We wanted to address some of the concerns and comments from the trans community which we’ve come across over the last few weeks.
Many of you will know that All About Trans is a trans-led project of the charity On Road and there is one paid project manager, who is cis, that drives all of the activities with some part-time support from an administrator. On Road itself is a tiny grassroots charity that tackles social problems by improving media coverage of misrepresented groups and issues. On Road became involved with the trans community in 2011 for these reasons, if you would like to find out more.
AAT is led by and shaped by an Advisory Group and over 200 volunteers around the UK. Our aim is to see AAT be 100% community-led. Since 2014 we have been looking for the best way to hand it over to another trans-led organisation or to set up a new organisation and train up trans staff to lead it, and we are working towards this happening in 2017.
Being a project, AAT’s funding currently comes from two foundations and is not profitable. (We were supported by the BBC and Channel 4 in the past). We pay our facilitators and cover volunteers’ travel and meal expenses when we run media interactions. We are constantly fundraising to carry out the work and being in the third sector, this is no easy job.
Our limited goal is focused on facilitating and promoting engagement between the wide diversity of trans voices and the media. We bring people together to increase visibility and awareness of trans and non-binary people and their experiences. We do not operate as a campaign organisation that comments on behalf of, acts on behalf of, or represents the full diversity of trans voices in the UK. As a project run by a cis-led charity, we feel that this would be entirely inappropriate. We are a project that offers opportunities for trans people to get their voices heard. Our interactions are led by our facilitators and volunteers and we write about each one and their outcomes on our website. Here’s what volunteers and media professionals say about the media interactions.
We advise volunteers on interactions, which are short in time, to focus on getting to know the media professional on a human level, to not feel that they need to explain themselves and their identity in order to be heard – something we feel, with the guidance of our advisors, we need to move away from if media professionals are to start portraying trans people as people first, trans second. Our FAQ page also explains how the interactions work, and we recognise this method is not perfect, and we always gather feedback to improve the method. (Find out how to get involved).
We work with a range of trans people of all gender identities, ages and backgrounds, from around the UK who support our ethos and the work we do. Our success speaks for itself and we will continue to provide platforms for trans people to speak to people in the media. As AAT is led by a variety of trans voices, we are not in a position to get involved in conflicts within the trans community. AAT is guided by an advisory group made up of a majority of trans people without whom the project would not be possible. Our mission is simply to provide opportunities for trans people to get their voices heard and we will continue on that mission for as long as we feel the work is useful.
As we work towards setting AAT up as an independent charity, we are taking a fresh look at the structure of the project. We have decided to discontinue the ‘Ambassador’ title as, with the emergence of so many vibrant new trans voices, we no longer feel it is appropriate. We celebrate equally every member of the trans community who gives their valuable time to the many different All About Trans media-related projects which may be underway at any given time.
Over the last few months, we have been considering how we might improve the work and we’re keen to hold an open consultation meeting. We run many workshops within this project and we aim to hold one in the coming months on how we might shape future work and initiatives. This will be a safe space, facilitated by one of our trans facilitators and we welcome you to take part. If you would rather send us your thoughts and concerns anonymously, we will be sharing an online feedback form (via our website) where we welcome you to get in touch. Although we work across the UK, we are based in London, but our phone number and email address is on this Contact page if you’d like to get in touch. Our doors are always open and we look forward to continuing the work.
Thanks for your support.
Paris Lees, Sarah Lennox, Fox Fisher, Ayla Holdom, Ian Critchley, Kimberley Bird, Yvonne Roberts, Nathalie McDermott, Alana Avery, members of the All About Trans Advisory Group.