November 15th, 2020
I log onto work, with my long black hair down and my nails freshly painted red. I keep my pronouns (they/them) visible on my email signature, my company profile and for a time even on my shirt. Joining my first meeting, I immediately hear: “David, he’s here!” I wince, I correct my colleague and continue to increase awareness of who I am in my gender identity.
As I’m a first-generation Salvadoran American who’s gender nonconforming (GNC), it’s important to me to create spaces for allies to educate themselves and for trans and GNC people to feel seen and included within Google. And as a small business marketer, I work to uplift stories of people who are frequently unseen—in particular, Black or Latino trans business owners.
One of these business owners is Marli Washington, who like many trans or GNC people, began realizing that his gender identity was not aligned with his body. This feeling of incongruity (sometimes called gender dysphoria) can be a daily reality and can compromise a person’s well-being, comfort and physical and psychological safety.
Marli recognized a need in the broader trans and GNC communities for accessible and safe chest binding options—garments used to flatten the chest. So Marli founded gc2b to create better products that allow people to align their bodies with their gender identities—products designed by trans people, for trans people. With the help of Google, gc2b has continued to grow its digital presence to meet a critical need of trans and GNC people around the world.
“Some people might not have the vocabulary or the experience to connect with being transgender; they might be feeling body dysphoria and they don’t know what that is,” Marli says. “So they hop on Google, which has helped us become discoverable to them, and eventually they will find that gc2b exists to serve them.”
While Marli’s products are predominantly for trans men and transmasculine folks, he recognizes the need to do more to support the broader trans and GNC communities’ full diversity. Through special partnerships, like gc2b’s Black Trans Liberation Collection, Marli’s products are able to support nonprofits like The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, whose mission is to end violence against all trans people, especially Black trans women, across the United States.
I’m proud that Google is also a supporter of this critical organization. In June, Google.org donated $500,000 to The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which will provide direct cash assistance to Black trans people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Institute has already distributed $250,000 in cash assistance in 2020. Googler volunteers will provide technical and marketing skills to help The Marsha P. Johnson Institute garner and process cash assistance applications.
At Google, we build our products for everyone, and this includes the trans community. Here are just a few product updates that focus on helping the trans and GNC communities at large:
- On Google Maps, we’re adding points of interest, including cultural landmarks and murals that honor the trans and larger LGBTQ+ community. Check out the Black Trans Lives Matter Mural in San Francisco, for example.
- On Search, users will find a celebratory banner at the top of the results page when looking for terms like “trans rights,” “trans awareness week” or other related queries.
- The Google Play Store is highlighting apps that support the trans and GNC communities.
- Google Assistant is sharing facts about the trans community. Just ask, “Hey Google, how are you celebrating Transgender Awareness Week?”
- Grow with Google, our economic opportunity initiative, is partnering with a number of trans-serving organizations, including local LGBT Chambers of Commerce, to provide free training and resources that help people grow their career or business. Other nonprofit organizations interested in partnering with us can sign up here.
We’re using our social media accounts to help uplift and celebrate the trans community. In September, we launched our Black Trans Lives Matter campaign as part of Google’s ongoing commitment to racial equity.
Marli, and many others in the trans and GNC communities, spread awareness every day by being their authentic selves. Over the past few months, many Googlers—in collaboration with The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, GLAAD, and journalist and equality advocate Raquel Willis—have worked to make this Transgender Awareness Week one that uplifts and centers the trans and GNC communities. I’m proud that my colleagues and so many others are working to support and celebrate trans lives. If you’re interested, you can visit GLAAD’s website to learn more about Transgender Awareness Week.