Can you imagine what it must be like to not feel comfortable with your gender?

Playing football outside proved to be the defining moment that Dorset resident Jay Murray decided he wanted to be a man.

This is one of many insightful instances that we were told about at our All About Trans project meeting with Jay, J, Alana and Sarah, from the Space Youth Project Co-ordinator.

Since 2011, the project has been working closely with BBC Diversity and Channel 4, engaging media professionals with trans issues in creative and non-confrontational ways.

And the Echo reporters haven’t been the only ones to get involved. The group has met with the Observer, broadcasters from Channel 4, commissioners from the BBC, and editors from the Daily Mail.

All About Trans works with a team of committed and passionate transgender volunteers to help media professionals gain a better understanding of everyday transgender people’s lives.

All About Trans project manager Alana said: “So often in the work, we’ve found that journalists have never knowingly sat down with a trans person and it’s also just as unlikely for a trans person to have coffee with a journalist or reporter.

“Reporters often look to social media for stories and to bring about more awareness of what it means to be trans. The All About Trans project encourages trans people to develop positive relationships with the media and inspire accurate and sensitive reporting as well as new programme ideas.”

This year, 100 young trans people aged 18 to 30 across the UK have been carrying out a series of informal social meetings with regional and local media professionals.

The nature of each interaction is to give people the opportunity to get to know each other and feel comfortable to ask questions.

At each interaction, everyone is assigned a ‘buddy’, who has similar interests to them.

Jay said: “I really enjoyed chatting in the one-to-ones, they were very respectful and seemed genuinely interested and recognised there is a need for positivity in the media of the portrayal of trans.

“They were very down to earth and I felt communicated on our level. So many times in the past I have felt ignored so it was so nice to not be.”

Jay spoke about the defining moment when he was asked by his mum to put his top back on when he was playing football outside.

He said this made him realise he wanted to be a man and he went through his final life-changing operation in 2007.

Jay also told us about how significant a snooker ball was to him, because he had played the game on both male and female teams.

The interaction touched on topics of being a trans child and how coming out in schools can lead to bullying.

Some of the volunteers shared their own experiences and how they dealt with the school’s response.

There are shockingly high levels of self-harm amongst the LGBT community, but we soon found out that there is a wide variety of support.

The Space Youth Project provides young trans people across Dorset with support and it became clear how important that is, particularly in rural areas, where young trans people might feel very alone.

Alana added: “Many conservative attitudes exist in the senior roles at many media organisations and sensationalism can be apparent when it comes to reporting stories involving trans people.”

One of the volunteers, with some encouragement, recited a poem he’d written, which impressed everyone.

He explained that he felt like more of a poet than a trans person.

We talked briefly about how creative the trans community are.

The topic of surgery was touched on and we discussed how people need to be respectful and not ask personal questions about someone’s personal life.

We left the interaction feeling inspired and determined to act when we came across local trans gender stories.

The project has helped to shape new understandings across the UK and now it is important to pass that understanding on.

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