Further to my post last Sunday about the transphobic ad by Paddy Power, and yesterday’s overview by Jane Fae of the company’s less-than-happy history of previous advertising campaigns, the following statement has today been issued by Clearcast, the NGO which pre-approves most British television advertising:
Last week we approved a tv ad for Paddy Power featuring references to transgendered people. When making our decision to approve the ad, we took into account the fact that the advertiser had sought a view from the Beaumont Society (a body run by and for those who cross dress or are transsexual) which did not find the script idea offensive.
However following a number of complaints over the last few days, it appears that the ad has caused offence and in consultation with broadcasters, it has been decided that the ad should no longer run on their TV or VoD services in its current format. We regret offence that may have been caused.
While this news is very welcome, the damage has been done and it remains to be seen if the withdrawal of the advert on its own is an adequate response to what may now be a potentially dangerous situation for any woman, trans* or cis, who attends the event. The advert has been screened, it’s ‘out there’ now with all its faults; additionally, Paddy Power’s response seems to come from a position of petulant unrepentance, as much as from unexamined cis privilege.
As I read it, the gist of the company’s statement seems to be that the number of hits the video has received on YouTube is sufficient justification for its transphobia. Furthermore, its reliance on The Beaumont Society “for feedback on the script” is puzzling. Personally, I’m not at all convinced that it’s the “leading UK transgender group”; I’m not sure what that even means, let alone whether there is such a thing. I’d like to know who suggested Beaumont, and why – and why Paddy Power didn’t consult with any other group. At the very least, it seems to me that this whole fiasco could have been avoided altogether if Paddy Power had also entered into a dialogue with an organisation like Trans Media Watch. From my understanding, advising on this kind of media advertising campaign is well within their remit.
As for Paddy Power’s closing question “Were they right to ban us?” I think this recentring of the issue around the hurt feelings of cis privileged people is disingenuous, to say the least and there’s a far more pressing question in my mind. In the voiceover to the advert, Paddy Power state that:
[…] we’re going to make Ladies Day even more exciting by sending in some beautiful transgendered ladies.
I’d like to know if the company still proposes to do that. Their statement today is silent on the matter but, to me, it’s as much a cause for concern as the other issues. On the day (Wednesday 14th March 2012) will we see aggrieved punters roaming the course, looking for women who they think are transgender, to exact some kind of revenge for spoiling their fun (where ‘fun’ equates to their perceived liberty to consume adverts relying on transphobic tropes)? I really hope not. It would be appalling to see what’s billed as “a fabulous day out” turn into a nightmare which adds to the already unacceptably high statistics of violence against women, trans* and cis.
Trans feminist fist symbol made by Helen from images found at Wikipedia (here and here). Both original images are public domain and so is this. If using elsewhere, please ensure correct attribution.