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Grab the Tissues: Vicks Ad Featuring Transgender Mom Goes Viral in India

Post submitted by Fitret Yitayew, HRC Foundation Workplace Equality Assistant

A new ad from Vicks India featuring a transgender mother and her daughter has gone viral.

The heart touching ad tells the story of how Gauri Sawant, a transgender woman and activist, came to adopt Gayatri, a young girl whose birth mother died of AIDS.

In the ad, Gayatri narrates the daily rituals she has adopted with her new mummy, from hair massages to watching horror films together, and the struggles her mother faces as a transgender woman. She questions the unfair legal treatment of transgender people in India.    

“My Civics book says that everyone is entitled to basic rights” Gayatri says.

“Then why is my mom denied them?”

By the end of the ad, Gayatri says she is going to be a lawyer – for her mom.

Transgender women have a long history in India, featured in Hindu mythology and sought out for blessings. In 2014, India’s Supreme Court ruled that transgender people had equal rights under the law and granted legal status to individuals who identify as a third gender – neither male or female. Still, transgender people continue to face bias and discrimination in Indian society.

Discrimination and hate are often manifested from a fear of what people don’t know or understand. Visibility helps mitigate this fear, emphasizing our common humanity. This Vicks India ad connects us to the universal experiences of parental love and mother/daughter bonds fostering vital conversations necessary for positive change.

Vicks India is owned by the parent company, Proctor & Gamble, which has earned a perfect 100 score since 2014 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBT employees, and is a founding member of HRC’s Global Business Coalition, a consortium of major global businesses committed to upholding workplace protections for LGBT employees – along with the rest of their workforce – everywhere that they do  business.

“We believe family and care are timeless – the definition of family will keep evolving in the modern world but Vicks believes that everyone deserves the ‘touch of care,’” Nitin Darbari, Marketing Director, Asia Vicks, told HRC.

In September, HRC hosted eight advocates working on transgender issues in India at our office in Washington, D.C. HRC also traveled to Hyderabad, India, in 2016 to kick off and participate in the city’s first summit focused on LGBTQ workplace inclusion.

Interested in making your workplace welcoming and inclusive for transgender and gender nonconforming employees? Check out the HRC Foundation’s “Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace: A Toolkit for Employers” at www.hrc.org/transtoolkit