Here’s How Brands Are Celebrating Trans Day of Visibility

TV networks to social media companies are supporting the transgender community

VSCO partnered with the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and creator Texas Isaiah on a trans portrait series for TDOV. Montage Portraits by Texas Isaiah and VSCO
Headshot of Mary Emily O

Lately, it seems like there’s nothing but bad news and stressful coronavirus updates. That makes a holiday celebrating pride, survival and visibility extra welcome—and Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV) is the perfect way to end an otherwise awful March.

Today, brands like Instagram and VSCO (among others) are showing their support for the transgender and nonbinary communities with special TDOV content in partnership with LGBTQ creators.

Instagram and GLAAD on Tuesday introduced a new weekly IGTV series called #TransLoveStories, with each episode highlighting a trans person and a significant relationship in their life. The first four episodes focus on influencers like Marizol Leyva, who appears with her sister Selenis Leyva (Orange Is The New Black) and model AJ Clementine, who appears with her boyfriend, Ryan.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with GLAAD for International Transgender Day of Visibility and to be sharing our upcoming IGTV series, #TransLoveStories, with the world,” said Ashley Tucker, policy programs associate manager at Instagram. “We hope you are as inspired as we are by these important stories.”

The series kicks off April 6 on the GLAAD Instagram page, but a preview is currently available.

“It’s important for trans people to see that we are part of people’s lives, and also for those who don’t know us to see that we are loved and have partners, friends, family and community,” said Alex Schmider, associate director of transgender representation at GLAAD.

“It’s hard to imagine a life for yourself if you’re not able to see it,” Schmider said, “So sharing these stories about trans people in loving relationships provides a glimpse into what’s possible, allowing trans people to see that we are worthy and deserving of love for ourselves and with others.”

VSCO, the company behind the ultrapopular mobile photography app, partnered with the Marsha P. Johnson Institute to unveil a new series of trans portraits titled Every Image Is An Offering on Tuesday. The portraits of black trans and gender-nonconforming people were a collaboration between community members and self-described “visual narrator” Texas Isaiah, himself a trans creative. VSCO said funding for the project was provided by the brand.

Texas Isaiah for VSCO and Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Texas Isaiah (who asks that people refer to him by his full name) said the portrait series used a “mutual, consensual approach” to arranging locations and other elements. Most of the images were shot in homes or outdoor areas like beaches and streets.

“It is essential to feature the everyday lives of black trans people,” said Texas Isaiah, “and to provide images that do not entirely disregard trauma but provide a fuller aspect of our lives.”

Texas Isaiah for VSCO and Marsha P. Johnson Institute

For this Trans Day of Visibility in the middle of a pandemic crisis, most brands stuck to quick social media posts rather than rolling out more prominent campaigns.

Twitter Open, the platform’s LGBTQ group, posted a short video reminding users of the range of hashtags in use like #TransDayofVisibility, #TDoV2020, and more—each of which was coded to engage a hashflag of a tiny emoji hand waving a blue, pink, and white transgender pride flag.

Twitter Open

Cable networks from Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network to HBO and FX got into the action with posts on Twitter and Instagram.
Cartoon Network

The Ad Council posted a quote from Pose star MJ Rodriguez as part of its ongoing Love Has No Labels campaign, captioned, “Today, we celebrate #TransgenderDayOfVisibility and the lives and accomplishments of the transgender community. You are seen, and you are loved.”
Ad Council

The brand messages were especially welcome to the trans community as a show of goodwill the day after Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed two anti-trans bills into law. One new law prevents transgender people born in Ohio from changing the gender on their birth certificates, while another is the nation’s first statewide ban on transgender girls and women participating in sports.

But while Little’s office began receiving letters condemning the anti-trans law by Idaho-based brands like Chobani, Clif Bar and HP, other elected officials around the country were posting celebratory messages of support for Trans Day of Visibility.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told the trans community via Twitter, “We see you, we support you, and we will always fight alongside you.” New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand posted a message applauding trans resilience, saying, “It takes a great deal of courage to live openly and authentically.”
Caitlin Blunnie

Artists and creatives got into the holiday vibe as well, with some even taking on brand logos. Virginia-based illustrator Caitlin Blunnie offered a trans flag rendition of the missing Kool-Aid man. So that’s where he’s been this whole time.

@MaryEmilyOHara Mary Emily O'Hara is a diversity and inclusion reporter. They specialize in covering LGBTQ+ issues and other underrepresented communities.