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Coffee Giant Starbucks’ Partnership With Trans Equality Charity Mermaids Is a Big Deal

Concerns about rainbow-washing are valid, but a brand Starbucks’ size addressing dead-naming is a big positive step

Starbucks’ trans rights advert with equality charity Mermaids Starbucks/Mermaids

Starbucks has put its money where its mouth is on trans rights

A Starbucks advert produced in collaboration with transgender equality charity Mermaids aired on Channel 4 last night, as the coffee giant pledges to raise a minimum of £100,000 for the charity alongside the advertising deal, according to Pink News. The advert, which shows James, a trans man, using his name to order a coffee after being deadnamed — referred to by his former name — in other social situations, will be complemented by a mermaid cookie at Starbucks’ stores.

In addressing the significance of using trans’ people’s correct names and pronouns according to how they wish to live, Starbucks is unquestionably doing good. An advertising deal is an exchange of capital — and a company that is yet to fully acknowledge its problem with making other marginalised communities feel welcome and yet to correct its dismal record of paying tax in the U.K. is not to be heralded without pause. But: Starbucks’ LGBTQ rights’ record is one of its most persistent, proven sources of social good, establishing the Starbucks Pride Alliance Network in 2007 and covering transition costs for employees in the U.S.; taking this position in the U.K., whose cultural dialogue around trans rights remains largely mired in transphobic, reactionary concerns about “self-ID” that are readily debunked by scientific research, is significant. [Pink News]

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