Whilst it’s perhaps not ideal as a Londoner to be writing about gender identity statistics in the US, it is still important note that the number of trans-identifying adults in the United States has doubled in the last decade (now 1.4 million adults). It’s a shame that publicised trans* awareness doesn’t seem to have the same impact in the UK… no major Government or administrative surveys have collected data by including a question where trans people can choose to identify themselves. Publicly collected data on trans people is virtually non-existent! Understandably though, there is a larger base of A-list celebrities in the USA, including trans* celebs like Caitlyn Jenner (below) and Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black).
So, for now, the focus of this blog post will be about the impact of trans* awareness through advertising and marketing in the USA…
In August, Nike aired an ad for the Olympics featuring triathlete Chris Mosier (the first transgender athlete to make a U.S. men’s national team) which had millions of people from the entertainment, creative and advertising industries taking note. Since then, brands like H&M (featuring Caitlyn Jenner), YouTube and Bud Light, have either featured trans* stories/trans*-inclusive messaging in recent campaigns.
Days after Nike’s 30-second spot, Clairol (Procter & Gamble) announced that trans* model Tracey Norman (who had worked for them previously in the 70s), would become the face of the Nice ‘n Easy ads once more. Grey (New York) were behind Clairol’s ad, and Beth Avellini (global group CD) states that “Advertising reflects society as a whole, and there’s been a slow acceptance that’s been happening in society.” I couldn’t agree more! However, there’s always a fear that marketers and creatives will use “the token trans* person” for buying power (which has also been expressed in the LGBT community as a whole), and the rise of trans*-inclusive publicity has brought into question whether these campaigns are for social benefit or brand benefit.
I have to say, the ads mentioned above do have a true sense of authenticity and passion. However, as a cis-gender woman I struggle to allow myself to actually have a strong opinion on this topic because it would never and could never affect me directly. It’s difficult to have 100% belief of genuine intentions when it comes to ads being created by hetero-normative marketers in a hetero-normative society. I have to agree with Chris Edwards (copywriter and author of the memoir, ‘Balls: It Takes Some to Get Some’) who states that “terminology is evolving… it is important for advertisers to do their research and work with advisors to make sure copy and tone resonate with the intended audience.”