All About Trans: The Interactions

BBC NW Interaction

‘All About Trans’, is the second phase of our work with the trans community, which began with Trans Media Action in October 2011.

Over the past five years, we’ve been working closely with the support of broadcasters and funders to engage media professionals (journalists, presenters and editors), education and healthcare professionals with trans issues in creative ways.

Interactions

We deliver “interactions” (social meetings lasting no longer than 2 hours) between a media (or other sector) professional and a diverse group of trans and non-binary people. Supported in part by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Awards for All, Allen Lane Foundation and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, these small events are facilitated by a trans facilitator and offer a chance for media or sector professionals to get to understand trans lives in an informal setting. All About Trans is led in consultation with an Advisory Group made of a majority of trans people alongside media experts.

Why?

Instead of traditional campaigning methods of trying to disseminate key messages about the community, we’re creating chances for empathy to grow through social interaction. Our experience has shown that a media or sector professional that has been inspired in some way is a much more powerful ally than one who has been fed lots of facts!

We collaborate with media professionals by introducing them to some inspirational and talented trans and non-binary people who we think may challenge their preconceptions in a really positive and enjoyable way. Through the interactions, they begin to think about covering these topics in a more nuanced and accurate way.

When?

From 2013 – 2017, we’ll be carrying out interactions between media professionals and trans and non-binary people. To date we have carried out 62 interactions with nearly 403 media and other sector professionals across the UK, ranging from the BBC and Mail on Sunday to the Scotland Herald and Hollyoaks.

Website

The project website (www.allabouttrans.org.uk) showcases the interactions, resources for media professionals and digital media produced by trans people.

Paris Lees, award-winning freelance journalist and presenter, co-founder of All About Trans explains the work:

Paris Lees

On All About Trans: “a project to connect media professionals with young trans people in informal settings. We don’t preach, we don’t accuse and we don’t even really do trans 101. We just let you look into the whites of our eyes. It may sound corny but so what? It works. Although we never go in with an agenda for creative outcomes, if you put people with stories in the same room as writers, filmmakers and journalists, it’s inevitable.” Paris Lees, writing in The Guardian

What media professionals say:

Cathy Newman, Channel 4 News Presenter

It was useful in challenging perceptions, education, suggesting story ideas and what surprised me most was that there is no need to define trans people by their surgery or lack of surgery.

Ian Katz, Editor, BBC Newsnight

I think it’s been fantastic. We sometimes treat conversations [about being trans] as abstract, academic discussion. Hearing people talk about their experience, about being challenged all throughout their lives makes you think again about the whole issue.

Wayne Kirkham, NHS England

The biggest thing that I’ve learnt from today is about respecting everybody as an individual and what I’m taking away more than anything is a responsibility. We all have a responsibility, both as individuals and as organisations to educate each other.

Piers Bradford, Commissioning Editor, BBC Radio One

I expected to be lectured but this was an opportunity to have an open and honest chat with some trans people. I found it very insightful, and has led to several programme ideas which have made it on air.

Ian Critchley, Former BBC Controller of Production Talent

The experience gave great promise of a better awareness of the issues facing the trans community. Having spent some time listening to people’s stories we came to the view that the best way to help move things on was to think about some kind of bursary or writing competition which would give the opportunity to explore things further. (On the Trans Comedy Award)

Jane Hill, Presenter, BBC News

I found the most useful aspect to be hearing directly from trans people and I realised that even I, as a gay person, can improve my use of language – therefore the newsroom as a whole could learn a huge amount.

Bianca Strohmann, Senior Complaints Officer, IPSO

I feel like I’ve learned a lot today, and I’ve done it through the means of a friendly chat, which is a great way of learning new things.

Photos from interactions over the years