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Very Visibly “Transparent” – Getting Trans issues on the agenda

In the Czech Republic, Trans issues are hardly known to anyone. A disastrous gap for the Trans community.

A gap that Trans organisation “Trans Parent” is determined to fill

A Sogicampaigns.org interview with Viktor Heumann and Helena Zikmundova

Helena, Viktor, tell us more about the “Jsme (We are) Trans” campaigns and these captivating videos

We have always done outreach to the public in many ways, but our organisation Trans*parent doesn’t have a long history of “campaigning”, in other words a strategically rolled out plan to change specific attitudes of a target group.

We are lucky to have a lot of skilled people in our organisation, from social researchers to communication specialists and video artists. So, we worked on a campaign plan proposal and ILGA Europe provided us with some resources to develop and launch the “Jsme Trans” campaign.

(Embed video sterilisation)

Who was the target of this campaign?

The first target group were the Czech Trans* people themselves. The issue of forced sterilisation is still very controversial within the community itself. We wanted to pull all the arguments together into one place to make them accessible to all.

So with the in-house talents we had, we scripted and edited 5 videos, each on a very specific Trans issue.

(Video on the debate on sterilisation)

How were the videos conceived and developed?

We organised focus groups of Trans people to review the rough edits  of the videos. Because the participants were not from within activist circles, their feedback helped us to identify several issues. For example we got the clear feedback that one video was far too negative and depressing and so we totally re-scripted it to change the tone to align with that of the other videos for which we very deliberately had chosen an uplifting tone and positive framing.

We also realised in these focus groups that while the video format is great, the content is much better absorbed when the visuals are accompanied by text, so we inserted written information into the videos to ensure that the content would ‘stick’ better.

Learning theory

Pairing images with words and vice versa is the most effective teaching medium. Research has shown that when information is presented orally, people remember only about 10 percent of what they hear when tested 72 hours later. This figure jumps to 65 percent when pictures are added. Adding text to images has a significant impact on how people absorb the message.


You said Trans people were the first target group. What were the other ones?

It was obvious that even if the primary target group were Trans people, Cisgendered people would also access the videos, so we considered them from the outset as our secondary target group.  We adapted the content in response to the dire lack of information available for Cis people, even within the LGB communities.

(Video on basic concepts, for Cis people)

Dissemination of campaign material is often a challenge. How did you manage it?

For dissemination, we relied a lot on Facebook sharing. To reach Trans people, we reached out to several existing closed groups on Facebook that Trans*people are members of.

To reach Cis people, we relied on both the LGB communities and straight NGO allies. Everyone played game and the videos got disseminated widely.

We observed that 90% of the reactions to the campaign were on embedded Facebook videos. Facebook posts that contained a link to the videos on our site didn’t do as well. It seems Facebook users are happy to stay on FB and don’t want to move away onto an organisation’s website.

However even the embedded videos turned out to be too much for many people and we got a much better outcome from single pictures with short texts as these could be read several times over and were more easily absorbed. People were more comfortable sharing them.

Be opportunistic!

Totally outside of the “Jsme Trans” campaign, we produced a reaction to a popular TV show that treated a Trans character very badly. Our reaction was ironic but also engaging and educational. We got huge traffic due to the immense popularity of the show and to anything relating to it. Perhaps the lesson here is that however strategic your campaign is, you should always use the best opportunities to reach out to the public according to what interests them.

How do you see the impact of the campaign?

Obviously, the impact is not easy to quantify but we did significantly grow the number of our followers on social media. We also did some essential educational work, as no one before us had brought the issue of forced sterilisation to light.

(video on the topic of self determination)

So, what’s next?

 We recently travelled the country and as a result local Trans groups have been set up in 11 cities outside of the capital. We should be rolling out the campaign in these areas too. We should also be focusing more on Cis people and continue their very long and much needed educational journey.

Unfortunately, funding is scarce, and we struggle to keep many of our activities going. Like many activities, campaigning should be envisioned as a long-term strategy, not just a range of limited one-shot activities.

It’s already great that we could start the process. We’ve got a lot of Czech people interested in the lived realities of Trans people and that sows the seeds for future action!

Video on legal change process