The importance of representing trans people in advertising
Despite a rise in LGBTQ+ representation in advertising, trans people are still woefully underrepresented.
When Starbucks released its #whatsyourname advertising campaign, certain corners of social media exploded.
The advert, created by Iris, saw a trans man, James, navigating his everyday life. We watched as his family and strangers misgendered him, calling him by his birth name, Jemma. It culminated in a Starbucks where he successfully tried out his name for the first time, asking for ‘James’ to be written on his cup to be called out by a barista when his drink was ready. Finally he could hear his own name.
It was a simple ad that told an important story for thousands of people. Grounded in research, this was a story familiar to many trans people who have used Starbucks to test out different names to find the one that suits them.
It was an authentic trans story told by a major brand, it wasn’t told during Pride and was supporting a grassroots charity. Here was the representation that people had been craving.
Much has been written about how the LGBTQ+ community has been gaining more representation in advertising. But the T has largely been missing, with only 0.3% of adverts featuring transgender people for a community making up at least an estimated 1% of the population, according to a study by Channel 4.
Despite these small numbers, it is worth telling their stories both from a business and moral perspective.