It really is that simple: “There are girls with penises and boys with vulvas.” A new public awareness campaign by the Basque advocacy group Chrysallis Euskal Herria, an association of families with transgender children, has hit the bus shelters and subway stations of the Basque Country and Navarre, in northern Spain.
The campaign was funded by an anonymous donor from New York with Basque family roots, who donated €28,000 in exchange for assurances that his or her identity would remain under wraps, the association said.
The 150 posters distributed across mass transit networks show drawings of four nude children holding hands: a boy and a girl with vulvas, and another boy and girl with penises. The goal is “to raise social awareness about transgender children and for these children to feel represented,” explains Beatriz Sever, the group’s press officer.
The campaign was made possible thanks to the enormous repercussion of an earlier drive
The campaign, which is targeting the cities of Pamplona, Vitoria, San Sebastián and Bilbao, was launched on Tuesday and will end on January 16.
“There is an evident gap in society’s ability to approach the issue of transgender children in a normal way,” said Sever in a telephone conversation. “The more we talk, the easier it will be for some parents to detect what is happening to their own children. Many of them deny their kids’ real identity simply out of ignorance.”
The association was formed in 2013 by eight Basque families with transgender children ages three through 17. Since then, their number has grown to 40.
Banned on Facebook
Facebook followed its usual policy of censoring the image because the children are depicted in the nude.
“We did not fight the decision because we were afraid that our page would be shut down. On one hand, it’s given us even more visibility, but then we were not looking for something like this to happen, because it draws attention away from our main message,” said the association representative.
Sever said it was essential to have this explicit depiction of genitals on the posters.
“It makes all the difference between children either being accepted or not. We need to make people understand that nature is not a photocopying machine. Those who deny their identity typically use genitals as an excuse. I myself, as a mother, once used that same argument, until I finally understood what was going on,” she reveals.
Another goal of the campaign is to ensure unconditional support for transgender children from their immediate circle of friends and family, and to prevent rejection.
This is “a life-and-death matter,” notes Sever. According to a 2011 survey of transgender adults by the United States National Transgender Equality Association, 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6% of the general population.
The campaign was made possible thanks to the enormous repercussion of an earlier drive to raise awareness about transgender children. That campaign, carried out in April 2016, handed out educational material in eight different languages.
That earlier effort reached the ears of a New York financier with Basque roots, who got in touch with Chrysallis Euskal Herria and offered to put up the €28,000 required to put together this latest awareness drive.
The association expressed its gratitude to the sponsor, and said it will ask the Basque regional government to create a specific department to assist the families of transgender children.
English version by Susana Urra.