A salute to Munroe Bergdorf
Munroe Bergdorf is a British model and activist who has walked several catwalks including at the world-famous London and NYC Fashion weeks. She became the first transgender model in the UK for L’Oréal. Described as ‘a cornerstone of London’s trans scene’ by the Evening Standard in 2014 and as a ‘powerful and unstoppable force and the world should take notice” by Teen Vogue back in 2018, it is fair to say Munroe’s impact has certainly been profound.
Over the last few years, the model and activist has gone from strength to strength becoming globally recognised for her activism by holding large organisations and senior individuals in the public eye to account. Earlier this year she was appointed as a UN Women UK Changemaker.
Challenging gender and identity stereotypes
Munroe debuted her television channel ‘What Makes a Woman’ in 2018 that featured on Channel 4, where the documentary explored the changing perceptions of gender and identity while challenging existing gender stereotypes in modern society, ultimately solidifying Munroe as an integral figure and progressive voice in UK culture.
Her immense achievements include being awarded Changemaker of the Year at the 2018 Cosmopolitan Awards and winning Campaigner of the Year at the annual LGBT+ Awards in 2019.
‘Transitional’ – new book out in July 2021
Using her social media following, Munroe uses her platform to bring light to ‘taboo’ topics and give voices to the most marginalised in our society driving forward positive changes on issues around feminism, diversity and LGBTQI+ conversations. Munroe is often featured on national and international media outlets, where she is a published writer for British Vogue, Grazia and The Guardian, speaking about matters of race, gender and sexuality.
In July 2020, Munroe signed a book deal with the UK’s largest independent publishing house, Bloomsbury, where Munroe will publish her book titled ‘Transitional’ in July 2021 exploring themes of gender, sexuality, identity and race.
Munroe reflects on growing up and the challenges she faced as a child, knowing she didn’t fit into the stereotypical social and gender norms, revealing, ‘I didn’t have many friends because I was very effeminate. People thought I was a girl because of the way I talked and walked and held myself – I had 80 My Little Ponies … Then at high school I loved Clueless and Sabrina the Teenage Witch while everyone else was watching football. I liked boys but I also liked girls. I didn’t see the rigid gender outlines everyone else saw. I didn’t fit in’.
Aratrust salutes Munroe for raising consciousness for a better tomorrow
Aratrust salutes Munroe’s determination, following her experiences of being bullied in school and being isolated from her friends, to be an inspiration for young people. She says ‘I want to help to be the catalyst in inspiring young people to aim high and not feel like they can’t do something because of their identity. I genuinely thought I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I’ve achieved because of my gender identity. I just thought that that was my way because I hadn’t seen it. If young people can see the possibility of what you can achieve, hopefully they can then achieve more things that my generation haven’t been able to’.
Aratrust supports the Black trans community
“Black transgender women are navigating four pandemics right now: COVID-19, racism, transphobia and misogyny. I hope that the #blacklivesmatter movement continues to extend to the Black trans community. I want society to recognise our humanity, to offer us opportunity, to keep us safe and encourage us to live authentically. Too many Black trans women are being murdered and often without justice. We need this violent narrative to end”.
As a progressive and influential voice on the issue of diversity across different spaces, Munroe’s comments on the power of the Black Lives Matter movement, from the viewpoint of a Black Transgender woman and her hopes for the future, are strongly supported by Aratrust
Findings from Stonewall’s research
Aratrust adds that the importance of the work Munroe and others are doing cannot be underestimated, particularly in the light of research conducted by LGBTQ+ charity, Stonewall. The research illustrates that Black and Minority Ethnic individuals face discrimination based on both their sexual orientation and their race even from within the LGBTQ+ community. The most shocking findings from Stonewall’s report are highlighted below:
- Half of black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people (51%) said they’ve faced discrimination or poor treatment from the wider LGBT community.
- Black LGBT people: three in five (61%) have experienced discrimination from other LGBT people.
- More than a third of trans people (36%) and 26% of LGBTQ+ disabled people say they’ve experienced discrimination from within the community.
Broadcasters’ diversity initiatives and targets
Aratrust finds it encouraging that Munroe is often seen in the Media and on TV as the face of the LGBTQI+ community, and we welcome initiatives by organisations such as the BBC, ITV and Netflix to improve the representation of under-represented groups especially Black and Minority-Ethnic members of LGBTQ+ community who face ‘double-discrimination’.
These broadcasters have outlined some of their diversity initiatives and targets moving forward that include:
- The BBC announced that 20% of off-screen talent must come from under-represented groups, including ‘those with a disability or from a BAME or disadvantaged socio-economic background’. It also plans to ringfence £100m of its existing TV commissioning budget over three years (2021/22-2023/24) for productions including diverse representation, talent and/or diverse-led companies.
- Netflix requires a LBGTQ+ writer and/or consultant for LBGTQ+ characters that will feature heavily within a series and/or for series with LBGTQ+ themes. Transgender actors should be cast in transgender roles. There should also be at least one BAME Head of Department, Producer or Director on every show.
- ITV has adopted new diversity criteria in its commissioning strategy, with programmes needing to demonstrate two on-screen and off-screen measures to drive diversity and inclusion in their production to be eligible for commission.
Aratrust says: the more individuals stand up to bullying and challenge systemic racism and gender discrimination like Munroe Bergdorf, the sooner meaningful CHANGE will happen.