Google Airs Transgender Ad Before Caitlyn Jenner's ESPY Awards Speech

Google Transgender Ad - H 2015

The spot focuses on Jake, who was born female, and City Gym, where he feels comfortable and finds support.

Transgender issues have been front-page news all summer, though brands have clearly had a hard time knowing what their role should be in the conversation.

But Google — one of the world's most powerfully visible corporate LGBT advocates — aired a spot just prior to Caitlyn Jenner's Arthur Ashe Award acceptance speech at Wednesday's 2015 ESPY Awards that tells the deeply poignant story of a transgender man and the small business that helped him during his transition. The ad debuted in June for Pride Month.

The first half of the spot below focuses on Jake, who was born female but identified as male from a young age. The second half introduces City Gym in Kansas City, Mo., which has given Jake a place where he can feel comfortable getting to know his changing body and find support for him and his friends. (Another gym's tagline, "No judgments," would be pretty apt at this place.)

The spot, by Venables Bell & Partners, is wonderfully made. The story is skillfully and evocatively told, and never feels exploitative. The inclusion of YouTube videos in which Jake shows his transition are particularly resonant in describing his journey (and yes, Google's ongoing behind-the-scenes role in it).

It's also unapologetic about the business tie-in — the spot promotes the Google My Business tools for small businesses — which is a good thing, as it doesn't feign disinterested altruism and presents a tangible case for supporting LGBT-friendly companies.

Google has done meaningful work in this space for years. Once again, it's leading by example.

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