Channel 4 today hosted an event with Trans Media Watch, to help the organisation which campaigns for improved representation of transgender people across all media outlets to launch their Memorandum of Understanding.
To aid commissioners, programme makers and journalists in the print and broadcast media, Trans Media Watch have developed a Memorandum of Understanding, in recognition of the need for ongoing communication and co-operation in securing more accurate representation of transgender people in the media.
The Memorandum includes a section on appropriate definitions and terminology, when referring to transgender persons, as well as a series of pledged aims that signatories agree to work towards.
Trans Media Watch ask that signatories to the Memorandum seek to practice and support the following aims:
Channel 4 are the founding signatories of the memorandum, and have pledged to working towards TMW's aim of increasing positive, well informed representations of transgender people in the media.
Stuart Cosgrove, Channel 4 Director of Creative Diversity said,
"Channel 4 recognises and respects the ambitions of Trans Media Watch, and its core values of accuracy, dignity and respect.
Our editorial independence always come first; but it is part of our remit to reflect the diversity of the UK, and in this context we have said we would be delighted to become signatories to Trans Media Watch's aims to work towards great tolerance and improved representation of transgender people.
Channel 4 are keen to really develop our understanding of this community, which can then inform portrayal in our commissions. We know from our engagement with Trans Media Watch that we have had some successes, for example, we were extremely pleased to hear that, according to their research, Channel 4 documentaries like The Boy Who Was Born a Girl were consistently praised for their educational value in relation to transgender issues. And we know from our own research that our Hollyoaks transgender story line achieved real cut through with the audience. We are however keen to deepen our knowledge of the issues around transgender, and have commissioned a piece of research to help inform our understanding."
Building on the limited range of published work in this field, Channel 4 has commissioned an innovative research project to inform us about transgender issues and experience, to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the nuances and complexities of the transgender community. The results will be shared with the commissioning team at Channel 4, with the aim of increasing their knowledge and giving them the confidence to handle portrayal authoritatively.
The research aims to bring the richness and diversity of the Trans community to life for Channel 4's commissioning team. Flamingo will conduct in depth longitudinal research with ten individuals along the Transgender spectrum. The research programme consists of 3 stages:
Jo Shaw, Director at Flamingo said "We are absolutely delighted to be working with Channel 4 on this vital study. There's little doubt that the manner in which trans people are presented in the media can sometimes have a direct, often strongly negative, effect upon their lives. We hope to bring some clarity and insight to the debate, in support of Channel 4's ambition to deepen its understanding of the issues - and its desire to take the lead in presenting the experiences of trans people with accuracy and sensitivity in the future".
In on screen terms, all of next week - Channel 4's religion and ethics strand, 4Thought.tv, will screen a week a films focusing on issues around transgender. The week will include contributions from transgender Church of England minister Christina Beardsley, Journalist Paris Lees as well as Pav Akhtar, who has worked with the Muslim transgender community for many years, and believes that the West could learn a lot from the East's tolerance of transgendered people: the "third sex" has been historically accepted in countries such as India and Pakistan.
Channel 4 also has three further projects in development, examining transgender characters and issues, to be announced later this year