Here’s a Google hot-tip: if the quiz night question starts: “In what year did…”? The answer is probably 2016. For the transgender community 2016 was the year that trans storylines broke into mainstream US cinema and TV, and Jeffrey Tambor celebrated his Emmy by hoping that it would be the last time a trans-female role was played by a non-trans actor. 2016 saw the first transgender person to address a major party convention, and another take a staff role in the White House. The trans movement has come a long way on the back of tireless individuals making the case for trans-equality and visibility. That activism has been reflected in the response of people around the world, who have chosen to tune in and pay attention.
However, we are also reminded of the many struggles that continue for the transgender community. 2016 is also the most deadly year on record for transgender people with 23 reported murders in the USA and counting. This year also saw non-transgender legislators begin to pass laws about where transgender people can use a bathroom.
At the start of Transgender Awareness Week, we both celebrate the progress that has been made and reflect on the important work that must continue. To help share stories of transgender people as regular people, doing regular things, while also shining a light on the extraordinary daily challenges that community still faces we created #transvoices. This is a series of short films showcasing three remarkable individuals: Mara Kiesling, Evan Young and Jasmine Morrell, who are all using technology to support their communities, build their businesses, and help improve the lives of trans people.
There are many trans-people that work at Google as well. 2016 saw the first internal trans-conference in New York and trans-Googlers and their allies even created a Trans@Google education program for non-trans employees. As a transitioning Googler people tell me I'm brave, but really I am very lucky to be surrounded by supportive colleagues in an organization committed to creating a workplace where you can bring your whole self to work - even when you're learning who that self is.
In making our films we wanted to give the stories an authentic voice so #transvoices has a trans Director and Consulting Producer in Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker, who are well known for their trailblazing work on the set of Transparent. Many of the crew who worked behind-the-scenes in making the films for #transvoices identify as transgender.
We also skipped the normal focus on transition. Transitioning is a crazy, difficult period in any trans person’s life, but just like you, trans people would far rather be remembered for their work, for the families they nurture, and the businesses that they build. In #transvoices we showcase three of those (unusually awesome) everyday lives.
Nov 14-20 is Transgender Awareness Week. Please take a moment to watch, or to find out more about trans lives. We hope that Mara, Evan and Jasmine’s #transvoices stories can inspire you and yours, as much as they inspire us, and we are really proud that Google’s products have been able to play some part in helping them on their journey.