In this recently released British Starbucks commercial, a trans teen is repeatedly "deadnamed," which is when someone is called by a name that they don't identify as anymore. In this commercial, titled "Every name's a story," the protagonist is repeatedly addressed as "Jemma," the name he was given at birth that he no longer identifies with. You can visibly see how uncomfortable he is when people call him by his name. He feels ashamed when his birth given name is called or when his dad introduces him by this name.
He doesn't feel that Jemma is his identity... because it's not.
In the ad, when his drink is ready, he hears the barista say "James."
And James smiles.
It felt relieving for James to be addressed by his actual identity. It can be difficult for trans people to correct pronouns and change their names. Sometimes there are barriers, like identification cards, medical history, or birth certificates, that prevent a trans person from using the name they want. Other times, there are different factors, like fear of rejection or fear that their parents will lack acceptance.
Trans people deal with a lot of setbacks to be who they are, and this ad is a perfect representation of these barriers. Starbucks calls the campaign #WhatsYourName. This campaign was meant to call out the lack of trans representation in the media. Starbucks has also partnered with a UK charity called Mermaids, an organization whose mission is to help gender diverse children and their families.
I love how Starbucks wants trans people to feel comfortable in their establishment, just as it should be.
Not only is this a genius marketing tactic to show trans people that they are welcome in Starbucks, it also sets the precedent for other companies to promote inclusivity. Trans people deserve to be comfortable everywhere they go. And there's more to this ad campaign — Starbucks is encouraging people to open up about how Starbucks has helped their transition.
This trans individual tells the story of how Starbucks has helped his transition:
There are more videos just like this on Starbucks' website.
Of course, things can always be improved for trans people, like how many trans Starbucks employees have difficulties getting gender reassignment treatment from their Starbucks employee insurance plan, and... oof. If Starbucks wants to represent equality they need to make access better for medical treatment for transgender individuals.
Starbucks definitely has a lot to work on, but this is a step in the right direction.