British media get interactive with trans people

Charity runs ‘interactions’ between journalists and trans people to increase understanding of trans issues in the media
29 May 2013 | By Anna Leach
The Observer's assistant editor Robert Yates, trans rights campaigners Ayla Holdom, Jamie Pallas and Paris Lees, The Observer's editor John Mulholland and Ralph Francis Fox from Channel 4's My Transsexual Summer

After a spate of nasty incidents involving coverage of trans people in the UK media last winter, charity On Road (which works to improve the portrayal of minorities in the media) is arranging a series of ‘interactions’ this summer.

One of the first interactions – informal meetings between media personnel and trans men and women – was suitably with The Observer, the Sunday newspaper that printed an offensive column with trans slurs last January.

The Observer’s editor John Mulholland assistant editor, Robert Yates and three section editors met five prominent trans rights activists – Paris Lees, Ralph Francis Fox (from Channel 4’s My Transsexual Summer), Ayla Holdom (Royal Air Force search and fescue flight lieutenant), Jamie Pallas and children’s book author Sarah Lennox – earlier this month.

The interaction to the form of one-to-one chats and group discussions.

‘The editors were generally moved and struck by the personal journeys they heard,’ said a write-up about the event on the website for the project, All About Trans.

‘They told us that as journalists, they are by nature interested in people’s journeys and most agreed that often there is more of a “lack of information and acquaintance” rather than empathy or sympathy for the community.’

The meeting with The Observer editors is just the start of a summer face-to-face efforts to improve coverage of trans issues in the British media.

When LBC Radio presenter James O’Brien said ‘can’t remember the last time I learned as much from an interviewee as I did from Fox today’ when he met Ralph Francis Fox.

Media professionals from Closer magazine, BBC commissioning executives, BBC News Online and Channel 4 News also took part in the first round of interactions.



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