If you live in Washington, D.C., you may soon see an advertisement with a cheerful, smiling person pointing out some things they like to do in D.C. One woman says she likes going to the Smithsonian. A smiling man in a button-down shirt claims to like “playing basketball with the guys.”
Believe it or not, this is the first government-funded trans advocacy ad campaign in the entire country. And D.C. gets it exactly right. The people in the ads look like pleasant, friendly people who might live down the street from you. At the bottom of every ad, it says: “Please treat me the way any [man/woman/person] would want to be treated: with courtesy and respect.” These ads normalize the presence of trans people, and present them as members of the community that D.C. residents know and love.
Some research shows that people who personally know someone who identifies as gay are more likely to have positive attitudes towards the gay community overall. To me, this campaign is like introducing D.C. residents to trans friends. For those who might not know any openly trans people, this takes an abstract concept that might be confusing and makes it real and accessible.
I’m most impressed by an ad featuring a person with short hair wearing a sweater-vest and tie, for which the text reads: “Some think I should dress more like a woman. Some think I should dress more like a man. I may not fit some ideas about gender, and I am a proud part of D.C.” It’s just incredible to see genderqueer representation in a public ad campaign.
Washington, D.C., along with 16 other states, has a law that makes discrimination based on gender identity and expression illegal, and it’s so heartening to see that they truly understand what that means. This campaign represents all kinds of gender expressions, and demands respect for them all.
The campaign has a little nod to viral marketing, too. At the bottom of each ad, it suggests sharing photos of the ads on Twitter with the tag #TransRespect. Looking at tweets with the tag, I don’t see a single negative comment. The support and appreciation for this campaign is overwhelming.