All About Trans: Avoiding Responsibility

The All About Trans project looks at creative ways to encourage greater understanding between trans* people and media professionals to support better, more sensitive representation in the UK media.

The project offers the trans* community a platform to speak out against the prejudice they may experience and promotes engagement between the wide diversity of trans* voices and the media.” – http://www.allabouttrans.org.uk/about/

Over the last two months one of the people who works with All About Trans and has a reasonable media profile has been making comedy videos where he plays a woman in an ill-fitting wig with facial hair. He has ignored criticism that it mocks trans women regardless of his intentions. When it was pointed out to All About Trans that this made him unsuitable to represent trans people they said:

I understand that All About Trans sees itself as merely a link between transgender people and media. Leaving aside that this isn’t quite true – the project has been cited by name in various media outlets and in the quote above refers to offering a platform – making connections like this is not and cannot be neutral. There is discretion and choice involved.

It doesn’t matter if All About Trans want to represent trans people or not. It doesn’t matter if we want them to represent trans people or not. The fact is, to the writers and presenters, and to the general public that see what is written and broadcast, both All About Trans and the people that they select are there representing trans people.

All About Trans puts forward a certain set of people to comment in the media. That selection is a choice they have made. When one of the people they have put forward has repeatedly made comedy based on prejudice against trans women, All About Trans have promoted a transmisogynist as representing trans people. In failing to condemn the material that hurts trans women, All About Trans have tacitly condoned it.

All About Trans cannot abdicate responsibility here. They are in a position of representing trans people regardless of whether they intended to or not, and the choices they make about who to promote matter. The actions of those representatives matter. If a person’s actions work against the group they are representing, they are no longer suitable to represent that group, and continuing to put them forward is therefore a statement about their actions. All About Trans have done good work in the past but in their response to this situation they are letting us all down.  If the people running All About Trans do not think that the comedy in question is a promoting misogyny and transmisogyny then they should say so, so that we at least know where we stand.

I was wrong

A few months ago I very quietly announced to some of you that my gender is nonbinary and requested that people use gender-neutral they/them/their pronouns to refer to me. I also said I don’t feel like I’m a woman and I don’t intend to transition or take hormones.

Turns out I was wrong. I am a woman.

Some of you will have already guessed as much, not least from my increasing comments about gender and my social media posts about transgender issues. On the other hand, some of you definitely have not seen this coming. My gender has been a matter of intense distress, self-examination, questioning, despair and anguish – as those friends kind enough to listen to me know all too well. I didn’t know (or didn’t admit to myself) what I was before the last few months despite years of questioning, but now that I do know, the problems I faced in the past make so much more sense.

Now that I understand more about myself it is time for me to do something about it. I have asked my GP to refer me to a gender identity clinic and I am starting out on my transition.

But that’s not the important part. The important part is this:

I am transgender. My name is Ella. I am a woman.