Monday, 14 March 2011

Trans Media Watch, a Memorandum of Understanding and Cultural Change

Later today, Channel 4 will be hosting a shin-dig with Trans Media Watch to celebrate their Memorandum of Understanding. The document is available in full here. The group is relatively new and describes itself as an organisation that aims to combat prejudiced, sensationalist and inaccurate depictions of transgendered people in the media. It is apparently run by volunteers and aims to reflect the concerns of those people and of the community as a whole.

The document sets out that signatories to the document agree to work toward the following aims:-

• Eliminating transphobia in the media.
• Ending the provision of misinformation about transgender issues in the media.
• Increasing positive, well-informed representations of transgender people in the media.
• Ensuring that transgender people working in or with the media are treated with the same respect as non-transgender people in equivalent positions.

The document adds that signatories further agree to undertake an annual process of review resulting in an annual report on their progress in respect of these aims.

The document expands on each of the above bullet points and is, I think, to be welcomed. Transphobia remains acceptable in a way that racism, and to a lesser extent homophobia, are no longer regarded as acceptable. Too often, we can still snicker at the 'bloke in a frock with a funny wig', and it seem acceptable. Yet, the more we see and understand the reality of modern trans lives, we will, I believe, change in a way that has thus far eluded our society beyond pockets of progressiveness. Whilst the Gender Recognition Act was a radically reforming piece of legislation in many respects, it maintained the old binary gender divide and problems remain. The media has a vital role in achieving this wider cultural shift and it is surely to be hoped that many media organisations will sign up to this document.

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