Representation of Transgendered People in Popular Media

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2010 National LGBT Conference
20 November 2010

Conference welcomes the three motions passed at Trade Union Congress (TUC) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Conference 2010* on the portrayal of LGBT people in the media. Conference also welcomes the information sheet “Complaining about the media” produced by the National Union of Journalists distributed at TUC LGBT Conference which encourages views to be submitted to the Press Complaints Commission on homo, bi and trans phobic portrayals in popular media.

Conference recognises that there are some, albeit rare examples, of positive portrayals of trans people in the media, such as the Channel 4 documentaries The Boy Who Was Born a Girl and Make Me a Man, but also recognises, that all too often, cruel and damaging reporting takes place for trans people. Trans people are often door-stepped by the media or indefensibly “outed” by journalists, who sometimes seek only to write a piece that will appeal to prejudice.

Conference notes the numerous complaints submitted by the Transgendered Community to Ofcom on the offensive Nationwide Building Society’s adverts which parody cross dressing men as ridiculous, vacuous and convey the message that any transgendered expression is humorous and not to be taken seriously. The advertisers claim that they are mere “characters”, “deliberately wearing a moustache”. However this is insensitive and belittles the trauma suffered by male to female (MtF) individuals suffering from gender dysphoria. Facial hair removal is not only painful and expensive; it is rarely funded by Primary Care Trusts thus unaffordable to most as part of the gender-reassignment treatment.

Conference therefore calls on:

1.The UNISON LGBT Committee to work with TUC LGBT on the media motions, paying particular attention to transphobic portrayal to raise the bar of acceptable broadcasting/publishing and to support the important work carried out by Trans Media Watch in combating prejudiced sensationalist and inaccurate depictions of trans people;

2.All people to complain about negative homo, bi and transphobic portrayal in the media to the appropriate watch-dog organisations as well as the companies behind the campaigns;

3.The Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) community and society to be generally more knowledgeable about the difference between the terms “cross-dressers”, “transvestite”, “drag-queen”, “transsexual” and “transgender” (including pre-op and post-op).

* Motions on LGBT representation in the media at the TUC LGBT Conference 2010

A.Motion 1 – Homophobic Violence, Hate Crime and the Media (National Union of Journalists)

B.Motion 2 – Homophobia in the Media (Prospect)

C.Motion 3 – Development Fund for LGBT Workers and Output in Broadcast Media (Equity)