This trans woman is helping to fight for better representation on your TV
A transgender woman is helping to work towards better representation on television in order to help fight transphobia.
Jenny Kirk has told PinkNews about her appearance on Channel 4’s new series, Biggest Little Railway, and why it’s important for trans people to be included in more programmes that are not gender specific.
The five-part show follows teams of people as they build one of the biggest model railways in the world across the Great Glen Way in Scotland.
Hosted by Scrap Heap Challenge’s Dick Strawbridge, the show has been called “a bit bonkers, but very British”.
38-year-old Kirk, who is a trans lesbian married to Conservative politician, was one of the team leaders on the show.
Speaking about her colleagues on the show, she said: “It was such a great bunch of people. Being trans was never an issue, it was never brought up. The producers of the programme knew I was transgender but they were really really good about it.”
“It was never made a thing of and I think that’s been very important for me, trans inclusion. We can just be normal transgender people that are treated like everyone else and on this shoot that’s exactly what happened.”
Kirk, who is a writer and broadcaster, said that she believes by allowing trans people on normal programmes it will help the trans community to be accepted.
She said: “Other production companies could well bare in mind that you don’t have to make a feature of somebody being transgender.
“You can have other skills other than your gender and this show really brought this out. It wasn’t made a thing of.
“I was treated as someone who is bringing skills to the mix and that was great and that shows any trans person who might watch this that we don’t have to be this kind of curiosity we can just be an ordinary person.”
The show has been a turning point for Kirk, who has suffered horrific transphobic and homophobic abuse both at home in her real life and online on her YouTube channel.
“Occasionally the prejudiced walk among us and you bump into them,” she said. “But it’s one of the veins with the internet.
“Trolls are targeting women at large. Unfortunately, the internet provides people with this feeling of anonymity and some probably quite reasonable people turn into horrendous individuals when they think nobody knows when they’re doing it.”
For Kirk, a lot of the discrimination is driven by a lack of awareness around trans issues as well as political rhetoric.
“You could contribute a large part of the rise in harassment to people seeing the political attitude and thinking it is ok to act in horrific ways to transgender people because someone as influential as the president of America is doing it.
“It has done so much damage to the progress that had been made over the last ten 15 years,” she added.
However, she insisted that representation on television shows like Biggest Little Railways is going to be one of the leading ways to combat the discrimination of minorities.
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“I think television is quite often the trailblazer for many things.
“Showing these images has made people more socially accepting of minorities. I look back to even when I was young I can remember portrayal of trans and gay people on television. We were ridiculed. We were treated as weird freaks.
“But now we’re moving so far away from that and I think that that’s a really good thing that you can have somebody people can see that’s just an ordinary person doing ordinary things.”
She went on to add that she doesn’t see herself as a “role model” but she feels it’s “important to be seen doing things where it’s not about everything being transgender this or transgender that.”
“It’s about regular ordinary normal things. We’re just normal people like everybody else, it doesn’t matter what packaging we come in,” she added.