craggs is such a fierce voice for the trans community. Her belief that stories are just that and can exist without labels. Her call to arms about owning your space and having the confidence to make today the day you change your narrative is good advice for us all.

My only big disappointment was there was little talk about Craggs’ national campaign Nail Transphobia, which aims to education people on trans issues and tackle transphobia while giving marvelous manicures. I’d have loved to have heard some of those stories. 

A first-time listener, I look forward to the return of Ruffell’s podcast later this year. Plenty of old episodes to enjoy in the meantime though.

Charlie Craggs stares assertively at the camera. She is outside, wearing a stylish pink coat, white t shirt and large gold earrings.

Becca

On my third podcast based review for our beloved rrramble, I don’t feel like I can start with my usual waffling spiel about how much I love a podcast and by extension, any opportunity to talk about my extensive podcast subscription list. Presumably most people know the drill by now (in case anyone has missed the memo, check out my previous reviews for detail!).

I have a lot of time for Suzi Ruffell. Admittedly, I hardly know her as a comedian at all, but my god, my ability to binge listen Like Minded Friends – her other podcast, co-hosted by Tom Allen – knows no bounds. I’m not sure how I stumbled across their joyously friendly rambles, but I immediately found something so inviting about them. Relatively unstructured in their format, they truly feel like a beautiful insight into the simple joys of closeplatonic queer friendship. Chaotic, funny, and thought provoking, in my professional opinion, it has it all. 

I am thrilled to report that the genuine and welcoming first impression that Ruffell established in Like Minded Friends has certainly carried across into her solo podcast venture, Out With Suzi Ruffell. Seeking to provide a platform for the inspiring lives of LGBTQIA+ people, previous guests have included Adam Kay, Lady Phyll, and Hannah Gadsby. The most recent episode (released 20th December 2021), saw Ruffell in conversation with transgender author and activist, Charlie Craggs. Though they establish early on that they have met previously, it is clear that this will be a departure from the context of the very close friendship that I’ve been used to listening to in Like Minded Friends.

There is something so endlessly endearing to me in the way that – despite this more traditional interview structure – Ruffell is able to ask the right questions to keep the conversation flowing with such a natural ease. Topics of discussion range from class and social mobility, faith and queerness, the innateness of queerness, mental health, and the disproportionate discrimination faced by the trans population – all of which are navigated with such sensitivity and clarity. Finishing this review today, following the recent devastating revelation that trans people will not be protected by the UK government’s (partial) ban on conversion therapy, makes much of their conversation all the more poignant. Aspects of it seem laughably naïve, but we all wanted to believe just a few short months ago that we surely wouldn’t have ended up here. 

Both Craggs and Ruffell speak so eloquently and sincerely about their experiences as queer women. Despite the heart breaking struggles that Craggs has experienced particularly in her youth, I was genuinely touched and inspired by her legacy to actively change her life’s narrative from one of shyness and victimhood, to confidence and authenticity. I’ve heard this story on many a podcast in the past, but there was something about this conversation that made that sentiment much more sincere to me. I’m so glad I’ve finally taken the plunge to give Out a proper listen. With 60 odd episodes to catch up on, I can feel a new podcast binge coming on before its imminent return. 

You can listen to Out with Suzi Ruffell on all major streaming platforms, including on Spotify.

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