It’s been a complicated Pride month, to say the least. The LGBTQ community has achieved hard-fought victories: the right to serve openly in the military, marriage equality, and the designation of the Stonewall Inn as America’s first-ever LGBT national monument. We have much to celebrate, as each of these important milestones reminds us how far the nation has come toward greater equality.
But the shooting at Pulse in Orlando serves as a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go. Even as we continue to mourn this horrifying tragedy, the massive outpouring of support – from Muslim leaders to record emergency blood donations – continue to offer hope that love will prevail. LightBox Collaborative has had the honor of working with many LGBTQ organizations that are shifting culture through strategic storytelling. We’re particularly proud of the work we’ve done with Transgender Law Center, so we share their story below.
Transgender Law Center champions the ideal that everyone should be treated fairly. Unfortunately, people who don’t fit narrow gender stereotypes often face discrimination in employment and housing, are barred from using the appropriate restroom, and suffer threats to their personal safety.
Why Should I Care?
This question was at the crux of LightBox Collaborative’s partnership with the Transgender Law Center. How can we make transgender issues matter to people who may not necessarily identify as trans or gender nonconforming?
As the organization completed a strategic plan that called for a greater emphasis on advocacy, they enlisted LightBox Collaborative to help tell an updated story of who they were, why it mattered, and how this shift would ultimately serve more transgender people. Together, we crafted a fresh organizational identity, compelling messaging, and creative communications strategies to bring greater engagement.
To help open the organization to a broader audience, we crafted messaging that told stories of how narrow and outdated definitions of gender – as well as the expectations for appearance and behavior they imply – can turn every day places like school, work, or the doctor’s office into hostile environments for people who don’t conform to current stereotypes. We tapped into an emotional experience – not wanting to be limited by expectations – shared by many, no matter what their gender identity or expression. This opened a pathway for a conversation about the importance of being true to one’s self. Tapping into these values, our work together led to the organization’s centerpiece communications effort My Authentic Life.
One of our favorite parts about working with Transgender Law Center was how fully they committed themselves to expressing these new ideas throughout the organization. Here are just a few ways they wove the core theme of “Authentic Lives” through their work:
Mission Statement. Working from fresh messaging LightBox Collaborative helped to craft, Transgender Law Center updated their mission statement and values to better reflect their new strategy.
|Mission Statement Before||Mission Statement After|
|“Connect transgender people and their families to technically sound and culturally competent legal services, increase acceptance and enforcement of laws and policies that support California’s transgender communities, and work to change laws and systems that fail to incorporate the needs and experiences of transgender people.”||“Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.”|
Logo. The logo had also become a pain point for the organization. To many constituents, Transgender Law Center’s old logo represented gender binaries. An arrow, a plus sign, and a circle seemed to resemble the “male” or “female” boxes on some forms and reinforced this sense of not fitting in. LightBox Collaborative crafted a new logo depicting a circle that represented the idea of a gender spectrum that encompasses all people, no matter what their gender identity or expression might be.
|Logo Before||Logo After|
Tagline. Transgender Law Center also adopted a tagline for the first time: Making Authentic Lives Possible. Initially, the tagline made the Transgender Law Center team uncomfortable, as it seemed too aspirational. But it has since been very warmly received, as it quickly and simply explains the role the organization plays in the movement and in people’s lives.
Living the Brand
This commitment to aligning with their newfound expression of who they are speaks to Transgender Law Center’s insight and dedication. They continually sought ways to bring the new brand to life.
Storytelling. Transgender Law Center retooled many of their communications approaches to feature stories of the people they serve front and center in their work. Historically, the organization had been hesitant to do so, out of concern for the privacy and safety of their constituents.
- Working within the “Authentic Lives” framework, Transgender Law Center opened up the organization to become a platform for people to tell their own stories.
- The organization’s YouTube channel shares stories of people living authentically.
- Each year Transgender Law Center presents the “My Authentic Life” award to someone who embodies TLC’s mission at their SPARK
Fundraising. Transgender Law Center has also been effective at weaving the “Authentic Lives” theme into fundraising efforts as well.
- The rollout of Transgender Law Center’s new identity just so happened to coincide with the first national GiveOUT Day in 2013. It was exactly the opportunity TLC was looking for to help them engage and build relationships with more individual donors. Transgender Law Center won the competition, raising more than $32,000 in a single day.
- One of TLC’s biggest strokes of genius was making their annual report into a cool, glossy magazine – Authentic Lives – that could be left with donors after meetings. The standard data and pie charts you’d expect in an annual report are woven between the pictures and stories of real people that have been touched by Transgender Law Center.
Transgender Law Center continues to feature stories in their outreach to donors. A recent donor letter focused on a child transitioning with the support of their parents, who said “our child knows all too well the risks of living an authentic life, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
For LightBox Collaborative, working with Transgender Law Center was a privilege and a delight. Helping an organization discover their truest expression and watch that expression manifest into success is what our work is all about. But what make us even prouder is seeing how this work has given the TLC team cohesion and confidence to rock their new strategy and reach their goals, even when situations and circumstances prove challenging.
Post image courtesy of Getty Images / Sandy Huffaker