Today we're proud to be launching, along with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, a national version of the "I AM: Trans People Speak" video series and we're calling for the public to submit their own stories. This campaign aims to spotlight the stories of transgender Americans and their allies in an effort to educate the public about the transgender community. The campaign will also seek to empower and encourage transgender youth and adults by sharing stories of people who have faced similar issues.
Watch the trailer video of Laverne Cox, Isis King, Noah Lewis and Kit Yan:
"By providing a place for transgender people, family members and our allies to share their stories, we hope to empower our community and the general public to advocate for transgender equality and move the culture towards acceptance of transgender youth and adults, said Gunner Scott, executive director of MTPC. "With GLAAD's leadership on this project, we will be educating the public and be a resource to the mainstream media about the reality of transgender peoples' lives and the unique challenges they face due to pervasive bias, stereotypes and misunderstanding."
In 2008, a study released by GLAAD found that while around three-quarters of Americans personally knew someone who was LGBT, only 8% knew someone who was transgender. This means most Americans are getting their information about the people who make up the transgender community through the media. And it's all too common to see the media's portrayals of transgender people as unfavorable - often they are seen as the victims of violent crime in news media, or as people on the fringes of society in entertainment media. This project is a way of amplifying the voices of the individuals who make up the transgender community, who can show that other 92% of America that they are far more multi-dimensional than the media would indicate.
"The stories of transgender Americans remain relatively invisible in both national and LGBT media," said GLAAD's Herndon Graddick. "These stories will not only empower members of the transgender community who rarely see relatable stories, but also educate Americans everywhere about the fact that the community is a valuable part of the fabric of our culture. The campaign will also shine a light on the high level of discrimination that our transgender brothers and sisters continue to face in schools, the workplace and in their own neighborhoods."
GLAAD and MTPC will release videos of transgender leaders and allies speaking out in the coming weeks, with participants including:
- Laverne Cox – actress, producer, and writer. Laverne was the first African American transgender woman to appear on a national reality show when she competed on MTV's "I Want to Work For Diddy." The show received the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Reality Series. She later co-created, co-produced and starred in VH1's "Transform Me." She has starred in a number of television episodes and films including Musical Chairs, which opens Friday in select cities. She is also a contributor to the Huffington Post.
- Isis King – model, fashion designer and actress. Isis was the first transgender contestant on America's Next Top Model and most recently appeared in America's Next Top Model All Stars cycle.
- Kit Yan – spoken word artist. Kit was featured in the HBO documentary Asians Aloud. His work has been commissioned by the Census, showcased by the Department of Justice, and taught at universities around the world.
- Noah Lewis – lawyer and advocate. He is a staff attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF).
In 2010, MTPC launched the original "I AM: Trans People Speak" campaign to educate Massachusetts residents about the lives of their transgender neighbors. That campaign has now grown to include the voices and experiences of over 40 local transgender people, family members and allies. Recognizing the need for transgender support and education about transgender issues around the country, this national version of "I AM: Trans People Speak" was developed. GLAAD has partnered with MTPC on the production, outreach and the communications around the campaign.