November 13-19 is Transgender Awareness Week, which is when trans folks and their allies bring attention to the community by educating the public about who trans people are— including sharing experiences and shedding light on issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence that affect them.
Although the advertising industry has been gradually improving their LGBTQIA+ representation, they usually focus overwhelmingly on the "L" and "G" parts of that group. In fact, only 0.3% of ads feature trans people even though they make up at least 1% of the population.
We can't stress enough how important it is to not only include trans people in media but also ensure that they're being properly depicted (without stereotypes, mockery, or shallow messaging). Given that over 50% of Americans say they don't personally know someone who's trans, the ad industry can play a huge role in influencing public perceptions and attitudes about the community.
Here are 5 tips on how advertisers can better approach trans representation:
- Make sure your brand's content doesn't fall into tokenism— meaning that you only make a superficial effort to be inclusive. If you're going to include trans people, your intentions should be in the right place.
Let's say a brand creates an ad featuring a trans character, but it's only a one-time thing in order to meet a certain diversity and inclusion metric. That won't do much good for anyone, so it's important to approach it from a place of empathy and genuine effort.
- Engage with folks in the community as you create these campaigns. One of the most basic necessities while making content with trans representation is that actual voices from the community are heard and incorporated into the campaign.
This can be done by consulting with trans creators and local leaders or ensuring that your own internal team has trans people at the table to share their opinions.
- Not every campaign with trans representation needs to be a "trans campaign." Although it's great to highlight trans identities and experiences in ad campaigns, it doesn't always need to be made into a huge showcase.
Similar to other underrepresented groups, the end goal is to normalize their representation in media across every industry and allow them to simply show up and have their voices heard.
- Incorporate all kinds of folks within the trans community, not just those that seem to fit certain conventional standards. There's so much diversity within the community, and not all folks fall into strict boxes— whether that be their gender expression, physical attributes, or sexuality.
Within the broader scope of queer representation, for example, we often see brands lean towards cisgender white men rather than gender non-conforming people of color because the former identity is more familiar and within their comfort zone.
- Dedicate time to trans representation year-round rather than a one-off during Pride Month or Trans Awareness Week. We talked about this in our Hispanic Heritage Month blog, but the same point applies here.
If you want to establish a strong connection with the trans community, your brand should have consistent communication throughout the year.
We hope these tips were helpful! As is the case for most content with underrepresented groups, if you're ever worried about making a mistake as an advertiser— just remember that simply putting in the effort to improve and self-educate will always be appreciated.
If you're interested in launching a campaign that speaks to your audience during Trans Awareness Week/Month, or any time throughout the year, check out our in-store advertising network!Chat with us