Thanks to the recently passed Equality Act of 2010 and the newly formed Trans Media Watch group, the BBC and Channel 4 television in Great Britain are working to get up to speed in terms of more positive coverage of trans people and their issues.
BBC and Channel 4 senior managers recently admitted according to a Pink News story that transgender storylines can be inaccurate and are frequently lacking in breadth and substance.
Hmm. Sounds familiar on this side of The Pond as well.
The newly formed media watchdog group Trans Media Watch is also in discussion with both broadcasting entities to ensure that there are positive and more varied representations of trans people in addition to creating and enacting guidelines to combat negative trans stereotypes.
TMW's Sarah Lake says in a Jane Fae written story for Pink News, “As soon as we began comparing the way trans people are stereotyped in the media with that of LGB people and other minorities, both Stuart and Amanda Rice of the BBC Diversity Unit got it immediately.
TMW has also been working quietly behind the scenes with Channel 4 and the BBC to craft simple guidelines that would help UK broadcasters avoid unintentionally offending their trans audience.
The media push is sorely needed. Recent polling compiled by Trans Media Watch and presented to broadcasters suggests that 78 per cent of the transgender community believes the media portrayals they saw of transpeople were either inaccurate or highly inaccurate, with only three per cent considering them accurate.
So yes, they have some work to do to change those perceptions in the UK trans community.
There's also work to be done as well with British media personnel in getting them acquainted with trans people. “We do not believe most of the constant casual abuse and ridicule of trans people in broadcasting is deliberately intended to be malicious. In our meetings so far we’ve not come across a single broadcaster who had ever consciously had a meaningful conversation with a trans man or woman,” said Susan Lake.
Lake added: “At TMW we do not claim to represent all trans people, who are very diverse. We do however believe all trans people deserve respect.”
That we do. But at the same time we have to be mindful of the fact that media coverage plays a pwerful role in shaping public perceptions of the trans community and determining how much respect we get.
It's nice to see that steps are being taken in the UK to ensure we get that transpeople consistently get those fair and accurate media portrayals.