Paddy Power, the Irish bookmakers, pride themselves on the edginess of their advertising. And they’ve struck paydirt with their latest, in which we are invited to play Spot The Tranny (or, as they put it, ‘tell the stallions from the mares’) at Cheltenham Races .
There’s nothing new about women being subjected to the male gaze, of course, though its long history hardly makes it any more acceptable; but this ad goes beyond that to say that transgender women are actually men. Or, in the case of the trans* woman coming out of the men’s toilets, ‘dogs’. And invites us to judge women and categorise them as real or fake. Gender policing, much?
Cheltenham Festival have solicited opinions on the ad here. Despite responses being overwhelmingly negative, Paddy Power continue to run the ad, including on Channel 4, who, you may recall, recently signed up to the Trans Media Watch Memorandum of Understanding. Maybe the flood of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority will have more effect.
No sooner was the trans community outraged by this story, than we learned that the Beaumont Society had been consulted over the ad. Coming only a few days after it had been revealed that a Beaumont Society spokesperson had confirmed, to a Sun journalist, the existence of a trans father who had given birth; sparking a witch-hunt in which the Sun invited its readers to contact them with information on the identity of this person.
There is a perception that the Beaumont Society is a cosy haven for cross-dressers, rather out of touch with the greater trans* community. This is not entirely fair, but neither is it entirely wide of the mark. My own experience of the BS was recounted in Becoming Drusilla, and described here in this excerpt.
There are howls from the more-trans-than-thou people, always ready to seize upon any opportunity to distance themselves (the true transsexuals) from the Transgender Borg (sic). This brouhaha has done nobody any favours, least of all the Beaumont Society. It’s a shame that they should have behaved so ill-advisedly; putting it as politely as possible, perhaps it is time that they recognised that they should no longer presume to speak for the trans* community. Or, putting it another way,
Beaumont Soc, we thee implore
To go away and speak no more
But if that effort be too great,
To speak no more, at any rate.
(edit: hurrah, the ad’s been pulled. Paddy Power are being less than gracious, but hey, what do you expect?)
postscript: This was posted to Trans Media Watch by Janett Scott, of the Beaumont Society
This is an apology for the furore that I have caused by agreeing to the Paddy Power advert. It was I can see now, an error of judgement on my part as the ‘Beaumont Society’s’ Public Relations.
I will not get into what was said or not said, what was agreed or not agreed.
I will also contact the advertising company concerned with my apology, for the error of judgment on my behalf in not seeing the wider implications of how the proposed advert would be seen in the wider context of the Transgender community.
I humbly apologise for any distress caused to those who felt that the Paddy Power advert was in any way meant to be demeaning or disparaging or to compromise any ones safety in the Transgender community.
Janett Scott. Beaumont Society’s Publice Relations Office.
It seems that both Clearcast (the organisation charged with clearing ads for broadcast) and the Beaumont Society have got the message that the BS is not the ‘go-to’ organisation for advice on matters trans*. Thank you, Helen and all at TMW!