International Transgender Day of Remembrance: PR for Social Change

November 19, 2021

group of people at A Day of Trans premiere group of people at A Day of Trans premiere

by Kristofer Zhu, Public Affairs Manager, Golin Beijing

The International Transgender Day of Remembrance is a somber day to draw attention to the continued brutality and persecution experienced by trans and gender-non-conforming people worldwide.

As part of the agency’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiative, Golin China has partnered with independent filmmaker and LGBTQ+ rights advocate Yennefer Fang to promote the release of her latest documentary, “A Day of Trans” (2021). Inspired by Fang’s own life experience, the film uses an interview-style approach to describe to the audience how the lives of the transgender group in China have been dramatically transformed as the country’s economy continues to grow.

During our pro bono partnership with Yennefer Fang, the team learned about issues affecting transgender individuals of different ages, classes, educational backgrounds, and income levels. We have also realized how powerful the public relations tools can be in fostering social discussions about institutionalized, systematic barriers. When we use public relations for social change, we can reveal aspects of the social order that otherwise are difficult to see and raise the public’s awareness about assumptions rarely questioned or scrutinized.

One of the many assumptions about the trans community is that “transgenderism” is a contemporary or white, middle-class western term. Yennefer Fang tries to dispel this misconception by giving the four transgender protagonists a platform to voice their lived experiences.

We live in a society intolerant to vulnerability, so it is crucial to recognize that violence against the transgender community can be a byproduct of ignorance, hatred, transphobia, transmisogyny, and racism. Many of those slain are trans women of color and minority groups.

For PR agencies, we can only create meaningful change for clients in diverse markets when we are intentionally diverse. Public relations professionals must play a more prominent role in social progression, including paying more attention to marginalized communities and understanding their views of reality. It is the people who have the power to solve the problems, and it is the people who have the unique perspective that can offer solutions.

Today, The Trans Day of Remembrance serves as a constant reminder of how much work we still must do, as transphobia continues to target and slay trans people for merely existing.

Despite ongoing prejudice, trans people continue to be at the forefront of activism. Although activism sometimes seems to be a word with an intrinsically negative connotation, historically, liberty almost always requires a sacrifice, which sometimes can mean individual lives are lost. However, this year, our pro bono partnership with Yennefer Fang has encouraged us to reassess the definition of activism.

We must be part of the social change. We must continue to educate ourselves on the critical trans issues, and broader issues facing women and minorities. Everyone should have the right to live and pursue their dreams visibly.

But is radicalness really a prerequisite to civil rights? Perhaps nowadays, no one can answer this question entirely because as society evolves, people’s method of making their voices heard has also transformed. People can now tell their own stories and set the agenda via social media.

Yet, for many transgender people out there who still suffer disproportionate discrimination and fear of physical violence, using the power of PR can help amplify their voice and start that vital discussion around the critical issues that face their community.

Advocacy is indeed the nature of public relations, and it might just be enough to move one step closer to achieving more equality in the world.

A Day of Trans” (2021) documentary is available on Vimeo and YouTube.