Being a queer, trans researcher during pride month, I feel like I should be promoting myself
Now is the time to be writing articles about my favourite Pride campaigns, which brands are getting it right, how to walk the walk, and so on. This year, however, I don’t feel the same joy and inspiration that I used to. The politics and culture wars surrounding trans rights have become a huge mental load, a constant source of background anxiety, present every time I watch the news.
I’m proud of who I am, how far I’ve come in my self-acceptance. That said, safe as I am in the UK, in my progressive London bubble, it’s still not always easy being out. I’ve had clients straight up refuse to use my preferred pronouns. I’ve lost friends who turned out to be transphobic. I get weird looks in summer, when more of my gender nonconforming body is on show. I’ve had far more support and acceptance from my social circle than I’ve had intolerance, but still, every day is a reminder that I’m part of a societal group that is for some, not even real.
Pride therefore, feels like it should be a tonic to these day-to-day discomforts. A safe space for the community. I attended my first London Pride when I was 17, the same year I came out as bisexual (I came out as trans many years after). Over the years it has become more commercial, but the community heart of it remains the same. We’re all moving forward, together.
Recently however, being trans during pride month has felt different
Things don’t feel like they’re getting better. In some ways they’re getting worse. Our rights are at the heart of many left/right political debates. They’re a key source of tension between the Scottish and English Parliaments.
Whole US states are becoming no-go zones for trans people, who now cannot access the care they need and used to get. I just don’t feel like celebrating.
As marketers, I feel we need to be aware of these conflicting feelings when representing, promoting and selling to queer people. The push and pull between celebration and, let’s face it, fear. I want people to acknowledge the fact that we have so much to be grateful for, but at the same time, sticking a rainbow on something isn’t going to help ban conversion therapy, or allow doctors in Florida to prescribe life-saving gender affirming care to trans people without prosecution.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so so proud
I’m proud of every person who stays true to themselves no matter what anyone else says. Of all the people who came before me who fought for our right to simply exist. Of young people standing up to protest anti-trans bills in state senate halls. Of community members attending counter protests at anti-drag demonstrations. Of every LGBT+ person and ally who strives for a more equal, accepting future, in whatever tiny way they can. Of myself, for finally being me.
But I’m also angry, scared, anxious and sad. Both things are true. I don’t want us to pretend they’re not.
I’ll be attending Trans+ Pride for the first time this year. It feels more like a protest against the turning of the tide than it does a party (which is the essence of Pride, after all). I hope being there will feel like a celebration as well, especially for the younger members of the community. Everyone deserves to feel proud, and happy.
Featured image: Lena Balk / Unsplash