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Amazon’s Alexa devices get transgender man’s voice for International Transgender Day of Visibility

'Voice of Trans' skill will allow Alexa users to hear a transgender man's story from childhood to his transition and beyond

Amazon Echo Plus — Photo: Amazon.com

Amazon’s Alexa devices will soon allow users to hear the voice and backstory of a transgender man.

Alexa users in Britain will be able to ask their devices to “open the voice of trans,” which will activate an Alexa skill featuring a fictional transgender man’s voice.

According to a press release, the voice will thank users for choosing to listen to him, and then invite them to hear his story, which has been compiled from the real experiences of transgender people across the globe.

Users can decide which parts of the story to hear, but it will include the voice’s childhood — including hating “girly” clothes — as well as difficulties faced in school, attempts to take his own life, and his transition, including his experience with gender confirmation surgery.

The voice’s story ends with him meeting and then subsequently marrying his partner, Aliyah.

Listen to an excerpt below:

 

The third-party Alexa skill was created by by Brand Advance and Global Butterflies I’m recognition of International Transgender Day of Visibility on Sunday, March 31.

The project– which runs from March 28 to March 31 — will also allow users to directly engage with the fight for transgender rights and equality.

Users will be invited to visit a Change.org petition calling for the United Nations to advance transgender rights in its human rights agenda, in order to effect global change for the trans community.

There are an estimated 25 million transgender people around the world, according to the press release. In the UK alone, one in eight trans employees (12%) have been physically attacked by a colleague or customer in the last year and half of trans people (51%) have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination.

The petition, which prominently features the Voice of Trans logo, notes that “Human rights cross borders and carry responsibility.”

“We call on ALL Member States of the United Nations to recognise and celebrate our diversity and embrace all gender identities and expressions, at home and abroad,” the petition reads. “And we call on you to support this cause and sign this petition. Use the power of your voice to share it with family and friends. The more you use the power of your voice, the more ours will be heard.”

Christopher Kenna, CEO of Brand Advance, commented on the activation: “This campaign epitomises how voice technology can be used to transform perception and create action – impacting on the futures of 25 million people globally.

“Brand Advance exists to transform Diversity representation across the globe with authenticity, fair and transparent media representation, and exposure to global markets with global leaders. The #VoiceofTrans is an incredible campaign and we could not be more proud to lead the charge for change.”

Emma Cusdin from Global Butterflies, said: “We are delighted to support this global campaign providing a platform to tell stories from across the gender identity and gender expression spectrums using the technology of Alexa. By hearing stories, by having conversations and by signing the petition we can start to improve the daily lives of trans people worldwide. We hope that people who interact with this campaign will understand that gender is not binary but a broad spectrum and that trans people use wonderful ways to describe their gender which should be celebrated.”

The Voice of Trans project comes as Amazon celebrates achieving a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

The online retail giant joined 570 other companies in achieving HRC’s top score of 100%, demonstrating full commitment to LGBTQ equality and pro-LGBTQ employment policies.

That’s even with HRC raising the benchmark for achieving a perfect score, highlighting just how committed many of the nations top employers are to making life better for their LGBTQ employees.

In a statement, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said: “We want our employees — and the communities where we operate in — to embrace that we’re all human, we’re all different, and we’re all equal.”

Amazon noted on its official blog that the company has expanded its Transgender Toolkit — a set of resources intended for transgender employees and their peers to help navigate transitioning and other workplace issues — to the UK, as well as rolled out a “pronouns tool” in the company’s online global company directory, participated in “dozens” of Pride parades around the world, and created an Alexa skill to “deliver Pride facts year-round.”

Editor’s Note: This article originally stated that Amazon had created the Voice of Trans update, not a third party. We have updated it to correct this.

Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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