Starbucks has launched a new trans-inclusive ad campaign, which many media outlets have praised for its pro-LGBTQ message. But I? I have misgivings…
The ad follows a young person as they go about their day, wincing every time someone calls them by the distinctly feminine name “Jemma.” It’s only once they go to order coffee at a Starbucks that someone finally asks them what they want to be called.
“And what’s your name?” the barista says.
“It’s James,” the young person replies, cracking a small smile.
The Advocate has called the spot “heartwarming,” while USA Today hailed it as “touching.” I, however, am disgusted that such reputable publications would disregard the blatant lies that Howard Schultz is gavaging down the general public’s throat!!
While many in the media have apparently decided to play along with the charade, I, for one, will not allow myself to participate in this shameful gaslighting of trans youth worldwide.
No, I’m not about to launch into some transphobic argument about how we shouldn’t affirm trans kids’ identities. I know that trans boys are boys, trans girls are girls, and all the nonbinary and gender-nonconforming kids are whatever gender they say they are—no exception.
My issue lies with the fact that the Starbucks barista got James’ name right in the first place. Not Ames. Not Jams. Not Jemphis. Not Gomfo. James. A Starbucks barista getting your name right… when has that ever happened to literally anybody??
This is not a dig at Starbucks baristas—especially not all the trans baristas putting in the hours to get all of their gender-affirming surgeries covered under Starbucks’ comparatively excellent trans health care plan. I just care about the truth, and the truth is that you won’t necessarily get called by the name you want when you go out for coffee, regardless of whether you’re cis or trans.
Now, please. Starbucks. Stop using your front-line employees to bolster up your public image and purported progressive values—at least raise their minimum hourly wage or give them more hours a week like they’ve been asking for if you’re going to make them the face of all your heavily funded pro-social campaigns over and over again!
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.