Friday, October 28, 2016

I Had A Phone Call Yesterday

From a reporter from a Connecticut newspaper, she saw that there was a webinar Monday and the organization that I am the Executive Director of we part of the webinar and she wanted to learn more of the problem that trans people have in homeless shelters.

As Dawn Ennis wrote in her keynote talk at Fantasia Fan and latter published on her blog “The Media Is Not Your Friend” I am always leery of talking to reporters because you never know how they are going to spin it.

I was baptized under fire; I was in Washington DC back in 2007 lobbying for ENDA when I was interviewed by WTSP Ch. 10 from Tampa Bay Florida. When we were on the Capitol steps for a group photo a report who was following Susan Stanton around asked me if I was going to meet with my legislators and I said yes. Well when I went for my appointment there was the news crew waiting for me, after I came out of Congressman Larson’s office they interviewed me for about five minutes they only used “I don’t think the bill will pass this year and we are in it for the long haul.”

What I learned from that interview was talk in “sound bites” they will edit your answers down to a few seconds and spin it the way they want (they called me a season professional).

Since then I have been interviewed probably five or seven times and if you ever see me doing an interview you can almost see the gears turning in my head trying to keep from saying something that might be used out on context and frame the question in a ten second sound bite. Once I was being interviewed by a woman reporter that I was about a head taller than her and the camera man was standing on the road and we were standing on the edge of the sidewalk. The first thing that I thought of was the camera was looking up at me and I was looking down on the reporter so I stepped off the road on to the street, now I was still looking down at the reporter but she was just below me and not a foot shorter, also the camera was at eye level with me.

The best interview was by a channel 8 reporter and the worst was on Face the State. The channel 8 interview was about 2 hours long and they did an excellent report and the worst was live-to-tape and the host just kept on talking about bathrooms and locker rooms.

The other thing that I learned is how not to answer a question just like a politician (Ugh… yeah I know) but you have to do it. After the third time I answered the “locker room question” I didn’t answer him but instead talked about how there was never a been an incident since the law was passed in 2011 nor nationally since the first law was passed in 1975.

What Ms. Ennis said in her keynote speech is that the media is not our friend and that is how you have think when you are going to be giving an interview and go in thinking the worst. But the thing is we have to give interviews to get our message out. When the hearings were going on for the gender inclusive non-discrimination bill we needed to counter the opposition interview, we couldn’t let their view be the only one heard.

One of the things that Dawn said in her talk was that the TV crews like to get video of us walking so they can have stock footage of a trans person. When I heard that I thought ugh, they got footage of me walking both in the channel 8 footage and also in Washington DC. The cameraman walked backward down the hall as I walked to my Congressman’s office, we can see me trying not to laugh as he did that.

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