Since January 2011, On Road has been working with the trans community on Trans Media Action, supported by Channel 4 and the BBC. Phase Two is now also supported by the Esmeé Fairbairn Foundation.
Transgender, transsexual or “trans”, is a term used to describe people who grow up having to deal with “gender dysphoria”; a sense, often overwhelming, that the physical gender with which they were assigned at birth is not reflected by who they know themselves to be inside.
Some trans people have grown up knowing they just don’t feel right and this can be really upsetting. Some are able to work it out when they are young. Some realise later in life. Some wish to have surgery. Some don’t. There is no one way of describing a trans person’s experience.
What we do know is that most trans people feel like anyone else if they’re slagged off for how they look or if they’re asked about their genitals…which happens a lot. Trans people form one of the least understood and most misrepresented communities in the UK and the media plays a big role here. This is what we’re trying to change with projects like this one.
- Trans is short for transgender which covers anyone who doesn’t feel 100% like the gender they were given at birth and who may be troubled by that. Sometimes it means they feel like they’re the opposite gender to the one they’ve been labelled. Sometimes it means that they feel like they’re somewhere in between. And sometimes it feels like they’re both, or even neither. For many trans people gender feels like a spectrum, not just two separate boxes, and we all sit somewhere.
- People: There are an estimated 12,500 people in the UK who have changed their documentation to identify them as a different gender to the one they were allotted at birth. Some of these have transitioned with the aid of medical therapy. But the number of people who, to some degree, are not comfortable with the gender they’ve been labelled with could be as many as the population of Manchester.
- Sex: It has nothing to do with sexuality, i.e. who you’re attracted to. Trans people are gay, straight, bisexual, etc., just like everyone else.