Every name has a story to unfold, one can wonder why Starbucks opted to call their customers by their names rather than numbers, and recently the company released a new ad explaining why. It said, “At Starbucks, writing your name on a cup and calling it out is a symbol of our warm welcome. It’s a small gesture, but it’s symbolic of what we believe in recognition and acceptance, whoever you are, or want to be. We welcome everyone.”
The ad follows the struggle of a transgender man using his adopted name (James) rather than his birth name (Jemma). It showed how it affects the daily lives and social interactions of transgender people. The ad then found the lead at a Starbucks coffee shop, being asked what name he wants to be called, and he said “James,” smiling. After the release, the company gained a lot of praise for its diversity and inclusivity.
Many would ask, what can be the difference? According to an article entitled The Power of Using Names made by Washington Post dated January 2014, “A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality,” meaning it is part of the core of who you are. And for our transgender friends, adopting their new name that is appropriate to their gender and sexuality is part of transitioning. It is not something that they just want to, it is something that they have to do to fully become who they are.
It is simple but it implies a lot. Just like anyone, being called by their names shows respect. For our transgender friends, this also means that you are accepting their decision to embrace their gender identity and sexuality. Being called by their adopted names gives them a feeling of being accepted, a sense of being recognized. It is an incomparable feeling for transgender people, especially if they had a hard time coming out and during their transition period. This supplies them an added boost to their self-esteem and an added confidence to face the world a little braver than yesterday, knowing that there’s one less person to worry about.
Every name indeed has a narrative to tell, and the same way goes to our transgender friends, what they choose to be called has a story to unfold. Let’s celebrate their choices and embrace individuality, it’s the least we can do to support. Also follow the stories of Cairo, Nicole, Eliza, and Otto at Starbuck UK youtube account series called #WhatsYourName. Help the company raise funds for Mermaids, a charity supporting young transgender and gender diverse people and their families.