chapter  6
19 Pages

‘I Worry That They’ll Pick on Someone I Care About’: Trans People’s Perceptions of the British Mass Media and Its Impact on Their Mental Health and Well-Being

ByLOUIS BAILEY, JAY McNEIL AND SONJA J. ELLIS

In 2010, the UK campaign group Trans Media Watch ran an online survey looking at ‘How Transgender People Experience the Media’.1 The subsequent report (Kermode, 2010) found that 78% of respondents felt that the media portrayals were either inaccurate or highly inaccurate (n=256) whilst 70% felt that, on the whole, representations were negative or very negative (n=249). A further 21.5% had experienced verbal abuse and 8% physical abuse that they believed was associated with representations of trans people in the media. Others (numbers not indicated) felt that media attitudes in general may have contributed to the social climate that led to them being assaulted. The findings of the report fed into a submission to the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press, compiled by Trans Media Watch in December 2011.2 Titled ‘The British Press and the Transgender Community’, the submission provided examples of prejudicial treatment of trans people by the press and case studies highlighting the impact of press intrusion on individuals and families. The report called for, among other things, greater protection for vulnerable groups (acknowledging the effect of prejudicial or inaccurate reporting on wider communities, not just the individuals directly affected); greater privacy for an individual both in life and after death; the inclusion of the protected characteristic of ‘gender identity’ in the Press Complaints Commission code of practice; and penalties for press found to be in breach of the press regulators code.