Kaleidoscope is a documentary about being young, being trans, and how we can all engage critically with the media we hear, read and see. I spent most of this summer working on this programme, and it just aired as part of 2021’s Lights Out series on BBC Radio 4. You can listen to it using the Soundcloud player above or on the BBC website here. Here’s the official description I wrote for the BBC:
What does it feel like to be a child or teenager navigating the ups and downs of youth, under the shadow of constant media scrutiny about your identity, your choices and whether you fit into society?
Transgender kids and teenagers are often spoken about in the media, but rarely get the chance to speak for themselves. In this episode of Lights Out, three young trans people, aged 10, 15 and 16, let us into their inner worlds. Their mums share how media scrutiny of their families affects their lives and an academic in media studies and queer theory reflects on how the media constructs narratives about marginalised groups, exploring why queer people and children are easy targets for moral panic.
Making this doc and doing it right was really important to me – it was one of those ones you pour your whole heart and soul into. And I feel really happy with the final piece. The media in the UK talks about trans people and especially trans kids a lot, and the coverage is frequently fairly hostile and quite misinformed. So I wanted to make a radio programme where trans kids and teenagers would get to be real people, not just symbols in a media debate about their lives.
I recorded with three young trans people, their mums, and a queer theory / media studies scholar called Professor Robert Payne. I am very grateful to all of them for being part of this doc with me. And I’m grateful to Falling Tree Productions (and especially Eleanor McDowall) for commissioning me and supporting me to make this.
I really hope that some Radio 4 listeners will hear this, and it’ll plant the seed of a different way to think about and engage with the idea of trans kids. This is the type of radio I wish I could make all the time, so I’m feeling very lucky that I got to do this.