Part of the cultural transformation taking place regarding homosexuality and civil rights in the United States right now has nothing to do with homosexuality at all, but with gender. Transgendered people are no more likely to be homosexual than anyone else, but the dominant thinking around the issue tends to pair the two. As acceptance of homosexuality increases, so too does acceptance of transgendered people, albeit much more slowly. Now though, transgendered people are pushing to the forefront of the conversation, not through civil action, through pop art.
Jacob Bernstein of the New York Times chronicled the rise of transgender-focused pop art this week in an extensive article profiling well-known artists and and prominent characters in popular shows like Orange Is The New Black. And Barney's has unveiled a new ad campaign consisting entirely of transgendered models. These kinds of respectful representations are incredibly important because of their ability to humanize transgendered people. In these images we do not see people in mid-transition, we do not see people poorly fit into their personas or skin, we see people, just like us, which is the most important element of acceptance.
We are long past the days of thinking it is acceptable to harbor bias against a group of people based solely on their status of being "the other". Gender assignment and association is a personal and private matter, and a matter of the simple human rights to the control of one's own life and self expression. Stop seeing gender, start seeing people.
To Read the New York Times Article:
To See the Barney's Ad Campaign: