Bringing media professionals and trans people together in unique locations, building relationships and leading towards better understanding and representation.
Since 2011, we’ve been working closely with the support of broadcasters and funders to engage media, healthcare and educational professionals (journalists, presenters, producers, commissioners and editors) with trans matters in creative ways.
Instead of traditional campaigning methods of trying to raise general awareness about the community, we’re creating chances for empathy to grow through social interaction. Our experience from the first phase of work (Trans Media Action) has shown that a media or sector 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 and sector professionals by introducing them to some inspirational and talented trans and non-binary people who may challenge their preconceptions in a really positive and enjoyable way. Through these relationships, media professionals are inspired to create more sensitive portrayals of trans people in their work and are more inclined to work closely with them on new ideas and projects. Most recently, we’ve focused on the experiences of trans and non-binary people within education and healthcare. We work with anyone who identifies along the trans spectrum (binary, non-binary, genderfluid, to name but a few).
Achievements so far…
Trans and non-binary people have engaged with nearly 350 media and sector professionals since 2011. They’ve had lunch with Robin Esser, Executive Managing Editor at the Daily Mail, coffee with Charlotte Philby from The Independent, went to Albert Square to meet the EastEnders team and visited with the Press Complaints Commission and Independent Press Standards Organisation, amongst others. After an interaction with Independent columnist Tom Peck, both The Independent and Mail Online used accurate pronouns when reporting the Chelsea Manning case. When Channel 4’s Cathy Newman had lunch with Paris Lees, Shelagh and her son Matt at to the Charles Dickens Museum in London she talked about her experience in her response to the Chelsea Manning announcement in The Telegraph.
Following one interaction and Trans Camp, former BBC’s Head of Creative Resources, Ian Critchley, joined our Advisory Group. After developing a relationship with Ian and key BBC comedy commissioning executives, the BBC Writers Room Trans Comedy Award was born and two scripts involving trans characters were developed. One, ‘Boy Meets Girl’, written by Elliott Kerrigan was made into a pilot by Tiger Aspect and was showcased at the Salford Comedy Festival. It was commissioned by BBC Two to be the first UK trans-themed comedy sitcom, starring trans actress Rebecca Root. Broadcast on 3rd September 2015, it has won awards both itself and for its writing. In 2016 it was recommissioned for a second series, shown on BBC Two in July.
The same interaction sparked a conversation between Paris Lees and Piers Bradford, BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s Commissioning Editor, which led to “The Hate Debate“ and ‘My Transgender Punk Rock Story’. One of our interaction team members also featured on the Mumsnet blog, receiving many supportive messages, sharing her experience in raising a trans son.
An interaction with The Observer editors, led to Ayla Holdom’s feature “If the RAF can accept my gender transition, why can’t the media?”, numerous articles by our co-founder Paris Lees, and having met Yvonne Roberts, Chief Leader writer that same day, she has since joined our Advisory Group.
In 2014, our interactions spread out from London to go regional. An interaction team from Leeds met with the production team from ITV’s Emmerdale and inspired them to consider a trans storylin – you can listen to feedback from participant Tony Hammond, Emmerdale Series Producer, below.
Volunteers also visited The Herald in Glasgow. The first ever All About Trans interaction in Scotland led to Alec Gray, participant in a Patchwork workshop with LGBT Youth Scotland, becoming a regular blogger for The Scotland Herald newspaper, which also showcased his Patchwork video about his Dad’s support. The first post ‘Soon I’ll be me’ has since been viewed over 2000 times and hits on his subsequent blogs continue to grow.
In Liverpool, trans and non-binary people from the Merseyside area met with the production team and actors from Hollyoaks. This was one of the largest interactions so far, with actor Modupe Adeyeye, who played trans character Blessing, participating. The youth-led interaction has led to positive relationships, support in shaping their storyline and an Attitude exclusive. Since then, we have supported Lime Pictures to hold several casting workshops for trans actors in Liverpool and London and filmmaker Lewis Hancox has produced two videos including one with actor Joe Tracini on dispelling transgender myths. Paris Lees also had a cameo on one episode of Hollyoaks, which you can read about here.
We were delighted when Hollyoaks invited us back in 2015 to meet with writers, publicist and actors playing John Paul McQueen and Mrs Sally St. Claire. Sally is played by Annie Wallace, who was found through one of the casting workshops that we supported Lime Pictures to hold. Annie talks about her excitement about the role in Digital Spy. We wrote about our recent interaction with the cast and crew.
Up until the introduction in October 2015 of new character Kyle Slater in EastEnders, we had to keep our meeting with the soap under our hats. In March 2014, a group of trans and non-binary people met with producers and writers to talk about bringing a trans character to Albert Square. Everyone discussed how important it is to have trans characters played by trans actors, something the writers definitely took on board. Riley Carter Millington became the first trans character played by a trans actor in a long running soap, a ground-breaking moment for British television. He played Stacey Slater’s brother for a year – read about the storyline and our meeting with them in our short blog.
“It felt like the writers were interested in writing real, believable and interesting characters despite knowing the culture behind the lack of representation of marginalised people. Hopefully, this is something they will think about and consider.” J, All About Trans volunteer (March 2014)
Trans and non-binary people have also met with BBC editors and producers across the country, journalists from the Dorset Echo, The Cambridge Student, even popped into The Argus in Brighton and held an interaction with UKTV, a broadcaster whose channels include comedy hub Dave, Good Food, Yesterday and Eden and sat down with editors from The Sun and senior staff at Channel 4. These interactions, amongst other things, have led to features in the Dorset Echo and The Sun, regular radio slots on BBC Radio Manchester and positive relationships with executives across UK media.
These are just some examples of what can happen when All About Trans volunteers meet with the media and it goes beyond telling your story to the local paper. Many other ideas and relationships are currently being developed.
Media organisations visited
To date (January 2017), All About Trans volunteers have engaged with over 360 representatives from the following:
- BBC West Midlands
- BBC North West
- BBC Scotland
- BBC Complaints, Comedy, Radio, Drama, Editorial Policy, News Online, Compliance
- BBC Audience Council, Trust Wales and BBC Wales
- Channel 4
- Press Association
- Closer Magazine
- The Sun
- The Independent
- Daily Mail
- The Observer
- The Argus Brighton
- Cambridge Student
- Dorset Echo
- Scotland Herald
- New Statesman
- Department of Education
- Mail on Sunday
- BBC Newsnight
- NHS England
- Channel 5
- The Wright Stuff
- NHS Wales
- The General Medical Council
To see the regions we’ve visited across Britain visit Coverage.
Read a blog about what All About Trans has achieved so far.