Language matters, any marketing team will tell you that. Yet, in the pursuit of selling the newest tech or passing the most principled laws, we’ve allowed the limitations of language to surface. Language helps us communicate, it brings us together, but it also carries with it the prejudice of the past, masked hate as colloquialism. Terms like “master bedroom” relate to times when people owned humans as farm equipment. Hysterical still contains the same Greek root (hystera) from which words like hysterectomy come from. And a word like gender still brings up the limitations and designed roles a person in this country should be relegated to, how they should dress, and how they are allowed to feel.
Language has always been essential to the LGBTQ+ movement. From a word like queer to the acronym itself, language pushes our ideals forward or helps others hold it back. Today, on the Trans Day Of Visibility, we think of the weaponization of words like man or woman. The denial of differences between sex and gender. How hateful people use these words to fuel the misunderstanding and erroneous correlations that have led to the statistics like “Trans people of color have a life expectancy of 35 years.” Quotes like that have been criticized, but we do know that murder and suicide rates against trans people, of all colors, are higher than that of non-trans people. Think about that: The realization of living your life could be a cause of your death.
With the growth of violent rhetoric and actions, there is a greater need for safe spaces in America, but those are going away as well. Legislation is removing participation in sports, outlawing expression in school, and taking away health services, thereby removing some of the spaces most important and most accessible to our trans youth and community. Most recently there has been a direct attack on drag shows, another safe space for the LGBTQ community that only nurtures acceptance.
LGBTQ businesses as safe spaces are also disappearing. LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research (CLEAR) and the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) recently found that nearly half of the LGBTQ-Owned small businesses were denied bank loans. During COVID, banks were bailed out to help the businesses they held loans with, meaning any person without the support of a bank, still had to pay all their bills on their own. Because of this, LGBTQ-Owned businesses were much more likely to close down over the last few years, leaving fewer safe spaces for the community.
These actions are language in and of themselves, against communities that are feared because they are “different”. Language causes that fear, but it can also help us realize we are all human. Neurologist Robert M. Sapolsky has been repeatedly successful in illustrating the reality of gender. “Studies have examined brains of transgender individuals… and consistently… the dimorphic brain regions in transgender individuals resembled the sex of the person they had always felt themselves to be, not their “actual” sex. In other words, it’s not the case that transgender individuals think they’re a different gender than they actually are. It’s more like they got stuck with the bodies of a different sex from who they actually are.” These words are backed by evidence, experiments, and science, something that is appallingly needed to justify the feelings of an individual for some people. In a country of free expression, individualism should be the standard that our democracy lives by, not the thing we try to dictate.
Language matters. The actions of the trans community has become a language of love as others attack their rights. As many Southern States show “Negative Overall Policy Tally” by groups like MAP, the trans community itself has been responding with communal efforts of support. While hate speech is leading to their murder, the trans community gathers in spaces where people dance and celebrate the life they still have. While legislation is using rhetoric to tear down the rights and laws affording equality to all in this country, the trans community has been spreading awareness through their work.
As an LGBTQ-Owned business, we try and use our words to bring people together and spread positive messaging that is so prevalent within all these communities. We bring stories to our clients that we know are important, and shed a light on their work being done. We also employ people who understand these communities. Key creatives led the production of some of our most inspiring and beautiful campaigns. From short videos about trans-owned businesses like Life on Mars or gc2b to larger campaigns like Trans Voices which led to a short film called Umbrella, the language we use must be authentic. We use a language of inclusion and love expressed through the videos we make, events that we put on, marketing campaigns we execute, and messaging we post on social media. In who we hire and what we do, at each step, the values of diversity and inclusion are essential to perpetuating what we believe brings us together as humans: love, passion, and community… these are things being taken away from far too many people.
Trans Day Of Visibility is one of celebration, looking back on our accomplishments and progress over the last several decades. And there has been progress, a lot of it, but today we also think of the words we say, the language we use in our actions, and the unacceptable impending erasure of unifying speech in favor of hate speech.
So today, like every day that follows, we at Xpedition will use our language, our voice, ears, eyes, and minds to see, hear, and ally ourselves with the stories of the trans community to ensure rights are never taken away. We ask that you use your words and your actions to help support those and businesses around you. From supporting groups like the National Center for Transgender Equality, visiting trans-owned businesses, posting to social media with #TransDayOfVisibility, or simply checking out 18 other ways that you can celebrate today.