18 December 2015

What All About Trans is celebrating this Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner and a New Year about to begin, we wanted to look back over the last few months to reflect on achievements and learning.

Some big wins

We’ve held several media interactions this year, with more planned for 2016. Nearly 40 trans and gender variant volunteers have met with almost the same number of media professionals, and we’ve seen new opportunities for engagement lead to warm friendships.

Meeting with EastEnders

We’ve been delighted to see Hollyoaks reveal a new trans storyline with the school’s new headmistress, which our advisors have been supporting the writers with. We’ve made progress with the Mail on Sunday and the New Statesman, who are both keen to improve their coverage of trans people and consult with the community more.

There’s also been an exploration of the need for better policy and understanding with the Department for Education in schools across the UK. During this meeting, we highlighted how important it is to improve reporting of trans issues in schools, so it was great to work with Radhika Sanghani on her Telegraph article about trans teachers, featuring words and advice from public speaker and former teacher Juno Roche.

With each interaction, we know we are being heard, so it’s that much easier to have an open dialogue when problematic things come up. To date, 59% of media professionals have plans to produce something in the future with the trans people they meet on our interactions and a third have already created something (e.g. article, programme, project).

Check out all the media interactions volunteers have led

Progress indeed!

In October, Fox Fisher and Lewis Hancox’s beautiful short films produced by All About Trans formed part of Channel 4’s trans season. My Trans Story has been viewed over 100,000 times since then and is available on 4OD. Lewis, a popular YouTuber, has since produced with us two comedy education videos on trans toilet tips and the differences between gender and sexuality (a collaboration with Intersex UK). The most recent was picked up by Pink News.

Rainbow List 2015. Photo by Micha Theiner

Rainbow List 2015. Photo by Micha Theiner

We planted the seed for a new trans storyline and character at EastEnders on our interaction with their team last year. We’ve been offering advice on their storyline and this year, the actor Riley Carter Millington playing the new character, Kyle, made No. 1 on the Independent on Sunday’s LGBTI List.

You will have heard already about the success of BBC Two’s Boy Meets Girl, which we played a part in getting made, and we can’t wait for the second series. The Independent said programmes like Boy Meets Girl “put trans on the agenda“, and commented on All About Trans’ role in increasing trans visibility. Paris Lees also wrote about changes in trans representation on telly and how All About Trans came about for The Guardian.

Meeting with the New Statesman

Meeting with the New Statesman

During the broadcast of the sitcom, we had volunteers across the country speaking about the show on BBC regional radio. We also worked with the Telegraph on a long form feature about trans people and their partners.

We worked with BBC Radio 4 and two trans and non-binary volunteers from Dorset who took part in the Listening Project, and volunteers like Sophie Green and Ashleigh Talbot (with Stephanie Hirst) spoke about Trans Day of Remembrance on BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Manchester. Finally, Paris Lees made her second appearance on the BBC’s Question Time, alongside MPs and Stig Abell, the Sun’s Managing Editor.

Listen to volunteers ask media professionals about their All About Trans meeting on Audioboom

Here’s what we learned..

Recently, we ran a media workshop at the Trans Youth Network Conference in Birmingham, with My Genderation and nearly 30 trans and non-binary young people, all enthusiastic and opinionated on media representation. Check out the video featuring the young people who took part and Fox Fisher’s Huffington Post blog about the day.

We also held a Facilitator Training Course for budding facilitators and community leaders. The learning was immense and the group was full of beans! We’re looking forward to more of the same in 2016.

Learning at the Facilitator Training Day

Learning at the Facilitator Training Day

Many of you will be aware we met with Channel 4, following feedback we received from the trans community about their documentary Girls to Men. We were very concerned about a number of things in the programme, including the focus on surgery procedures and lack of diverse representation of trans masculine experiences.

Having not worked with the production company behind it, we asked for better consultation with all the participants involved and with other trans organisations who work directly with trans people. We passed on all the feedback we received and they took this on board but were also keen to share much of the positive feedback they’d received from their viewers. We agreed there is still work to do and we are planning another media interaction in early 2016 to explore the issues that came up and look at constructive ways of improving their programming.

Interaction at the Department for Education

Interaction at the Department for Education

This year we’ve seen great progress and we’ve learned a lot. Change doesn’t happen overnight but we have built teams of enthusiastic and talented volunteers of all ages across the UK, and we’re looking forward to working with them to influence more media professionals in the New Year. We’re also experiencing more willing media organisations come to us for consultations and interactions.

Finally, we recently blogged about a trans talent register which we use when opportunities from the media arise, putting the professional in touch with an interested person from the trans community right away. Coming up to Christmas there is cause for celebration and as we look ahead into 2016, there is much still to do!

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and have a lovely holiday.

On Road,

Project Manager for On Road.