by Aurora Jackson, General Manager, Lane Transit District
A few weeks ago, Lane Transit District (“LTD”) made a grave misstep. One of the commercials that was developed to promote our “Don’t Invite COVID: Follow the Four” campaign featured a male actor playing all gender roles. After a community member informed us of the offensive nature of the commercial, LTD immediately removed the commercial. We are grateful to the community member who brought this transgression to our attention, and to TransPonder, who is graciously educating us to gain a better and evolving understanding of the transgender community. TransPonder is a grassroots, completely transgender founded and led nonprofit that provides support, resources, and education for the trans/gender diverse community and its allies.
We, at LTD, take full responsibility for our mistake. We recognize that this ad campaign was transphobic in nature and that its impact, regardless of our intention, perpetuated the common misconception that transgender people are a joke and deserve to be laughed at. For this we are deeply sorry.
Trans-women or trans-feminine people are the most targeted within the transgender community for hate and violence. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 84% of the reported transgender deaths in the United States last year were trans women/feminine people. 82% of those deaths were black/indigenous people of color (BIPOC). We recognize how the media plays a role in this issue – either by perpetuating the stereotypes that fuel these harrowing statistics or by doing the hard work to educate about, represent appropriately, and uplift the transgender community. LTD has chosen the latter. We will do better with our future initiatives. LTD’s marketing and communications initiatives must reflect our commitment to safely connect all of its community members to the people and places that are important to them.
As it relates to the subject ad campaign, LTD has changed the graphics to deliver the same messaging. We have committed to actively partner with and engage TransPonder and similar community organizations designed to support marginalized populations within our service area. Internally, we have challenged our Diversity Council to develop or sponsor interactive trainings about gender diversity. As we move forward, we are committing to apply an equity lens – which includes gender diversity – in strategic and operational planning sessions to ensure to the best of our ability that we do not contribute to any manner of systemic discrimination in the future. As we learn more, we will do more and commit to more specific action. Today, we commit to doing the work – whatever it takes to create a safe and sustainable transit experience for the people we serve and for our employees.