UNAIDS in collaboration with the Guyana Trans United (GTU) yesterday hosted a media training session to sensitise local journalists on issues related to reporting on transgender people, with an aim of improving visibility and promoting inclusiveness.
At the opening ceremony of the training session, UNAIDS’ Country Director for Guyana and Suriname Dr Martin Odiit highlighted that the media plays an integral role in how transgender persons are portrayed in society.
Odiit also spoke on the impact that discrimination against persons from the transgender community can have on their wellbeing and how representation in the media can change that culture.
“Because transgender [persons] are living in a society where significant stigma and discrimination against transgender people exists, they’re pushed into situations that may result in higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, sex work, incarceration, homelessness, attempted suicide, unemployment, lack of familial support and violence,” Odiit explained.
Odiit mentioned that with the training session, both organisations hope to improve visibility and inclusiveness in society for transgender persons.
“The media will assist in removing barriers to healthcare. In addition, the media intervention will result in reduced reports of violence and the transgender will be better empowered to cope with economic and social changes while enjoying a better enabling environment,” he stated.
Also speaking at the opening was Executive Director and Founder of GTU Quincy McEwan, who told members of the media, “It’s important that we continue to advocate for the laws and policies to change but we also felt that there is a need to change hearts and minds and we feel that to do this workshop with the media is the first step in order to sensitise the general public and to have the media to bring awareness about trans rights and issues and how to report about trans persons in the media.”
Members of the media were exposed to panel discussions on understanding what it is to be transgender, language choice, use of correct pronouns, and other interactive sessions.