Google Is Telling More Transgender Stories at a Critical Time for LGBT Rights

Lonelyleap produces #transvoices documentary series

Google is back to celebrate more transgender stories.

Three new documentary-style videos offer a glimpse into the lives of transgender people who are making a difference in their communities, with help from Google's tools. Trans director Rhys Ernst helms the camera, as it focuses on Evan Young, Jasmine Morrell and Mara Kiesling—covering subjects like their work, their clients and their families.

Young, for example, discusses his history of military service, and how he came to his role as president of the Transgender American Veterans Association.

Morrell, meanwhile, explains becoming a tattoo artist, and eventually opening the Spirited Tattoo Coalition, as a safe space to practice the craft.

Kiesling, a longtime activist, shares perspective on transgender activism in Washington, D.C., in her role as the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equity, and the ongoing importance of educating policymakers and the public about what it means to be transgender.

The ads, taken together, are a powerful tool to that end—humanizing diverse individuals as representatives of a marginalized and often misunderstood population.

That kind of visibility is particularly important in light of last week's election results, as the incoming administration of Donald Trump seems poised to roll back substantial federal protections for LGBT populations, and shape a Supreme Court that could still have substantial influence on their legal rights.

The timing is important even more broadly, as well.

"In 2016, we saw over 100 federal policy changes to provide equal and fair treatment of transgender people," says Arjan Dijk, vp of marketing, executive sponsor LGBT, at Google. "Sadly, at the exact same time, state legislatures were passing bathroom bills and there was a steady increase in violence against the trans community. The suicide rate among transgender people is nine times higher than the national average. They experience discrimination and violence, and extreme poverty and homelessness. They struggle not only for their human rights, but to survive at all. I therefore encourage everyone to follow the #transvoices initiative and to think of ways we can bring more justice to trans communities."

Google launched the ads to coincide with Transgender Awareness Week, which runs Nov. 14-20. Ernst, the director, is also a co-producer on Amazon's popular series Transparent, as is Zackary Drucker, who also produced the new spots.

In a company blog post announcing the campaign, Tea Uglow, a trans creative director at Google Creative Labs, acknowledges it has been a banner year for trans people in media. But "2016 is also the most deadly year on record for transgender people with 23 reported murders in the USA and counting," the post reads.

Agency and production company Lonelyleap shot the new ads. The work follows last year's heartwarming Google ad by Venables Bell & Partners about a trans man finding home at a Kansas City gym.

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