All About Trans
When you have never met a person who belongs to a particular group, it can be difficult to see theings from their point of view. When you’ve not chatted to someone who is different to you in a certain way, it can be hard to realise why certain things affect them more. If you work in the media, it can be especially tricky to give balanced coverage to something or someone you don’t understand, but it is also difficult to bridge this gap. How do you find out who to speak to about the correct terminology to use and what will/won’t cause offence?
On Road is a not-for-profit organisation that works with excluded and misrepresented communities to look for solutions to social problems using the web, technology and the media. When I first heard about their All About Trans project, I was amazed at how brilliant the idea is. During the first part of the project (previously known as Trans Media Action), they worked with the Trans Media Watch to devise ways to improve media professionals’ understanding of trans people, encouraging them to find out more and to create more sensitive portrayals of trans people in their work. Phase two is focusing on connecting media professionals with the trans community across the UK:
From late April to July 2013, we’ll be holding 20 “interactions” (social meetings lasting no longer than 2 hours) between a media professional and one to three young trans people. Supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the BBC, It’s a chance for media professionals to get to know young people in a setting of their choice and at their convenience. It could involve anything from a trip on the London Eye, to coffee at their favourite place around the corner from work, to a black cab home being serenaded with their favourite music.
Instead of traditional campaigning methods of trying to disseminate key messages about the community, we’re creating chances for empathy to grow through social interaction. Our experience from phase 1 has shown that a media professional that has been moved in some way is a much more powerful ally than one who has been fed lots of facts! We want to move media professionals by introducing them to some inspirational and talented young trans people who we think may challenge their preconceptions in a really positive and enjoyable way.
How much easier is it to sympathise with people you have met? Understand a group who you have spoken to? These interactions are a brilliant idea and will hopefully lead to better media representation for trans people and, as a result, a better understanding of the trans community by the general public. You can read more about the interactions on the All About Trans website.