Talking Sense launches to combat harmful anti-trans discourse in the media

GCN in collaboration with TENI and Una Mullally present an information evening for journalists and other media workers.

Talking Sense: Left image of TENI CEO Eirenne Carroll and right is a picture of Una Mullally

Talking Sense is a special information evening for journalists and other media workers interested in trans rights and media discourse in Ireland. This event will address the legislative and healthcare backdrop to trans lives in Ireland, best practice for journalists and media workers when reporting on or discussing trans people and the issues unique to trans people, and how contemporary discourse was formed and cascaded.

In recent months and years, entrenched opinions, polarising rhetoric, and misinformation have very unfortunately characterised parts of the “discourse” about the lives and healthcare of trans people. This is especially pronounced in certain other countries social and mainstream media, leading to a heightened, distorted atmosphere, particularly online.

In this atmosphere, it is increasingly difficult for civil conversations to occur online. We risk being left with merely a polarised “debate” formed on shaky ground, and less education, understanding, and empathy for the lived experience of trans people. 

Ireland has a specific legislative and social landscape regarding the rights and lives of trans people. It should be recognised that legislative progress in Ireland, which gave rise to the Gender Recognition Act in 2015, was a rare example of the political machinery being somewhat ahead of the public’s familiarity with the lived experience of trans people. This has as much to do with the lack of visibility and marginalisation of trans people in society, as it does with a general appreciation in Ireland that extending rights to certain people does not adversely impact other cohorts. Legislative progress also occurred within the context of other great strides Ireland made in LGBTQ+ rights in recent years. 

poster for Talking Sense: Trans Rights and Media Discourse in Ireland

Yet our proximity to places where an entirely different conversation around trans rights has taken hold in some quarters potentially gives rise to a situation where Irish media may trace the contours of another jurisdiction’s “debate”, without appreciating how that discourse emerged. 

Many people have questions regarding the experiences of trans people, and many of those questions are simply rooted in lack of information, education, or the mere consequence of not personally knowing individuals who are trans or non-binary. Yet others use such information vacuums to pursue a type of discourse that is damaging to trans people. How public opinion is formed is not always authentic, and the lived reality of people’s lives is often misrepresented as a topic of debate, or more nefariously as a threat to another cohort in society.

Speaking about Talking Sense, Co-organiser Una Mullally shared:

“I’m really looking forward to having an open and instructive conversation that centres the trans experience, and offers an opportunity for journalists in Ireland to understand the complexities of the lived experience, and how we can all lead with empathy.

In recent years, a social revolution has occurred in Ireland that has been characterised by strong social cohesion, honest and open conversations, mutual respect, and empathy. It’s in that spirit that we are hosting this evening, which we feel is of importance to journalists and media workers at this moment.

Fellow co-organiser, TENI CEO Éirénne Caroll added: 

“I am excited about this event because it is the first of its kind seminar. As a trans person, I am excited to talk with a wide range of journalists and to aid in better understanding of my community that will lead to better reporting, and better representation. I hope you take the time to join us as it will provide great tools, and a great lens for better engaging trans people and sharing our stories!”

You can register for Talking Sense on Eventbrite now.

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