Does American Apparel Support Transgender Equality?

UPDATE: American Apparel has been in touch with, thanking members for writing the company about the Legalize Trans campaign. According to an email from the company, American Apparel is interested in working with the Legalize Trans campaign. “American Apparel would love to be a part of this great cause and use its resources to contribute in anyway that the organization would like. It’s the right thing to do both as people and as an employer of fantastic and hard working transgendered individuals.” A company official said that an email has been sent to the Legalize Trans campaign, and that they will await a response.

American Apparel scored some major points with gay Americans because of their “Legalize Gay” T-shirts. The shirts have become a popular way of supporting gay marriage and gay equality. The shirts were created after California voters passed Prop 8 in 2008.

According to American Apparel, the company “believes in freedom, expression and equality, things that are inherently condemned in the prohibition of gay marriage.” They also state: “With many of our employees and customers identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, we are a company that is vocal about our support for the protection of gay rights.”

It’s refreshing to hear such vocal support for gay rights coming from such a large company. American Apparel has also made an appearance at Pride rallies and celebrations, partnered with national organizations for marches on Washington, and even carry LGBT-themed publications.

American Apparel’s support for gay rights is definitely appreciated, but the company could do more to help the LGBT community. Oftentimes, the transgender community is an invisible segment of the LGBT community. And though they have good intentions, the “Legalize Gay” shirts encourage transgender invisibility by supporting gay rights without recognizing the struggles of transgender people.

Please ask American Apparel to show their support for transgender equality by selling transgender-inclusive shirts.

Much like gay people, transgender people face substantial discrimination in their everyday lives. They are often denied the right to marry, and face discrimination when trying to find employment, housing, and medical care. In most states, discriminating against transgender people based on their gender identity is completely legal.

The Legalize Trans campaign was created to draw attention to transgender exclusivity in American Apparel’s “Legalize Gay” campaign. The Legalize Trans campaign “serves to emphasize the need for Transgender inclusivity within the dominant national Lesbian and Gay rights movement, and provide public education and resources that focus on navigating legal resources for Trans/gender non-conforming people.”

The Legalize Trans campaign is doing great work to raise awareness about transgender issues and offer shirts that apply to transgender people. American Apparel should step in and do the same. By selling a pro-transgender equality shirt, American Apparel can show that they support transgender equality.

Photo credit: Graham Hellewell