So the Trans Inquiry Report has come out. I’m writing a separate blog for my charity on that one which I’ll post shortly. However I’ve just come back from watching Jack Monroe getting ambushed on Channel 4 by some radical ‘feminist’ Julia Long. Those air-quotes are deliberate as she’s not exactly done herself any favours in the past.
There has been a massive amount of positive press around this report, it has been largely welcomed by the trans community at large and represents a turning point for being trans in this country.
Then Channel 4 News comes along – it’s appalling and frankly they should be embarrassed by it.
There is a detailed section in the trans inquiry about ensuring trans people get the right kind of media coverage. It highlights sensationalising trans people and the ‘freak show’ element. This is just another shining example of how not to do it.
It started well with some interviews with some lovely trans women, highlighting some of the struggles they face. Then we cut to a ‘debate’ section with Jack Monroe and Julia Long.
Not only did they provide the wrong information to Jack about the interview (they weren’t briefed that it was meant to be a debate), but the person challenging them was permitted to use the kind of language (‘so-called’ trans women) and insinuation that we as a group are trying to steer away from.
There are so many parts of the interview that made me angry, I’ll list a few of them here:
1) Jack was totally ambushed and not given enough air time to defend themselves
2) Julia pulled out the classic ‘one time, in America’ story which seems to delight people.
3) Julia then totally mis-quoted a scientific research paper.
4) Julia deadnamed Jack.
5) There was no opportunity for Jack to come back at the end of the piece – the last word was left with the Julia
Let me settle those points for future reference.
1) Trans people are happy to come and represent themselves. If you want us to be involved in debate with radical anti-trans people for exciting TV ratings then brief us. Don’t ambush us. Some trans people might not like that kind of confrontation and if having a trans person break down on live TV because of some transphobic assault is your idea of TV ratings them please crawl back under a rock. Also please expect trans people to not show up to deal with bigots – not all of use enjoy that kind of abuse for your ratings, we get enough of it in real life.
2) When people pull anecdotal evidence out, pull them up on it! If you want a healthy debate please ensure that everyone involved in the debate has the right facts and background.
3) Anyone can pull up a scientific research project, grab some numbers out of it and draw a totally different conclusion. Fact check please. And if stuff is misrepresented then issue a statement afterwards. There is already a call on twitter for this to happen as the actual results of that study are fully debunked here: http://www.transadvocate.com/fact-check-study-shows-transition-makes-trans-people-suicidal_n_15483.htm *by the people that wrote the research*. In fact it’s pretty standard practice in debates to share any evidence being quoted beforehand with all parties to ensure fairness. But of course that doesn’t make for good TV.
4) Deadnaming or misgendering is horrific. People change their names all the time – but for trans people it is an massive insult to be deadnamed. We quite literally devote an awful lot of resources to moving on from that phase of our lives. There is excellent guidance on this from a variety of sources and make sure your presenter knows their onions please. The presenter did a great job of correcting themselves when mis-gendering Jack (and believe me, a brief apology and a correction is fine for most people)
5) Give equal airtime. Don’t let one person have the closing statement without a counter statement.
In my opinion Julia was trying to present trans people (particularly women) as wannabe rapists trying to get into rape crisis centres to abuse women. Whilst Jack did an excellent job under the circumstances they weren’t given enough opportunity to counter those claims. Trans women don’t want to go into rape crisis centres to abuse women. They want to go into them because they’ve been raped! Deny a rape victim access to support services is totally abhorrent, and even though Jack described their own rape experiences (by a cis woman no less) it was still glossed over.That interview was horribly done, a total car crash of television journalism and is something I would expect from Fox News, not Channel 4. Your track record of trans-inclusive programming has been horrific of late and I really am not looking forward to what you have done with the Miss Transgender UK documentary next week. I’ve already been involved with one shockingly badly done documentary with Minnow Films, so I don’t have high hopes.