Human Rights Campaign to Invest in Women With New Advocacy Collaboration

The organization partnered with women’s sports advocate Kelsey Trainor for a merchandise launch

Notable women’s sports advocate Kelsey Trainor is teaming up with Human Rights Campaign for a collaboration based on her popular Invest in Women brand.

Trainor and the advocacy group’s partnership is making it unequivocally clear that all women are women. Though it’s timed to Women’s History Month in March, the campaign will continue well into the rest of the year.

Trainor’s brand popularized the slogan “Invest in Women. Pay Women. Hire Women,” which has been worn on sweatshirts and T-shirts by the likes of Dawn Staley, Sarah Spain, and NFL and NBA players around the world.

With the HRC, Trainor released two new T-shirts with the slogan, one of which uses the colors from the transgender pride flag. The new merchandise has her now-iconic message on the front, with the HRC logo and Trainor’s signature on the back.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are currently 399 anti-LGBTQ+ bills pending in the U.S., many explicitly targeting transgender people. And Trainor noted she couldn’t sit by and let that go unchecked.

“Considering there’s so much going on, there’s so much legislation against having trans women and girls in sports, I wanted to do something,” Trainor told Adweek. “HRC is doing so many amazing things across the country and the world. They’re going toe-to-toe with everything that’s happening that’s discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community.”

The collaboration came about thanks to a childhood friendship. Trainor grew up playing travel basketball outside of Philadelphia (notably in the same place where WNBA All-Star Elena Delle Donne first made a name for herself) and befriended Chantel Mattiola, who co-founded the Human Rights Campaign’s Women LEAD, an initiative to strengthen and expand the roles of women volunteers in the HRC and LGBTQ community.

“Talk about full circle—two queer girls growing up in sport together. Kelsey and I played for the same AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] basketball team from the age of 10 until college. Then we both went on to play NCAA sports. Sport taught us invaluable lessons and transferable skills that we are now both using to advocate on behalf of girls and women,” Mattiola told Adweek.

“And let me be very clear, this includes trans girls and trans women because trans girls are girls and trans women are women,” Mattiola added. “We’re using our voice and platform to say, ‘Hey, everyone deserves to show up as their full authentic self and feel safe and welcomed in doing so—in sport, in school, at work, everywhere.'”

From social media to socially conscious

Trainor’s brand doesn’t do any paid marketing around her company, instead relying on the power of social media to promote Invest in Women, which has led to more than $20,000 being donated to Black Girl Hockey Club, a nonprofit working to improve inclusion in ice hockey.

“When someone buys it, they want to spread the message,” Trainor said. “They’re posting about it on social media, and then that in turn spurs a bunch of new purchases, and it’s just this kind of neverending cycle.”

The brand was launched in partnership with PwrFwd, the marketplace for athletes to design and sell their own merchandise, and has been “a clinic in cause marketing that is also profitable,” she added.

Trainor, a lawyer by trade and the current vp of business affairs at sports betting education company Gaming Society, has bigger things planned with HRC.

“To be able to get this message out to such a broader network of people, to me, is massive,” she added. “In my small way, just offering that support and that allyship and that advocacy, to let anyone in any space who’s being discriminated against or is dealing with such hate—to let them know that there is love out there and there are people who aren’t going to stop advocating for them.”