Pantene's Powerful Holiday Ads Follow Trans People Going Home For Christmas

by Madison Vanderberg

Pantene and GLAAD team up on an emotional holiday ad showing trans people returning to their hometowns for Christmas

Pantene just released a set of emotional holiday ads that follow several actual transgender individuals as they travel to their real-life hometowns for Christmas, a journey that is not unanimously pleasant for all LGBTQ+ people. “137 million Americans will travel home this holiday season,” according to a voice-over in the commercial. “44% of LGBTQ people feel they can’t come home as their true selves.”

The commercial features the beautiful vocal sounds of the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” as we watch several members of the chorus make the journey to their hometowns across America. The five different ads echo similar journeys of trans folks who had to patiently wait for their parents and family members to come around before ultimately embracing them, though each story ends with hope and positivity.

“The first holiday after coming out, my family was very careful, and they decided not to use any pronouns at all,” Steven H. said in his solo ad. He added that after taking testosterone, his family didn’t “recognize” him and that “everything was an inch to the left,” but that after some time, Steven was ultimately able to relax around his family and now he and his boyfriend love to go home for the holidays.

“To me, being home is being somewhere where you don’t have to worry about the identity that you broadcast to the world,” Steven added. “All of it falls away, and you can just be yourself.”

Crystal S. from Woodbridge, VA shared in her solo ad how it took her mom and grandmother a minute to truly accept her, but once they did, it was life-changing.

“To have my family truly respect who I am as a woman, it was the most important thing for me in the world,” Crystal S. from Woodbridge, VA shared in her solo ad. “Because everybody just wants to be loved, and respected, and feel welcome.”

“To any young trans person coming home for the holidays, stay strong,” Crystal said. “Give [your family] time, because they will come around. You will have joy and you will be loved. I believe that.”

Of course, these are all ads for Pantene, a hair care product company, but for Miliana S., her hair was a huge part of her identity and transition. She shared how as a child, her “hair was like my strength my femininity,” but that her dad was “not a fan” of her growing out her hair and shaved her head. Miliana added that the head-shaving incident signaled to her that her father would never accept her for who she was, but slowly and surely, her father did come around.

“Five years after that conversation, here he is, embracing me,” Miliana shared. “In the past, it was always nervousness and anxiety. Now, coming home for the holidays means I have a sense of community and family.”

Yes, these are just commercials for shampoo, but shampoo or not, Pantene used their platform to share messages of hope and joy and shine a light on the lived experiences of actual trans folk, and for that, we applaud this message.