THE LEVESON INQUIRY – Transgender People in the Press – Helen Belcher’s Evidence

(Image BSkyB, the BBC and ITN).

Well what can I say about this other than well done Helen Belcher.

When she sat down with the eyes of the world upon her and I suspect with many a journalist listening closely, she sat with confidence and composure.

This lasted approx 50 minutes and needed to be said. I think it is very good timing that the scandals that brought about the inquiry seem to be an exact time when Trans Media Watch are logging the newspapers.

There are a few bullet points I will list below from notes I took during her evidence that I will list.

Respect for other groups – Press For Change was mentioned, this is important in an historical context and give due reverence to other groups that play an equal role, it would no doubt have been tempting to have TMW appear as the middle of the community.

The Gender Recognition Act – This was mentioned countless times, the only downside to this is that it does not protect those who are in transition (this was mentioned), and of course ‘personal disclosure’ – selling your story for example. This may well become the case in future, in other words, buying the right to call someone a ‘tranny’ with their consent for payment.


Objectification – This is something I have been on about for 10 years or more and have mentioned ‘othering’ on the TMW Facebook pages since I joined it. Helen using the term Transgender Person TRANS PEOPLE, is VERY important. As this will be recorded forever, so it will be absorbed by those who are unsure how to address the community. In line with the disabled community’s ‘People First’ campaigns, this is great and something I am truly happy about.

(Image BSkyB, the BBC and ITN).
Helen Belcher holds her ground.

She was well prepared – there is so much ‘ammo’ she could have used to demonstrate abuse in the press, much of it goes back decades. The subjects were carefully chosen and their anonymity respected. As the great Sun Tzu suggests battles are won before you even leave the barracks, and the sheer amount of abuse in the media allowed for some cherry-picking with cases that clearly raised some eyebrows.

Effort and preparation- I tend to judge people by the time and effort they put into something, even if it doesn’t bear fruit. I spend all my time archiving clips and logging, support etc. She has put in the same effort I would have put in if not more. I therefore doff my cap.

Appearance – She mentioned on TMW that “If you want to risk cracking your screen!” I think she is doing herself down, if you look over the shoulder’s of the officials you will see all the women looked similar very little make-up, and business-like. TBH I am glad she wasn’t ‘dun-up like a dog’s dinner’ (Devon saying), as that could have played into the hands of the abusers. With the greatest respect to Grayson Perry, if she was dressed like ‘Claire’ giving the same evidence it would have detracted from the importance of what is being said. Plus she is a ‘normal woman’ in that, she is not some supermodel there to advance her celebrity career, she had one job and did it well. Thank goodness for ‘normal’ trans peeps 🙂 (If that’s not an oxymoron).

(Image BSkyB, the BBC and ITN).

Confidence – This is quite important, even if a person does not know what they are doing it is important to appear that they do – just ask a junior doctor. However this was not an issue she was confident and knowledgeable about her subject, and of course although faced with very expert interrogators, she held her side very well and if indeed she was nervous I couldn’t spot it! She was also well paced in her evidence, it would be so tempting to rush it and want to get it over with and get away and escape this stressful situation. She clearly understood the importance of being slow and considered in what was being said, one slip could have created a lot of resentment.

We as individuals cannot be good at everything, we all have our own skill-sets, this is clearly Helen’s.

Well done, top job – something I do not say often!

We have this logged in our archives. You can however still watch the video of evidence here, we just archive it to ensure we will always have it. http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/hearing/2012-02-08pm/ 50mins in. Unfortunately we cannot play that material here without a licence in line with their terms and conditions so you will have to visit their site to watch it.

You can read the submission here http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Submission-by-Trans-Media-Watch.pdf

You can read the transcript here http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Transcript-of-Afternoon-Hearing-8-February-2012.pdf

Ice Maiden