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Meteoric mistake: Transphobia In Advertising

category national | gender and sexuality | opinion/analysis author Tuesday October 16, 2012 13:03author by Aoife Report this post to the editors

Thereís a lot of ways to advertise data plans, Iím sure. Advertising is plainly not my thing, but Iíve seen enough of it to be well aware that there are many creative ways to sell just about anything. Which is why Iím not certain why Meteor decided to do what they did. When youíve a world of possibilities to choose from, why would it seem like a good idea to mock marginalised groups of people? I canít say I get it.
Trans Murders - for more go to www.transrespect-transphobia.org
Trans Murders - for more go to www.transrespect-transphobia.org

Hereís the bit, by the way, where I let you know that there isnít a link to an ad on this post because I have no intention of either sending them any more traffic, or of littering this corner of the web with transphobic nonsense. Thatís not how I roll. However, a quick synopsis: the ad is about things you donít have to do to get online on your phone. Like biking after a wifi-enabled bus. Or sneaking around your neighbourís garden to steal their connection. Or going to your local trans and cross-dressing friendly bar.

Whatís so funny?

Because, of course, thereís no way that a person would want to be in a place like that. And a place like that is almost empty, is populated by dour-looking queens who only perk up with a predatory smile when an internet-seeking innocent comes through the door, and whose patrons manage simultaneously to be caked in several layers of makeup and to have a strangely ubiquitous five oíclock shadow.

This might be the point where you tell me that I canít take an innocent joke. If thatís the case, then this is the point where I tell you that I am entirely capable of taking a joke, as long as itís funny. This isnít funny. It plays to tired, pathetic stereotypes that Iíve heard too many times already. And itís not innocent.

Have you ever heard of trans panic? Based on the idea that trans people are somehow deceitful and predatory, the trans panic defense is something thatís been used successfully in court, time and time again, by people who have assaulted and killed trans people. An Ďinnocentí cis (Ďnot transí) person is Ďtrickedí into having sexual contact- or even being attracted to- someone they later find out to be trans. The trauma of this sends them into a murderous rage. They get off lightly. This happens.

What about suicide? Did you know that trans people are significantly more likely than cis people to self harm and to attempt suicide? This happens.

Killer joke

And these things happen because our society sees trans people, particularly trans women, as less than cis people. As deceivers. As predatory. As somehow fake and overcompensating and pathetic at the same time. And these ideas, and their widespread acceptance, make life a hell of a lot more dangerous for people who are or are perceived to be trans.

Letís get personal. I can talk about statistics or social phenomena all day. But social phenomena and statistics are things which describe real lives.

Many people who I love- dear friends, people I consider family, my gorgeous partner- are trans. People I love have been attacked, forced out of jobs, denied housing, and been driven to suicidal ideation and self-harm. While this ad is one little thing, it is a piece in a massive puzzle that combines to make a world where trans people are looked down on, villified, and victimised. The world is a more dangerous place for people I love because of things like this advertisement.

And Iím sick of it. Iím sick of knowing that I have to worry more about the people I love who are trans. Iím sick of a world that says that my partner isnít someone worth desiring or loving, that says that people like her are deceptive by their very nature, that she is somehow less of a person than me. It chills me to think of how lucky my loved ones who are trans are to not be one of the too-many people who have taken their own lives because of transphobia and cissexism. Itís not a joke when the world is made more dangerous.

While this ad doesnít directly advocate violence against trans people, it plays to precisely the same caricatures and stereotypes that do just that. And because Meteor donít seem to see trans lives as important and real, it makes a joke out of them.

Until the day when the world is every bit as safe, warm and welcoming for trans people as it is for cis ones, Iím not going to get that joke.

Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) seeks to improve conditions and advance the rights and equality of trans* people and their families. Contact them online or +353 1 873 3575

TENI Press Release: Meteor's Transphobic Ad and #MeteorShame
http://www.teni.ie/news-post.aspx?contentid=647

Letís let Meteor know this isnít okay. Tweet them at @Meteor_Mobile with the hashtag #meteorshame. Make this mistake into one they wonít forget.

Related Link: http://www.gaelick.com/2012/10/meteoric-mistake/29008/?doing_wp_cron
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