THE NEW NORMAL IS 'NO NORMAL'*

A memo circulating through federal agencies last year sought to define gender, effectively erasing those who are non-binary, non-confirming, trans, and within the lines of those communities. Members of the transgender and non-conforming community are struggling daily and now they face an even greater threat - complete erasure.

When a young person hears that their existence and gender identity will not be recognized by their government, they hear that they are not worthy to be a part of that nation. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the messages from a bully pulpit can be powerful in a society that is already hostile. (source)

Beyond ad inclusion, sustained visibility and justice is required to keep these communities not just living but thriving. So what can brands learn? And what can they do?

*Here is an outline created by Ogilvy Pride and published on Campaign (UK) that is incredibly helpful when justifying the need for inclusion from a marketing perspective:

The New Normal is ‘No Normal’

Ogilvy Pride conducted qualitative and quantitative research with 18- to 25-year- olds across the UK to gain insight into their understanding of gender. 

The study covered their attitudes toward gender identity and diversity and their reflection in the media, and included interviews with experts in the field. The study revealed three key findings.

1. Genderqueer discrimination starts with feminine qualities having less value in our society (than masculine qualities)

There was consensus from the research audience that masculine qualities were favoured over feminine ones. This is played out with a general acceptance of genderqueer people with an androgynous presentation, but a strong aversion to genderqueer with a more feminine presentation. 

2. Young consumers are rejecting norms but craving normality

Eighteen- to 25-year-olds do not want to be put in boxes, they reject labels and hence are very open to questioning the current norms of gender and sexuality. ?Both cisgender and non-binary gendered people are open to challenging the binary narrative surrounding gender. Moreover, although several cisgender respondents had somewhat limited exposure to and understanding of genderqueer people, they accepted that there was a gender spectrum and were generally very encouraging of a more gender-neutral society. 

3. TV, media and advertising plays a critical role in educating and driving social acceptance of LGBT+ people, which young consumers want to see

Although lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are still underrepresented in much of the mainstream media, things are changing. Television is offering primetime audiences the chance to "get to know" lesbian and gay characters in soap operas, drama series and sitcoms. However, there is some way to go in terms of positively representing trans characters, as their stories are often reduced to clichés or focused on satisfying cisgender people’s curiosity about the physical aspects of transitioning.

What does this mean for brands?

Be aware of the gendered narrative you script for your brand’s communication to understand the impact of the brand on society ?

Normalise genderqueer people by being inclusive and representative  

With more than 45% of consumers under the age of 34 saying they’re more likely to do repeat business with an LGBT+-friendly company, now is the time to embrace the new "no normal". 

If you need direction in this sensitive time on how to help any of the communities mentioned, please reach out. I can help or I can provide resources. email: michele@toggleteam.com

Sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-advertisers-are-targeting-the-trans-community_us_58a61b67e4b0b0e1e0e20891

https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/coming-out-advertising-lgbt+-representation-ads-falling-short/1436860