Claiming to value queer customers and clients, whether out of genuine interest or purely for marketing purposes, has caught on and become incredibly common. Google reviews and Yelp allow businesses to tag their location or profile as “LGBT friendly,” and businesses that promote themselves as queer friendly are more profitable. The corporatization of Pride parades has not gone unnoticed and demonstrates how virtue signaling is another tool to increase profits rather than commit to social change.
This problem has a unique impact on trans consumers. Industries that tend to be associate with gender the most, such as hairstylists and barbers, makeup, nail arts, fashion and other fields that often focus on personal services have the best opportunities to embrace and welcome trans individuals, but often fall short. Being misgendered is the most obvious example, as it is common and incredibly painful for many trans people. Nonbinary people who are interested in makeup could be pigeonholed as similar to women. Claiming to be “LGBT friendly” demonstrates a fundamental flaw with targeting large, diverse populations (other examples include “BIPOC,” “accessibility” for disabled people, “mentally ill” and more). This inherently puts people that are the most marginalized on the same playing field with those who are less so. This is clear when failing to consider identity intersections, as well.
I will be focusing on implications for trans people who are seeking services and events that are actually affirming and inclusive of them and not just cis queer people. It is important to remember that the impact of this problem is compounded for trans people of multiple marginalized identities. Queer Black people are more marginalized than white queer people, for example. Indigenous trans people are more marginalized than white trans people. The examples are endless.
There are queer people who are seen as acceptable, fashionable, or cute by cisgender, heterosexual (cishet) people. White cis gay men who are somewhat effeminate and well dressed are prime candidates for the “gay best friend” trope and are reduced to stereotypes. One could convincingly argue that those who are embracing specific narratives of gay people rather than the unique, complex individuals that comprise gay people are not truly inclusive, and this wouldn’t be wrong…