Although Lush’s #TransRightsAreHumanRights campaign throughout their North American stores technically ended in February, the handmade cosmetics company has set up an incredible amount of support for the transgender community that will reverberate for years. Lush is known for having a charitable heart: they create handmade products with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to small organizations fighting for the environment, animal welfare and human rights (see: Charity Pot lotion), and they use their platform to give ethical campaigns a voice on a wider scale.
In their latest human rights ethical campaign, Lush partnered with the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity to not only educate the community on transgender rights, but also to spread awareness on how to become an ally. With a goal to raise $450,000, Lush released their exclusive Inner Truth Bath Melt, donating 100 percent of the purchase price to organizations working to advance and secure trans rights. But the supported echoed in more ways than one. These partners didn’t just raise money to support trans rights: they provided a platform for the transgender community whose stories needed to be heard.
So, in order to share their stories even further, learn more about the campaign and how we can all become a trans ally, we spoke to Mara Keisling, the Founder and Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Celebrating 15 years since the founding, Keisling has served as a prominent leader for the transgender community, winning significant advances for transgender equality.
“It’s such a wonderful comprehensive campaign,” says Keisling when asked about the #TransRightsAreHumanRights campaign. “[Lush] worked with us, with other individuals and organizations, [and they] truly learned all they could. They talked to their own employees, and you wouldn’t normally think of this as a part of the campaign, but it was such a key part.”
So, what were some of the biggest aspects of the campaign?
“They trained people to be trainers.”
Because it’s so incredibly important to use the right language with respect to the trans community, it was especially crucial for this campaign that everyone involved was trained on trans issues.
“What they did is they trained everybody throughout their organization and trained them to think about how they might talk about trans issues with customers, their family, etc.,” says Keisling. “So they not only trained people, but they trained people to be trainers.” Throughout the length of the campaign, store windows full of bright colors and bubbles were replaced with quotes from the mouths of transgender and non-binary Lush employees who needed to be heard. Booklets that detailed how to become a trans ally were distributed in shops all across North America, and online resources were created.
“I went into the Lush store in Nashville, Tennessee, and as I got close to the store, there was a bench out in the mall and there was a guy sitting on it reading the How to Be a Trans Ally book,” says Keisling. “It just got me so amazed and excited.”
A custom #TransRightsAreHumanRights profile picture filter was made for social media, where followers could experience the movement and watch a series of short films. Many took to social media to share their stories, share words of thanks and spread the love for the trans community.
Thank you for showing up throughout our #TransRightsAreHumanRights campaign – we’ve managed to raise over $400,000 for organizations working to secure and advance trans rights. This is a battle we’re going to continue to fight now and into the future. https://t.co/YMsDyjQvVl pic.twitter.com/uEJGD92bUF
— Lush North America (@lushcosmetics) February 28, 2018
Not only did these organizations seek to raise money in support: they sought to provide a platform for the transgender community to share their stories and feel the love.
“I was talking to a parent, and her daughter is probably about 11,” Keisling shares. “And they went off to the Lush store near them and the daughter was just in heaven. She so proudly bought an Inner Truth Bath Melt, and she went home and just immediately wanted to take a bath.”
The Inner Truth Bath Melt, a blue and pink heart, not only reflects the colors of the transgender pride flag, but it also melts into a beautiful purple (a non-binary color) once it hits the tub.
“[When her mom] came in to just check up on her to see how happy she was,” Keisling continues, “she had taken the [heart-shaped] bath melt and instead of just melting it right away, she was pushing it against her arm and neck and cheeks and she was making hearts on herself because Lush loved her. I had never anticipated that, just a little kid saying somebody likes me, not in spite of me being trans, but because I’m trans. And for a little kid, that has to be absolutely life-changing.”
So, how can you be an ally to the trans community and help change someone else’s life?
“An important part of ally-ship is to let the people you’re being an ally to have their own power.”
Being a trans ally is more than just saying you’re a trans ally. It’s about respecting pronouns, being patient with those questioning their identity and more.
“One of the things that’s really great about this Lush campaign is at its heart, it’s about inclusion,” says Keisling. “It’s about saying that there are lots of different kinds of people, here’s one kind, but [they’re still] people. And we should all respect each other, live together and know about each other. And that’s the most important part of being an ally. That’s why Lush has so quickly become the model of that ally-ship for trans people.”
Rather than just hearing trans voices, make a conscious effort to listen to them as well.
“[Lush] let trans people speak, and an important part of ally-ship is to let the people you’re being an ally to have their own power and have their own voice, and Lush is really good about that,” Keisling explains.
“Treat people like you want to be treated.”
Along with being an ally to the trans community, you also can play a role in educating others and spreading the kindness.
“Listen and learn,” says Keisling. “Just always understand the golden rule: treat people like you want to be treated.”
One important aspect of the campaign that Keisling calls attention to was that it wasn’t just a “hit-and-run” type of situation. Going all-in with 100 percent effort––the campaign was only the beginning.
“They set up this whole campaign so that it’s not just a hit-and-run kind of, ‘Yay, we were nice to trans people for a couple weeks, now we can move on,'” Keisling explains. “They’ve actually set it up to financially support the trans movement in the United States and Canada in ways that are just going to reverberate for years.”
And for all those involved, whether they be the Lush employees or customers, Keisling leaves you with this: “To Lush customers, I hope [you] take away that trans people are part of society and we need to be treated right. To all the Lushies, the level of my thanks, I just can’t express. [You] should know that [you’ve] made a real difference and [you] are so lucky that [you] get to work at a place where [you] get to make a difference that way, and I hope [you] know that.”
Just as Lush, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity have come together to create a movement that will have an immensely positive effect on the trans community for years to come, you can make a difference for someone today by becoming a trans ally.