Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Study shows Disparity in Jamaican LBT media coverage vs MSM

I just got a chance to read the document created by a new women’s empowerment group for same gender loving persons and the first question that came to mind is where are previous entities/bodies such as lesbians in action (LIA), AJAWO (Jamaica Women’s Wheel), Couture Elements, CE(party element discontinued),

 Womenforwomen (a derivative of LIA), Underlined Response(sister to CE) and other same gender women centric outfits that simply come and die or go dormant after a short run with continuity towards visibility and or change. Could someone also tell me where is PRIDE in Action?

Aphrodite’s P.R.I.D.E Jamaica, APJ with which I will declare interest as its volunteer Outreach Assistant has been quietly working on the ground but with very little help from the more established outfits, this disjointed advocacy overall has been our major downfall in addressing several issues including homelessness and the very overlooking of SGL matters. I hope Women’s Empowerment for Change (WE-Change) is not another limited time wonder as others before and simply go away when the activists get bored or fizzles. Frankly speaking as a gay man with some over twenty years experience in advocacy and working or partnering with women’s groups I am tired of short term advocacy and indeed oversight by the very main LGBTQ advocacy itself namely JFLAG.

Some examples via my previous rants and podcasts:


For too long the focus has been on MSM matters, homo-negativity and homophobia with law reform as the major goal as welfare and cohesive community development is secondary in the groundswell so urgently needed. We have seen serious issues hitting the L & B in the LGBTQ population grouping and virtual silence from JFLAG and others; the oversight has to be solved internally first before other needed investigations can occur, be that as it may let us review what was found by WE-Change eh. It is understandable that SGL women do not go through the kinds of incidents and visible outcomes as their MSM counterparts but recent incidents in the last three years; just by observation suggests butch identified women in particular are having a rough ride especially as LGBTadvocacy goes mainstream with a face to boot and not as previous years when it was faceless.

Anyway the group describes itself excerpted below:

Women’s Empowerment for Change (WE-Change) is a rights-based, women-led, community-based advocacy group committed to increasing the participation of lesbians, bisexual and transgender [LBT] women in social justice advocacy in Jamaica and the Caribbean. WE-Change was founded by twenty LBT women out of a need to strengthen the women’s movement within the LGBT community given LGBT advocacy spaces in Jamaica have been largely controlled by, and focused on men, which has inadvertently marginalised and invisiblised women. In May 2015, the organisation was officially launched in Kingston, Jamaica.

Our Vision

WE-Change envisions a society where the rights of every person are recognised, respected, and protected, and where duty bearers and caregivers commit to creating an enabling environment for every person to contribute to the sustainable development of Jamaica.

Our Mission

WE-Change is committed to

 increasing the participation of LBT women in local and regional social justice advocacy;

§ creating alternative and safe spaces for LBT women;

§ reducing homophobia and transphobia among duty bearers and caregivers.

WE believe that empowered women transform communities, and are guided by one of the tenets of the 1995 Beijing Declaration, that:

‘Women’s participation in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process, and access to power, are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development, and peace.’

Executive Members:

§ Associate Director - Latoya Nugent, MSc., PGDip, BA.

§ Research & Advocacy Officer - Paige Andrew, BA.

§ Community Mobilisation & Outreach Officer - Nicolette Bryan, BSc.

§ Monitoring & Evaluation Officer - Rochelle McFee, MSc., BSc.


This research investigates whether a disparity exists between media coverage of issues related to gay men and those related to lesbians, bisexual and transgender (LBT) women. Over a four-month period between May 2015 and August 2015 Women’s Empowerment for Change (WE-Change) undertook a media content analysis of the two most trusted and widely read electronic versions of print media in Jamaica. It was found that a considerably wide disparity exists between media coverage of LBT women and gay men. Matters specifically concerning LBT women were rarely discussed over the period, while those related specifically to gay men populated the media in significantly more numbers. WE believe that this research and its findings can be useful for organisations that work with, and for LBT women, and for raising awareness about the unique challenges faced by this invisiblised and vulnerabilised community. More information in traditional and new media can assist with the education of Jamaicans on issues pertaining to LBT women and this has the potential to change the attitudes of many Jamaicans towards the LBT community and the attitudes members of the community have toward self.


The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement in the Caribbean has always been dominated by gay men. Unfortunately, the issues which are brought to the forefront by activists and covered by traditional and new media tend to make lesbians, bisexual and transgender (LBT) women invisible. Issues such as sexual violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights and intimate partner violence (IPV) in LBT relationships are rarely discussed. This lack of information on LBT issues has an impact on both the attitude many have towards LBT women and the attitude LBT women have toward self.

