17 February 2017

Two interactions in one day – interactions with BBC North

All About Trans had a busy start to 2017 – with two interactions in one day at BBC North in Manchester. Trans and non-binary people have visited the organisation and CBBC a number of times before, so we were excited to return.

Since August 2016, the discussions on the interactions have focused on trans people’s access to healthcare as well as the representation of trans people in the media, with several meet-ups taking place with NHS England in Leeds and London, NHS Wales, the General Medical Council, BBC Newsnight and Channel 5.

The two sessions in January were co-facilitated by Sophie Green and Ashleigh Talbot and formed a part of the BBC’s “Divercity” week of events and outreach in Salford.

Having conversations at BBC North

Local connections

Our two interaction teams involved a number of representatives from nearby organisations. Action for Trans Health people had chats with members of the BBC’s Sustainability team, inviting them along to an upcoming fundraiser.

Mermaids volunteers spoke to BBC staff, with many asking to become better acquainted with the charity or arranging to meet up again in the future. We were also lucky to be joined by a large group of  volunteers and staff from LGBT Foundation, who spoke about their trans programme and explained what support they could provide to local trans people.

Supporting trans colleagues in the workplace

A number of BBC staff attended to find out how they could support trans colleagues at work. The interaction team shared examples of positive experiences within the workplace, answered questions about trans matters in a more detailed way and talked about celebrating being trans. Stonewall’s best practice workplace guides were shared, as well Trans*formation’s support of trans professionals, and the Human Rights Campaign guide to coming out in the workplace. The team demonstrated their increased understanding, with one colleague stating “I’ve realised that the best thing to do is nothing at all” – just to treat the person as you always would.

“I’ll remember – and remind colleagues – that diversity is not just about skin colour!” – Julie Downing, Production Co-ordinator (Radio), BBC

Getting reporting right

Representatives from Mermaids and Stonewall

BBC staff came away with a greater knowledge of how to accurately portray trans people in their work. Many commented on the dangers of sensationalising the community’s experiences and considered the ways they could work with trans people to improve representation.

A number of programme makers and a member of BBC Pride said they were eager to keep in touch with the interaction team for consultation and to be connected with trans talent.

Trans people in the media

There was a buzz when the interaction team heard that a member of Radio production team was eager to introduce a trans presenter on their programme about religion and ethics. It was also exciting to hear that a BBC member plans to invite someone from the community to give a talk during a “studio day” – a fortnightly event when teams in radio get together to think creatively about future content.

[What I found most useful about the interaction was] being able to have an open dialogue about topics that people weren’t necessarily familiar with and understand other points of view about how trans people are perceived.” Elijah, LGBT Foundation

Healthcare for trans people

Group discussions

Following the interactions, many media professionals said they had an improved understanding of the topic. There were chats about how important it is to represent trans people’s experience of healthcare in a considerate way; understanding the difficulties there may be if accessing it and respecting individuals’ wishes for privacy on their personal care.

It was a whirlwind of a day, filled with ideas, questions and good conversations. The interaction team were delighted to meet with a group of engaged and interested BBC participants. A very successful, if busy 24 hours!

All About Trans


  • Helen Purves on February 17, 2017:

    Thank you so much for leading this session – it was fantastic. I learned so much and made some brilliant contacts. The tone you set was just right and I know everyone got so much out of it. I hope you all felt welcome and that we’ll meet again soon.

    • All About Trans on February 28, 2017:

      Thank you for the lovely comment!