Is it sad when commercialism makes larger strides in inclusivity than our own culture does? After all it is an industry that truly makes money on just about anything it can. There are fans that boast clique phrases from RuPaul’s Drag Race like; #Hunty. Sweatshirts that show the latest viral video stills, mugs to sport your favorite Meme, and now Hallmark will be selling cards to celebrate the transition process for transgender people. Does it help advance the movement for inclusivity or does it seem to trivialize the sentiment? There has already been an upswing in the amount of LGBTQ friendly cards with the legalization of LGBTQ marriage, but how does this weigh in with things like transitioning surgery.
We are a marginalized community, there is not getting around that. We are one of the few minorities that discrimination against is legal in many states, we can lose our jobs, living accomodations, abd be turned away from public access of services simply because we do not follow into what some call societal norms. It happens everywhere and there is no escaping it, for now. It used to be if we wanted to find cards that celebrated milestones in our journey as LGBTQ people, we had to go to LGBTQ bookstores for card companies who actually made cards for us, However, that has been changing for some time now. Larger stores, like Hallmark , are carrying cards to celebrate Gay Marriage or even coming out. An article was recently sent to me about Hallmark starting to carry cards for transition surgery for transgender people. So the question becomes, how has the mindset of commercialism moved ahead of societal acceptance and will this help us move forward.
Dont get me wrong, I think it is great to see a multimillion dollar company like Hallmark making these types of cards. After all, there are cards for almost every other occasion. It is a way to celebrate and show support for our friends that are going through this event. They do have an uplifting message, ones reads “You’re becoming who you have always been,” “How wonderful is that?” At present, there seems to be only two cards that are listed in the topic of “Transitioning,” I am sure that will grown as sales pick up. They have only been on the market since May of 2018. A simple search for LGBTQ cards turns up roughly 62 cards total, so that’s less that 1% of LGBTQ cards they carry but much more than they have carried historically. How long it can last or how much it can grow depends on how it is received and how popular it will be. Commercialism changes focus as the wind blows, so while it is a hot button topic at the moment how will it be received in the future.
As a homosexual, I am constantly aware of how commercialism is based around heteronormative practices. It is the same with every industry because there are reported larger numbers of heterosexual people than those that aren’t. I admit, I am not a person who is always on the lookout for a cards for a specific occasion, but there has always been a void of those that captured events that could be worded to sounds more LGBTQ positive. This is a step in that direction. Will this change mindsets of those who ally against us? No, sadly they will be the voice that says how this business is catering to a vulgar part of life, giving special privilege to some because they complained to get it.
Recently, there was also the new underwear brand Marco Marco that designed their underwear with transgender people in mind. According to Attitude Magazine “Designer Marco Morante told Mic: ‘I wanted to create a space to celebrate trans bodies. This was an opportunity for their presence to be undeniable and reinforce that trans is beautiful.’ He used prominent transgender models for his fashion week debut this past summer. The names like Gigo Gorgeous, Carmen Carrera, and Laith Ashley were some of the many used for his runway. Morante is a long time supporter and designed for the LGBTQ community, so this only seemed like an appropriate next step. You can check out some behind the scenes images by following Laith on Instagram under his handle @laith_ashley. One of the attendees to the Marco Marco event was Laverne Cox who is the founder of the movement #TransIsBeautiful. She was quoted as saying, “When I started #TransIsBeautiful 3 years ago I wanted it to be a way for trans folks to celebrate what makes us uniquely and beautifully trans… It wasn’t about how cis we can look but rather about celebrating those things about us that are uniquely and beautifully trans.” Want to check out the runway show, see below.
What truly saddens me is that the commercial industry is so much further along that that of our society as a whole. Sure there is the argument that as long as there is a dollar to be made they will support it, but it doesnt change the fact that so many designers are pushing for inclusivity when our own government is doing what it can to repeal any laws that have already been passed. I am all for the forward momentum that this causes and wish more companies would take to the inclusivity approach, the fashion industry especially as this is an avenue that hasnt been fully explored for the needs yet. What does disturb me about this trend is the whole “Here today and gone tomorrow” approach that seems to happen in commercialism. When the buzz dies down, will there still be the same push forward. We must encourage it to continue. Invest in those that invest in us and show that we want this change to continue. Be the object of the change you desire. Make it happen.