Watch a Transgender Man's Bold Journey in Google's New Ad
Since 2012, a vlogger known as Jacobs Wandering has been documenting his transition from female to male in a series of YouTube videos that show him getting his first testosterone shots, shaving his face for the first time, and starting a fund-raising campaign for his top surgery. Most of the amateur video diaries have garnered a modest several hundred views, but a new ad campaign from Google is bringing Wandering's story to mainstream audiences.
The video spot, which has been viewed more than 200,000 times since being uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday, covers a great deal of Wandering's journey in just under three minutes, starting with his childhood and his desire to be more masculine at an early age. "When the idea of starting a transition was brought about, it was like, 'This is it. This is what I've been waiting for. This is what I need,' " Wandering says in the video, explaining his decision to start hormone therapy and undergo top surgery, or the removal of breast tissue. Post-procedure, he says he's excited to get back to the gym and "build this body that I've always wanted."
The short film turns out to be a Google advertisement for City Gym in Kansas City, Missouri, which coincidentally uses Google Business to promote itself online as a trans-friendly, inclusive space. The ad serves as an example of a corporation aligning itself with transgender rights and visibility by using Wandering as the face and narrative behind its latest campaign.
The video falls in line with Google's previous LGBT activism, including its public opposition to Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act, its rainbow-colored Google doodle timed to the first day of the Sochi Olympics, and its offering of extra cash benefits to employees who are in a same-sex domestic partnership.
The company's efforts to frame itself as an LGBT ally aren't just good for its image—they are also good for business, according to new data released by Google and YouTube. Roughly half of millennials say they're more likely to support a brand after seeing an equality-themed ad, and nearly the same percentage say they're more likely to do repeat business with an LGBT-friendly company.
So, Why Should You Care? As one of the world's largest tech companies, Google has the potential to influence how other companies portray and promote the transgender community and, in turn, how audiences perceive transgender people. While many have cited Caitlyn Jenner's Diane Sawyer interview and Vanity Fair cover as a tipping point for transgender awareness, just 9 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender—which makes stories from people like Wandering all the more important. Studies show that visibility matters: Sixty-six percent of people who said they know a transgender person expressed favorable feelings toward the individual, compared with 13 percent who did not, according to the Human Rights Campaign.