Vast majority of trans people feel ‘unsupported’ by brands, Channel 4 study finds

Trans flag in foreground with lesbian flag in background

Only one in every 10 transgender people feels brands are supportive of their community, a new study by Channel 4 has shown. 

“Mirror on Transgender People” found that not only do the overwhelming majority of trans people feel “unsupported” by brands, but also that brands are reluctant to work with members of the community, fearing of backlash.

The report highlighted that representation of trans people within advertising is lacking, and, when they do appear, portrayals are “commonly sensationalised”. The authors of the report said that to reverse this trend, adverts must focus on the experiences of transgender people – and include moments of “trans joy”.

Brands must hire more trans talent for adverts, avoid depictions of them as a “single, homogenous group”, and portray people’s identity as secondary to the “narrative of the ad”, meaning that adverts should explore other aspects of trans lives outside their gender, the report’s authors concluded.

The study added that brands should “stand their ground against online backlash and take steps to safeguard talent involved in inclusive campaigns”.

Trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney
Dylan Mulvaney faced a backlash after partnering with Bud Light. (Corey Nickols/Getty Images for IMDb)

Pointing out that LGBTQ+ representation in advertising has been “low and stagnant” in recent years, Channel 4 said its research proved the need for “positive, creative and thoughtful portrayals of trans people”. 

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The TV station’s research manager, Samantha Cannons, said: “Our research is clear on why the need to normalise transgender visibility on screen is so important. Levels of LGBTQIA+ representation in advertising have been low and stagnant since 2019, and run the risk of going further backwards if steps aren’t taken to tackle the reluctance of brands to address this.”

She went on to say inclusive adverts have the “potential to shift perceptions” and “connect brands with transgender people in a way they haven’t been able to so far”. 

The study follows several high-profile examples of brands being attacked and boycotted by right-wingers angry at LGBTQ+ inclusion in campaigns. 

Trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney hit out at Bud Light after facing a major backlash for partnering with the beer brand, claiming the company did not “stand by” her after the reaction to the ad made her “scared to leave [her] house”.

After conservatives were seen smashing and shooting cans of the beer, Mulvaney said: “For a company to hire a trans person, then not publicly stand by them is worse, in my opinion, than not hiring a trans person at all.

“The hate doesn’t end with me, it has serious and grave consequences for the rest of our community… to turn a blind eye and pretend everything is OK, isn’t an option right now.”

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