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On the evening of Monday 14th March 2011 the organisation Trans Media Watch collaborated with Channel 4 TV to launch a new Memorandum of Understanding to an audience of media people, politicians and trans people.

The goal of the memorandum is to help eliminate discrimination relating to trans people in all media by setting out goals that all the parties can aspire towards. Channel 4 were the first organisation to subscribe to the principles.

The MOU doesn't call for censorship but aims instead to give media organisations the tools they need to address endemic problems.

Trans Media Watch say they are guided by the basic principle that they wish to see transgender people and issues treated with accuracy, dignity and respect.

Just Plain Sense was there to capture the atmosphere of the event, including speeches by Minister for Equalities, Lynne Featherstone MP, Stuart Cosgrove from Channel 4 and reactions from the audience.

Listen to the show online with the player below or click one of the options on the right to download into your favourite music player or feed reader. You can also read more background on the Just Plain Sense Blog

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  • Paris Lees

    Absolutely pissed!

    Mar 17, 2011 at 9:44 pm
  • Christine Burns

    If that’s you when pissed Paris then I predict great things for you. You’re a great presenter. When the media catch on to this I predict they will soon be wondering how on earth they got on without you before.

    Mar 17, 2011 at 9:47 pm
  • Sarah Lake

    For the first time since Monday after hearing this, I’m going to allow myself and the others at TMW a little pat on the back. It is just fabulous to hear these positive and enthusiastic voices endorsing what we’re trying to do. Thank you so much Christine for this podcast and for so much more. It’s been amazing how many doors we’ve knocked at only to find you’ve already been through preparing the way.

    There’s so many people I’d like to thank but above all this event could not have happened without Stuart Cosgrove. He has given us something very precious on which to build … and that is what we intend to do.

    Mar 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm
  • Paris Lees

    Check out my blog about the event (warning: contains personal bits!):


    Mar 17, 2011 at 10:22 pm
  • Paris Lees

    And thank you Christine! x

    Mar 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm
  • Helen Wilson

    Now we really do have credible Media, Campaigning and Research strands within the trans umbrella :) The all important fourth strand that is support, now need to emerge from its local roots to develop its own national framework.

    Well done everybody you have come a long way.

    Mar 17, 2011 at 10:50 pm
  • Christine Burns

    The other one you need to add to that list is Health Helen.

    Whilst I’ve personally led on things like chairing the first transgender work stream at the Department of Health, working on regional commissioning policies and publishing the reference material which can support change, and others such as GIRES have done a lot of work too, I think it’s an area which needs an approach akin TMW’s to really bring focus.

    The new health and social care landscape will be transforming Local Involvement Networks (LINks) into something called local ‘Health Watch’.

    The localism strategy threatens to rob us of the ability to influence the NHS from a national level in favour of these groups which don’t appear to have much track record, capacity or capability in terms of diverse health needs .. let alone trans knowledge.

    This will be a challenge faced by other protected groups besides trans, but it will be felt most acutely in the smaller communities, with limited capacity, who can’t get round to upwards of 500 local organisations to attempt to use what little local levers there will be.

    The starting point will have to be an attempt to bring attention to the generic issues, and to map them nationally .. just as TMW has documented examples of poor practice in the media.

    Perhaps it should be called “Trans Health Watch”. Now, which enterprising young’ish trans people want to start it?

    Mar 18, 2011 at 9:14 am
  • post op

    Paris made a great point in her slot last night, transphobia is the last barrier of acceptance. If only I looked as good as Paris, then maybe my life would be better than it is. I contacted TMW about 4thought, I was tired of the same old religious attitudes towards trans issues, and thought this show could deliver a positive message. As someone who is still a target for the local yobs and have suffered many years of harrassment, assaults, and lack of work due to rampant transphobia, it is quite obvious that society has a long way to go to accept us. I am not saying its all bad, I had a guy open a door for me the other day, and an young man allowed me off the bus before himself and his friend in a wheelchair yesterday, even though I gestured to let them off first, its little things like that that make my day, however those vermin who infest the estate where I live just won’t leave me alone, and I feel terrorised at times.

    Transphobia is not just in the church, its also in employment, and with the current economic climate, that is just going to get worse, Cameron called the unemployed lazy scroungers, yet the organisations tasked to help those out of work get into work are not fully equipped to deal with transphobia, places like A4E, Shaw Trust and other pathways to work programmes etc where I have attended to get work, I have suffered abuse and harrassment and the centres have not been able to deal with it appropriately, now Cameron wants to take our homes off us, what a lovely next 4 years we face under the ConDem’ed

    Mar 23, 2011 at 8:25 am
  • Jane B.

    I totally relate to your situation Post op. I’ve been out of work for 10 years due to ill health. Now I’m getting better I want to start transition , but my G.P has warned me not only will having been ill go against me (even though I’m healthy now), but also the fact that there are so many cuts to the NHS , it will be almost impossable to transition on the NHS. (I’ve been waiting for an apointment with my local gender clinic for several months , but still no reply).

