Trans people struggling in pandemic

The story from the CBC website interviewed three trans women of colour from Toronto to get their thoughts on how the pandemic has affected their community. (This report was also shown on The National.) Before COVID-19, “their lives were busy and rewarding, full of volunteer work, jobs and school, but the pandemic restrictions put all that on pause, leaving them feeling isolated and worrying about their health and mental well-being.” Yasmeen Persad, the Trans People of Colour (TPOC) co-ordinator at the 519 community centre invited one of the women “to attend weekly cooking classes at the centre where trans people of diverse cultural backgrounds shared dishes and experiences from their homelands.” Unfortunately, the pandemic has shut down the weekly TPOC workshops. On the bright side, however, the 519 will be publishing a cookbook called Cooking with Trans People of Colour later this month. What a great idea!

I’m a little uncomfortable with the photo accompanying the CBC piece, however. I can’t help wondering whether the trans women were coaxed into the pose. If so, they should have resisted the photographer’s subtle coercion. It smacks a little too much of the typical media representation of trans women, and undermines the seriousness of the article. We should practice caution when dealing with the media. We’re a population ripe for exploitation, and despite journalism’s high ideals, there is no shortage of its practitioners who like to tell our stories their way.