Starbucks ad featuring a transgender teen is making people cry

Starbucks has partnered with an organization that supports transgender youth in the U.K.
Starbucks is receiving praise for a new ad featuring a transgender teen feeling welcome at the coffee chain.
Starbucks is receiving praise for a new ad featuring a transgender teen feeling welcome at the coffee chain. YouTube
/ Source: TODAY

A new commercial from Starbucks is bringing awareness to the everyday difficulties transgender youth face as they fight for acceptance while transitioning.

Though the ad premiered in the U.K. earlier this month, its touching tone and message are receiving praise from thousands of people around the world.

In the ad, a trans teen named James is seen going about his day only to be consistently referred to as "Jemma," his former name (also known as a deadname) throughout the day. It happens at the doctor’s office, it happens while he's on the phone and he's called Jemma at school. Even his own family refuses to use his new name.

Finally, at the end of the commercial, the teen boy goes to Starbucks where he is asked for his name by a barista.

“It’s James,” the teen responds. The employee then writes the correct name on the cup and James, for the first time in the 90-second spot, smiles.

According to Mermaids, a U.K.-based organized that supports transgender youth, for many people transitioning, a painful aspect of the journey is that their identities do not match their assigned names, which can lead to feelings of isolation and depression.

"At Starbucks, writing your name on a cup and calling it out is a symbol of our warm welcome," reads the caption on the ad's YouTube video. It was posted Feb. 2 and has already garnered nearly 450,000 views.

"It’s a small gesture, but it's symbolic of what we believe in."

A representative for the chain confirmed to TODAY that the ad is currently only airing on TV in the U.K., but it can be viewed anywhere online, where it has been receiving a lot of praise.

As part of a larger partnership between Starbucks and Mermaids, the chain is also selling limited-edition mermaid cookies (or biscuits, if you're using the British word) to raise up to 100,000 pounds ($130,000) for the group.

On social media, the response to the campaign has been overwhelmingly positive, with many from the trans community and allies acknowledging how meaningful it is to be addressed correctly.

The ad is moving parents of transgender men and women to tears, as well.

“We were moved to discover that individuals find our stores a safe space to try out their new names when transitioning," Starbucks said when it first released the commercial. "Starbucks’ #whatsyourname campaign celebrates this signature act and the significance it can have for some transgender and gender diverse people as they use their new name in public.”