    Then theres my employment issues , no one will give me a job, and I can’t deal with working amongst deeply ignorant people in a very low paid job sporting a dress , wig and beard,until my “real life test” is over in what might be years and years down the road….

    I also get abuse everyday as a local trans woman outed me , so now I’m being harrased by the local lesbian mafia who hate me, several of whom live around me.

    Its ironic, you would think people would be happy that out lives are shit to begin with , let alone makeing them worse at every turn .

    I loved to points Paris made on 4Thought , and I think theres a serious issue of ownership going on with cis gendered people . They feel they have the right to not only control our lives , but to know every personal detail about us , ask any question they like , and do what they want to us . I guess theres no respect for Trans people like us , not even on the most basic level.

    Lets hope things get better.

    Mar 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm
  • Kaz 'The Transman' Neumann

    So, so refreshing to hear such intelligent and informed people talk on this extremely ‘worthy of a decent airing’ subject.

    HALLELUJAH! What a wonderful event - devastated I wasn’t there to enjoy such a positive vibe.

    As the FTM Co Chair of SWTEN/South West Transgender Equality Network, supported by Equality South West and Founder/Facilitator of CTSAR/Cornwall Transgender Support and Resource, raising Transgender Awareness is my ‘Life’s Work.’

    I would very much like to be involved in Trans Media’s campaign - I think as an ‘out and proud’ Transman, it would be simply RUDE not to be.

    I look forward to hearing from you ‘The ‘T’ Team’ very soon.

    Mr Kazimierz (Kaz) Hawthorne Neumann

    Mar 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm
  • Christine Burns

    Kaz, there’s a link to TMW’s web site in the introductory text above the player on this show. You’ll find a contact page there. It’s http://www.transmediawatch.org.uk/.

    There’s also a very active Facebook group (just search for the full name) and they are on Twitter as @transmediawatch

    I hope that helps.

    Mar 27, 2011 at 2:40 pm
  • Paris Lees

    I haven’t been back to this blog to look at the comments for almost a month now. I don’t know what brought me here today, but I’m glad I came.

    Post Op, thank you for your kind words. I’m glad that you and Jane B enjoyed my 4Thought. I have been getting a lot of criticism lately from people in the trans community and it is really nice to see positive comments like yours.

    But what’s this all about?

    “If only I looked as good as Paris, then maybe my life would be better than it is.”

    Though I am very grateful that I have been given the gift of passing privalege, please don’t think that my life is so great. I went through some truly ghastly experiences several years ago, and it was down to these traumas that I chose to become a trans activist. I can assure you that I feel all the thinsg that every other trans person feels from time to time, somtimes I don’t want to leave the house, sometimes I feel ugly and sometimes I feel like the whole world is against me. The funny thing is, I think that a lot of the criticism I have been getting from trans people recently is precisely becaue of my looks, and also the fact that I am progressing in my career. People see these little snippets of me, 1 and a half minutes on TV, a good photo which I use for online profiles, and they make the mistake of thinking that my life is much more glamoorous and carefree than it is. Ultimately, I’m a person struggling to make a dent in the media. Altough I am very happy and proud to write for DIVA, I’m only a contributor, not a full time member of staff.

    I didn’t want to go out the house the day I filmed for that 4Thought - as it had been three months since I came off my homrones, due to health reasons. (I’m back on them now.) That’s why I wore the hat, to take away attention from my face. I doubt people would think that, they’d probably just think I’m really confident and wear whatever I like. Which I am, to a certain extent, but the point is I worry about my appearance just as much as anyone.

    I went out though because I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to speak out on these issues! I honestly only did 4Thought for the good of trans people - I can assure you that going on telly was the very LAST thing I wanted to do the way I was feeling at that moment in time. By the way, I am not fishing for compliments. I know I look Ok in the clip because I see it and other people have told me, but I ceratinly don’t look my best - and my mum even commented on that, so I’m not imagining it. I suspect a few people feel jealous of me having seen me on TV. I wish they knew what the experience, and my motives, were truly like.

    I want you to feel good. I won’t lie to you - when I started taking hormones, my life did become easier. Partly because my body felt more female, but partly because I looked more feminine. Looking ‘passable’ can have quite a profound effect on how your life feels on a day to day basis. But it is wrong for things to be this way. That is why I am not stealth, and want so much for society to be better for all people like us. Because - and this is no joke - what if all my hair dropped out one day? What if I went blind? Or what if I just get old and lose my feminine looks? Will my life become much harder again?

    It probably would, and that’s wrong. I hope we can make things better for everyone. Please try and stay positive and don’t compare yourself to people who you perceive to be more attractive than you because it will only make you unhappy. I used to to with celebrities all the time and it’s just depressing. Just count yourself lucky that you are a kind intelligent person and that there are other good people like you out there. Best wishes,

    Paris x

    Apr 22, 2011 at 3:02 am