Scroll To Top

Show Us Your #TransHands

Show Us Your #TransHands

Dawn Ennis

A new meme and hashtag campaign is unveiled by two transgender advocates. 

Never before in the history of the United States, perhaps in the world, have transgender people had so much attention paid to them in politics, popular entertainment, and news media.

All it takes is one glance at the headlines or the cable news channels to see that much of that attention tends to be ill-informed, negative, and in the case of the right-wing media, deliberately misleading. Transgender people are portrayed as immoral, perverse, and predatory, without any justification. Those few who have their hands on the wheels of politics and mainstream media still see transgender people as something that defies understanding.

And what's perhaps most frustrating about that is the fact that as a minority, our only representatives are for the most part trans celebrities elevated by the mainstream media who seem out of touch with our own diverse experience.

Much has been written about how the marriage equality movement won over hearts and minds by focusing on love rather than sexuality, orientation, or even the constitutional question of equal protection. The shift in strategy from intellectual arguments to matters of the heart stunned those opposed to same-sex marriage by turning them into enemies of love.

What do trans people have that can even come close to such a lofty, overwhelmingly winning strategy?

So far, the best we've been able to achieve is a controversial but widely seen response to an orchestrated attempt by right-wing activists who portray us as bathroom predators. The online campaign of out trans man Michael Hughes, #wejustneedtopee, caught fire after he posted selfies of his bearded self lurking in ladies' rooms. Other activists followed suit with their own selfies, including photos of trans women with passing privilege standing next to urinals.

Recently, Hannah launched #safe2peehere, showing transgender folks and cisgender (nontransgender) allies posing with medical supply catheter bags, highlighting the absurdity of living your life when one public facility leaves you vulnerable to violence or harassment, and the other, vulnerable to arrest.

All these campaigns have gained plenty of attention by presenting shocking images and made an excellent counterpoint to the argument that laws protecting transgender individuals have never, ever been misused by actual male predators, Yet critics, including those within the community, argue they play into heteronormative misanthropic impressions that a man, even a trans man, poses a danger to women and children. They also fail to capture the breadth of the trans and gender-nconforming community's diversity.

It is well-established that trans people, as a population, do not want our fight for civil rights to be determined by our genitals, or our need to go potty.

And so we thought about how we could change the dialogue from being portrayed as freaks, as predators of children, to people like everyone else, to moms and dads and children and siblings and aunts and uncles, and for the gender-nonconforming, ze and zir and all the glorious combinations of gender that outnumber even the constellations.

We put our minds together and then our hands, and created #TransHands.

As you can see from these tweets, our friends in our social media circles are at this moment sharing widely our invitation to do something so simple, so easy, that even a North Carolina Republican can do it:

  • Snap a picture of your hand. If you can, take it holding the hand of someone transgender or gender-nonconforming. You can even show yourselves. We want to see your smile if you're willing to share it!
  • If you don't have someone trans in your life, snap a pic of your hand extended, as if to shake hands. We don't mean to exclude the differently abled--please feel free to get creative!
  • If you are cisgender and posing with a trans friend, it's not important to mention which one is the trans person. We are all humans, so if people can't tell the difference, then it really didn't matter in the first place.
  • Share your picture on social media, and be sure to add the hashtag #TransHands. You can also follow the campaign on Twitter and Instagram at @transhands and on Facebook.

And with that, you become part of a movement toward acceptance, toward understanding, and toward love.

Just 30 years ago today, more than 5 million people locked hands and stood together in an event called Hands Across America, to show we are all united in one way or another.

We've launched #TransHands in that same spirit. We hope that a simple gesture like that of holding the hand of someone trans, no matter what their age, background, ethnicity, politics, or faith, will make a difference in the effort to win hearts and minds and ultimately, acceptance.

As you can see above, Dawn's three children took part in this effort with joy! We hope many of those joining the #TransHands movement will be children too, to show that the next generation is already one step ahead in accepting that "we the people" means all people, including transgender Americans.

HANNAH SIMPSON is a transgender advocate, writer, marathoner, snarky Jewish girl, and unabashed nerd. Find her writing on The Advocate, Refinery29, and elsewhere. You may have caught her on Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC or WNYW's Good Day New York, among others. Twitter at @hannsimp; Instagram @hsimpso

DAWN ENNIS is an award-winning writer and producer who was the first out transgender staffer in a major TV network newsroom and here at The Advocate. She is a single mom of three children who call her Dad. Follow her at @lifeafterdawn and at her blog,

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Dawn Ennis and Hannah Simpson