The formation of Caribbean women-led groups for LBT women such as WOMANTRA (Trinidad), United and Strong (St. Lucia), Women’s Way Foundation (Suriname) and Quality of Citizenship (Jamaica) have ensured that issues relating to LBT women have become part of the discourse in the region, and have made information about issues affecting LBT women more easily accessible. However, it is important to note that the LGBT movement is still heavily focused on issues concerning gay men and by doing so, inadvertently silences LBT women. Given the role of media in society, it is plausible that inadequate coverage of LBT women’s issues in media may correlate with the invisibility of LBT women’s issues in the LGBT community and wider society.

Many persons rely on media as the primary source of information in any country, therefore, if the LBT community is rarely topical, it will have an impact on the knowledge level of the general population about the community, and even the knowledge level the community has of self. This is in keeping with the Agenda Setting Theory that

The power of the news media to set a nation’s agenda, to focus public attention on a few key public issues is an immense and well-documented influence. Not only do people acquire factual information about public affairs from the news media, readers and viewers also learn how much importance to attach to a topic on the basis of the emphasis placed on it in the news (McCombs& Shaw, 1972).

We share the view of Agenda Setting theorists that media entities influence what we think about and how we think about it; this, we believe is also true about the media’s role in how Caribbean people perceive the LGBT community. If media do in fact pay more attention to issues relating to gay men when compared to those that affect LBT women, this will have an impact on the discourse surrounding LBT

This study seeks to investigate the extent of media coverage for LBT women’s issues and whether a disparity in fact exists between the media’s coverage of gay men and LBT women. The study also delves into how the media present different groups, the general nature and tone of the articles written, and the stories covered. Over the four-month period May to August 2015 we surveyed the Jamaican electronic version of the print media, and investigated media coverage of issues relating to Jamaican LBT women and gay men. We believe this study can potentially give organisations that work predominantly with, and for LBT women, scientific evidence to support anecdotal claims that there is a lack of adequate coverage for LBT women’s issues in Jamaican media, and where LGBT issues are covered they more often than not focus on gay men. The study will quantify the disparity in coverage of gay men and LBT women, given the media entities were monitored on a daily basis over the four-month period. It is expected that these findings will encourage organisations to increase their media output about issues that (uniquely) affect LBT women, which are largely ignored or addressed in traditional media spaces, and find innovative and effective ways of sharing information about the LBT women’s community.


From May 1, 2015 to August 31, 2015 the electronic versions of the Jamaica Observer and Jamaica Gleaner were monitored daily for articles specifically about LBT women, gay men and issues relating collectively to the LGBT community. These two (online) newspapers were chosen because of the wide reach they have individually and collectively across the island, within the Caribbean region, and among the Jamaican Diaspora. Both the Observer and Gleaner have wide readership. In fact, the Gleaner’s website is the most visited local newspaper website in Jamaica (The Gleaner Company Annual Report, 2010) and the Observer enjoys a high readership of its print newspaper, and is regarded by 43% of the population as not only the primary source of news, but the most credible source (Readership Survey, 2008).

A total of 103 articles were monitored and analysed over the four-month period for their content and tone. Notice was also made of the section of the paper which the majority of the articles were found, as well as the nature of the coverage - whether it dealt with the legislative framework, sociocultural, or psychosocial issues. Articles that spoke about general issues concerning the entire LGBT community such as same-sex marriage, homophobia and human rights were labelled as ‘articles where entire community is mentioned’. Articles that focussed on issues concerning LBT women such as rights for transgender women, or spoke directly about LBT women, were labelled as ‘articles where LBT issues are mentioned’; articles that focussed on issues concerning gay men or spoke directly about gay men such as the rights of gay men or the rate of HIV and AIDS among gay and bisexual men were labelled as ‘articles where gay men’s issues are mentioned’.

In cases where articles did not fall neatly into the thematic frames established, the researcher placed them under the theme that would have some relationship with those variables. Such articles were explored in the discussion of findings as they amplify the ways in which overgeneralizations invisiblised and silenced other issues and voices, particularly the voices and issues of LBT women.

Read/download the rest HERE

Now that the recognition of invisibility has been formalised yet again let us see where this leads to real representation of such matters pertinent to our sisters. A case of a chopping incident as carried in the Jamaica Observer and here and the subsequent follow-up was not mentioned especially after the revelation of other side of the equation leading to the incident. It was also posted on this blog, go HERE.

Peace and tolerance


related/previous entries:
Lesbian Longs For More Respect via Letter 2014

Continued oversight or deliberate overlooking of Jamaican SGL Women in HIV Prevention?

A most uneasy discussion on Transgenderism in Jamaica......stigmatizing terms repeatedly used


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