It’s hard being a journalist sometimes. We get called phone hackers, vultures, sleaze merchants. We torture ourselves over death knocks and that slight thrill we feel when hear about disaster. Last week I had an experience that reminded me of the sensitive side to journalism.
Over Skype, I interviewed a young transgender man about his experiences coming out as trans and undergoing hormone replacement therapy. At times I felt uncomfortable, asking this young man to relive traumatic memories, but I think the experience was overwhelmingly positive for both of us.
I learned a lot from him and he seemed to enjoy having the chance to tell his story. At the end of the interview, he spoke of his relief at meeting a journalist who wasn’t out to sensationalise and distort transsexualism – a pertinent issue for him, given the recent reporting on the UK’s first so-called “male mum”.
I’m writing the interview up now in the style of the Guardian Weekend magazine’s ‘Experience’ feature. In fact, this post was written as a break from struggling to cut down a 4,000 word transcript of one of the most interesting chats I’ve had into a 1,000 word first person piece. The desire to honour his story and do it justice feels like a far greater pressure than tomorrow’s deadline.
Anyway, I thought I’d share this little story with you because it reminded me why I want to do this job. To inform, to throw light on hidden lives, and to tell fascinating stories in the process.