Raise Awareness for Transgender Models in Forever 21
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We are a group of high school students hoping to take a stand on the lack of transgender representation in media. As many transgender youth are forced out of their homes due to lack of acceptance in their families, we believe that it is necessary for major companies, such as Forever 21, to promote transgender models in their advertisements. This is so that young transgender kids, as well as their parents, can feel comfortable seeing people who may not fit into the box our society attempts to build around them. Marketing and advertisement is ingrained in America's DNA; we need to see trans faces in our advertisements in order to normalize the fact that gender and gender expression isn't limited to a binary structure anymore.
One in 137 teenagers identify as transgender, and there are over 1.4 million trans adults in the USA (2/23/17 New York Times). Representation for minorities matters, especially for a group as vilified as transgender people. Around 40% of both trans men and women have attempted suicide in their lives, and the most surprising thing is that the statistics continue through every demographic and background. Trans people clearly aren’t getting the support they need in order to understand that their identity is valid and can be supported (1/2014 The Williams Institute).
Due to the fact that transgender people don’t have media attention or support, trans youth face discrimination in employment, housing agencies, medical providers and in the military. In fact, transgender youth are four times more likely to have an income of less than $10,000 per year (1/22/15 The Washington Post). Even as adults, 64% of transgender people make less than $25,000 per year (07/21/2015 The Huffington Post) Additionally, transgender youth are two times more likely to be unemployed (1/22/15 The Washington Post). Paul Guequierre from the Human Rights Campaign states that: “Recent CAP polling shows that 73% of voters support protecting transgender people from discrimination in employment. Despite this strong public support, no federal law provides explicit legal protections for transgender workers based on gender identity/expression—and only 17 states and the District of Columbia offer these protections. As a result, transgender workers face higher rates of unemployment and are at greater risk of poverty” (9/6/13 Human Rights Campaign). All these statistics clearly show a lack of economic, emotional, and job support for the transgender community.
Not only would trans models be beneficial to transgender people, but it would also help Forever 21. For instance, Vanessa Sheridan from The Huffington Post wrote that companies would able to enlist and retain top talent. Additionally, Forever 21 could “lessen the risk and expense of legal action relative to transgender discrimination claims.” (7/22/13 The Huffington Post). This means that Forever 21 would be safe from legal action and media attention against the company if it becomes more inclusive. Incorporating trans models would also “position a company (especially from a marketing perspective) as a diversity leader within its industry, the larger business community, and society in general.” (7/22/13 The Huffington Post). Lastly, making Forever 21 a trans-inclusive business would “increase the influence of internal branding on the company’s employees, which is often the result of effective, inclusive organizational policies that impact the well-being of all employees.” (7/22/13 The Huffington Post). Therefore, it is imperative that Forever 21 includes trans models in order to benefit both the trans community and the company.
We know media attention for trans people won’t fix everything, but we also understand that representation and support from influential corporations can help. Letting young children and parents see trans people even if in a magazine or poster in a mall would help normalize trans youth and reinforce the idea that gender isn’t binary. As many transgender youth are forced out of their homes due to lack of acceptance in their families, we believe that it is necessary for major corporations/companies to promote trans models in their advertisements so that young transgender kids as well as their parents understand and see that gender expression isn’t limited to a binary structure anymore. Therefore, we petition you, Forever 21, to end your track record of transphobic discrimination and accept transgender models.
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