All you need to know about the All About Trans project.
1. So, what’s an “interaction” exactly?
An interaction is a safe, informal, social meet-up between trans people and media professionals, designed to build relationships, encourage greater understanding leading to better portrayals of trans people in the media.
An interaction allows media professionals to get to know trans people in a setting of their choice and at their convenience. It is a social meeting where the journalist is not lectured about what to say and what not to say about trans people, but is invited instead to have an enjoyable 2 hours of conversation with a group of diverse trans people who will challenge their perceptions, build an emotional connection between both parties and leave them wanting to learn more. It involves anything from a trip to a local attraction, to coffee at their favourite place around the corner from work, to a picnic in the park. To read more about the interactions and what happens during them, read here.
2. What happens afterwards?
This depends on the volunteer and the media professional they meet with. Often, they keep in touch and this can lead in the immediate future to features from trans writers and journalists, consultations over scripts or even slots on television. Often, a story featuring a trans person comes up in the news and volunteers can contact media professionals personally if they have concerns, or vice versa. More often, the opportunity comes up for them to write an article or opinion piece themselves. Ultimately, we are building relationships at different points in the media with influential and networked individuals, having a sort of good “ripple effect” that slowly but surely spreads through the media organisations that we are targeting.
3. Why should I get involved?
To help influence media representation, to change attitudes amongst the general public, inspire positive action and contribute to an important movement. To voice your opinion, gain skills in digital media and contribute to an online resource publicly or anonymously. To learn how to confidently engage journalists, presenters, executives and other professionals positively and to become involved in activism.
4. And what are the “Patchwork Stories”?
They’re an online collection of videos and podcasts from trans people across the country to show the diversity and variety of stories to be told by the trans community. All these stories are produced in creative ways by trans contributors, focusing mainly on two themes: “Support” and “Celebrations”. Contributors can remain anonymous and stories are mapped on a visual representation of the UK. Exact locations are not mapped for people’s safety. The contributors were provided with professional training and support and a selection were produced by trans filmmakers in collaboration with Channel 4. The stories are hosted online and offer a rich and diverse resource not only to inspire positive representation in the media and change minds but to connect with other trans people and their networks.
5. Why is your work sometimes focused on young people aged 18 – 30?
All About Trans works with volunteers of all ages. The 2014 phase of work, Patchwork and the Youth-led interactions, worked with younger people because a) Our main source of funding for this work is from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which supports projects with younger people (aged 18 – 30) who are at a time of transition in their lives because of their circumstances or changes to their cultural environment and b) There is a lack of awareness of the existence of young trans people and their experiences, which, when addressed, leads to a greater understanding of trans people of all ages and c) Through Patchwork and the Youth-led interactions, we were aiming to support a movement of young activists across the UK who have not taken part in activism before. All About Trans continues to fundraise for projects with trans people of all ages and we invite involvement from people of all ages.
6. How do you guarantee a young person’s safety?
All About Trans is a project run by On Road, a not-for-profit organisation that has worked with many misrepresented groups and marginalised communities since 2005. We have confidentiality and data protection policies in place and we ensure that information about anyone we work with is never shared with any third party (including the media) without permission. We work closely with trans and LGBTQI+ organisations to ensure our volunteers are supported in whatever activity they are involved in and all interactions are attended by an All About Trans facilitator and an On Road manager.
7. How do you know when you’ve made a difference?
We’ve made an infographic about how the interactions have had an impact on attitudes and you can read about what media professionals have to say about their experience on an interaction. Sometimes the outcomes are immediate but our aim for this work is to create longer term change through relationship building. Some outcomes achieved so far include:
Media coverage in The Observer, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Sun, Attitude, Inside Soap, So So Gay, The Herald Glasgow and on Channel 4 News, BBC Radio 1 and 2, BBC Cambridgeshire, BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, LBC 97.3FM, BBC 5 Live and more.
8. Who have All About Trans met with so far?
To date, over 130 volunteers have sat down with nearly 160 media professionals across print, radio, television and online, on almost 30 interactions. Amongst others, we’ve met with senior executives, journalists and editors from the following:
- BBC (Commissioning, Comedy, Complaints, Editorial, Factual and Drama)
- Channel 4 News
- The Daily Mail
- The Independent
- The Observer
- Press Complaints Commission
- Press Association
- Closer Magazine
- UKTV (multi-channel broadcaster for Dave, Gold, Alibi, Good Food etc.)
- Cambridge Student
- Dorset Echo
- The Scotland Herald
- The Argus Brighton
- Independent production companies and writers
- The Sun
- Representatives from Channel 4 Drama, Comedy, Marketing and Diversity
- BBC West Midlands Regional Programmers
- BBC North Regional Programmers
- BBC Trust Advisers Wales
- BBC Audience Council Wales
9. What does “trans” mean?
“Trans” or “trans people” is used to mean the broad spectrum of people who feel they are gender variant in some way, including but not limited to transsexual, transgender, non-binary and gender queer people.
10. How do I get involved?