A man’s first shave is a milestone no matter who you are. But for transgender man Samson Bonkeabantu Brown, it was memorable for several reasons.
Brown shared the experience with a man identified as his father in an advertisement for Gillette, the maker of razors and shaving supplies.
The video, which Gillette shared on its Facebook page, shows the Toronto-based artist standing in front of a bathroom mirror as his father coaches him.
“Now, don’t be scared,” his father says. “Shaving is about being confident.”
As the news cycle brings a steady stream of negative headlines about violence and discrimination against the transgender community, the ad casts a rare positive light on a transgender man experiencing family support.
“Growing up, I was always trying to figure out what kind of man I wanted to become and I’m still trying to figure out what kind of man that I want to become,” Brown said in the video,
“I always knew I was different. I didn’t know that there was a term for the type of person that I was.”
CNN reached to Brown to find out if this was indeed his first shave, as the video implies. The video carries the caption, “‘Whenever, wherever, however it happens – your first shave is special.”
CNN also reached out to Gillette to confirm if this is the brand’s first ad to feature a transgender man.
Neither Brown nor Gillette responded immediately.
Regardless of the details, many celebrated the ad as a meaningful gesture of inclusiveness to kick off pride celebrations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in June.
“Oh wow, Gillette, we are having all the feels here,” LGBTQ family advocacy group PFLAG National said on Twitter.
“As the first and largest organization for parents of #LGBTQ people we thank you for seeing our #trans kids…and for honoring their affirming #dads!”
In a Facebook post, Brown thanked Gillette for the opportunity to share the important milestone with his father.
“I shot this ad for Gillette and wanted to include my father, who has been one of my greatest supporters throughout my transition, encouraging me to be confident and live authentically as my best self,” Brown said.
“I’m keenly aware of how blessed I am to be able to exist in this world being supported by my family in ways that all too often many of my trans brothers, sisters, and siblings who exist outside the binary are not always as fortunate,” Brown said in his Facebook post.
Brown says in the video that he’s glad to be at a point where he’s able to shave, a nod to the fact that for many transgender men, financial and medical barriers can impede access to medically necessary hormone treatment to align their appearance with their gender.
In his Facebook post, Brown said he believes the ad will give other transgender people hope.
“I am confident that this ad will encourage many of my trans siblings and fill them with the knowledge that our existence in this world can be filled with the love and support we deserve.”