D.C. Rolling Out Trans Ads

Government-sponsored campaign aims to counter discrimination against transgender Washingtonians

By John Riley
Published on August 6, 2012, 4:59pm | Comments

It's all about respect.

That's the message of the latest campaign by the D.C. Office of Human Rights (OHR). Hitting its stride with its current campaign to raise awareness about housing discrimination, the office will soon be displaying advertisements throughout the District aimed at educating residents about the transgender community.

D.C. Office of Human Rights Trans Ads

D.C. Office of Human Rights Trans Ads

The ad will have five variations, featuring two transgender women, two transgender men and one person who identifies as ''genderqueer,'' says Elliot Imse, policy and public affairs officer for OHR. Each ad will include a quote from one of the five participants that will highlight the struggles many transgender people face.

The campaign's mission is threefold: to increase understanding of transgender and gender non-conforming people, prevent discrimination against transgender people, and increase the number of people who are reporting incidents of discrimination, Imse says.

LGBT advocates have told OHR that this new campaign will be the first of its kind to be executed and financially backed by an official government agency.

The messaging of the campaign was developed through working with transgender advocates; various LGBT organizations, such as the local Transgender Health Empowerment and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; the Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs; as well as input from three separate focus groups of transgender or gender non-conforming people.

''The excitement around this groundbreaking campaign is extraordinary, and the Office of Human Rights is proud to be working so closely with the transgender and gender non-conforming communities in D.C. on its development,'' Gustavo Velasquez, director of OHR said in a prepared statement. ''During our photo shoot with the five participants appearing in the ads, I was truly impressed by their courage and commitment to making the District a better place for their community. While they were full of smiles and optimism during the shoot, it was clear they are quite serious about the campaign's mission: to reduce discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming District residents and to encourage victims of discrimination to contact our Office when it occurs.''

The campaign, which will officially launch later this summer, will release preview photos of the ads on its Facebook page in the run-up to the campaign.

Imse said the details of where the ads will air or be displayed is not solidified yet, but added that the OHR has been talking to D.C. transportation authorities in preparation for their launch.