Richard and I were up at Channel 4 in London on Monday, for the launch of Trans Media Watch‘s Memorandum Of Understanding. The event was hosted by Stuart Cosgrove, C4′s Head of Programmes (Nations and Regions) and a signatory to the MOU.
You can read the MOU if you go to TMW’s website; but in brief, the aims are:
- Eliminate transphobia in the media
- End the provision of misinformation about transgender issues in the media
- Increase positive, well-informed representations of transgender people in the media
- Ensure that transgender people working in or with the media are treated with the same respect as non-transgender people in equivalent positions
At least as important, to me, is the dialogue between media organisations and trans people that is taking place. This is a big step forward from, say, the Moving Wallpaper episode on ITV two years ago, which managed to be both stupid and thoroughly offensive in its portrayal of a transsexual character. There were mutterings in the blogosphere. There were letters to OFCOM. OFCOM woke up briefly and said that it couldn’t see a problem, and went back to sleep.
This has been fairly typical of the way things have worked in the past. So Monday’s event was a big step forward, hopefully.
There were addresses by Stuart Cosgrove, Lynne Featherstone (Equalities Minister), Jennie Kermode and Paris Lees of TMW, David Allen Green (human rights lawyer), Hilary Third (Scottish Govt Equality Unit), Valentino (FTM London), and Hamida Ali (BBC Diversity Manager). And recorded messages from Caroline Lucas (leader, Green Party) and Julie Hesmondhalgh (‘er off Coronation Street).
There was even someone from OFCOM….
And then everyone drank and talked. As you do. So much so that we didn’t give as much attention as they deserved, to the wonderful En Travesti Ensemble.
I was talking to a chap from the BBC who was talking about having trans people on telly doing things. You know, things. Like everyone else does. Rather than just transitioning or being medicalised or being the butt of jokes, like the portrayals in Little Britain which have regrettably not yet been entirely shovelled into the dustbin of history.
Well, here’s hoping.
Thanks, Channel 4! And Trans Media Watch!