2021 was the worst year in recent history for LGBTQ+ state legislative attacks, as an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ+ measures swept through state legislatures across the country. These bills represented a cruel effort to further stigmatize and discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, specifically trans youth who simply want to live as their true selves and grow into who they are. Lawmakers attempted to score political points with the conservative under the guise of responding to non-existent and baseless threats. At the center of these attacks were attempts to disallow transgender children from playing sports on teams that aligned with their gender identity. Trans kids are kids and they deserve every opportunity as any other kid in the country. There’s so much deliberate misinformation circulating out in the world about what it means to be a trans kid playing sports. As we fight to defeat these bills in state legislatures, we are also working to change hearts and minds to galvanize a country in support of trans kids.
The best way to fight back against these attacks is to put faces to issues. The Human Rights Campaign created a video focused on 14-year-old Rebekah, who loves school, baking, reading and playing field hockey. She also happens to be transgender. Rebekah’s story resonated with countless folks across the country, many of whom have never met a trans kid.
In addition to producing Rebekah’s video,, HRC uplifted voices of folks fighting on the ground, specifically in the most hostile state lege environments including Alabama, Texas, Georgia, North Dakota, Tennessee, Florida and Montana. Our goal was to create momentum to encourage people who might not be affected by these attacks to join the fight.
When Arkansas passed the first trans medical care ban, HRC created a rapid response ad in less than 24 hours shaming the governor for signing the bill into law. That video became a television ad played across the state during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
In the wake of Rebekah’s video, public support for Rebekah and trans kids was overwhelming.
“Children are amazing. They are not taught to hate. It’s the adults hurting these innocent kids with these ridiculously discriminatory and bigoted policies. Any adult that feels they need to legislate the happiness and well being of a child is beyond cruel,” said one Facebook commenter.
“I just don't understand why anyone would be upset by Rebekah playing field hockey. Leave these kids alone and let them live,” said another.
With a strategic rollout plan, Rebekah’s story amassed more than a million views in less than a week. To date, the video has reached more than 5.5 million people across HRC’s social platforms. It had more than 200,000 engagements.
It was shared by prominent celebrities, influencers and athletes including Laverne Cox, Chelsea Clinton, Megan Rapinoe and the USA Field Hockey team. The video was HRC’s highest performing and most viewed video of 2020 and 2021. Millions of people met Rebekah.
The voices we uplifted that had similar stories as Rebekah were our highest-performing videos of the year by a wide margin, and we welcomed unexpected successeses. We highlighted a widowed father of a trans daughter who is a police officer fighting for his daughter’s rights in front of the Alabama legislature. Our edit on the video led to news organizations covering his story, and within weeks of our video release, his story was featured on NBC Nightly News and CNN.
Through our storytelling and mobilizing members and supporters, we helped kill anti-trans bills in Alabama, North Dakota, Texas and Georgia.
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