shooting yourself in both feet

gentleman of the turf

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!

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7 Responses to shooting yourself in both feet

  1. zoebrain says:

    Being fair to the Beaumont society, they were shown an innocuous script, then after getting their agreement, another one was substituted. Paddy Palin only claims they agreed in principle now.

    • Hells Bells says:

      Except that Clearcast dispute that the script approved by the Beaumont Society was materially different to the script actually used…

  2. Meg Cowie says:

    This advertisement was insulting to ALL women, born, full time, part time, whatever. Being called a ‘mare’ is an old insult.

    • Dru says:

      Quite agree, Meg; I hope I indicated that in my post. Funny (not) that as in so many things, the male version is thought complimentary (stallion) and the female insulting (mare). Unless of course ‘stallion’ is used to say, as here, that ‘you’re not really a woman’.

      • Meg Cowie says:

        Well I didn’t see any stallions of ANY type in that ad. I am, however, very proud of Cheltenham for complaining about the ad. It took real guts, because Cheltenham Gold Cup Week is what keeps the town as a whole financially afloat for the rest of the year. Cheltenham was the last place I in the UK I lived before I moved to America last year.
        BTW ‘Betnose’ is referring to this ad as ‘the finest they have ever done’, and referring to it as a bit of fun. Well we all know that ‘a bit of fun’ is bullyspeak for I think this is funny, I don’t care about you.
        I have been unable to find any links to a statement from BS (that’s becoming more and more appropriate) about this. Could you provide one? thank you.

      • Dru says:

        BS weren’t exactly shouting their apology- but I tracked it down on the TMW Facebook page, and have added it as a postscript to the post above.

        I just looked at the comments on the story on the This Is Gloucestershire page, and shuddered. Seems scarcely worth engaging with them; presumably the site is as infested with trolls as the Bristol equivalent….

        Glad to see that the Paddy ad with chavs was not cleared for broadcast; no doubt there will be further cries of ‘it’s perlitickle krekness gorn mad’, but we can live with that.

        Yes, no stallions on view in that ad. But here’s an apposite horsey description for Paddy Power, courtesy of Shakespeare:

        troubled with the lampass, infected
        with the fashions, full of wingdalls, sped with
        spavins, rayed with yellows, past cure of the fives,
        stark spoiled with the staggers, begnawn with the
        bots, swayed in the back and shoulder-shotten

  3. Pingback: talking about trans groups in the Bristol area | TransBristol

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