Over the past month, GLAAD staff, including three of its transgender staffers, met with over 30 senior executives at MSNBC, NBC News, Bravo, and Oxygen, and with NBCUniversal's Chief Diversity Officer, for a discussion about fair, accurate, and inclusive media representations of transgender people in both news and entertainment. GLAAD also spoke with executives from the Human Resources department to cover issues related to creating an inclusive workplace for transgender employees.
In a meeting with journalists and producers from MSNBC and NBC News, GLAAD praised programming like Melissa Harris-Perry, Ronan Farrow Daily, TODAY, and Rock Center with Brian Williams for including transgender people as guests and covering issues like transgender military service and anti-discrimination legislation. GLAAD also pointed out ways in which news coverage could begin to move beyond some of the clichés often seen in even the best coverage, like "before and after" pictures of transgender people, and questions about medical procedures. We pitched several story ideas about issues important to the trans community, such as New York state refusing to provide transgender-related healthcare to people on Medicaid, the epidemic of violence facing transgender women of color, transgender athletes, and the success stories to be found in the Trans 100 list.
In a separate meeting with producers and publicists from Bravo and Oxygen, GLAAD presented a brief history of transgender people who have appeared in reality television, and encouraged both networks to find ways to incorporate transgender people into their current and upcoming shows.
Since our meetings, MSNBC has continued to cover trans stories in fair and accurate ways. Ronan Farrow invited GLAAD Senior Media Strategist Tiq Milan onto his show to discuss the TIME magazine cover story about the "transgender tipping point," and Jonathan Capeheart gave an overview of the current state of the movement for trans civil rights in America.
Research shows that around 90% of Americans personally know someone who is gay, lesbian or bisexual, but only 8% personally know someone who is transgender. This means that most Americans can weigh firsthand knowledge when considering defamatory or insensitive media coverage of the LGB community, but the vast majority of Americans have no personal connection to someone who is transgender, so they rely solely on the media for information.
Feedback from the meetings was positive and we look forward to working with these networks to ensure that more transgender voices are included in their programming.