Complaints dismissed over ‘transphobic’ Libra tampon ad
The country’s national advertising regulator has been criticised by LGBTI groups for failing to understand the concerns of transgender people after it dismissed complaints over a controversial Libra tampon ad which it was suggested could incite prejudice against the transgender community.
The ad – which depicts a blonde woman and a drag queen competitively adjusting themselves while in a nightclub bathroom – caused a furore when it originally aired in cinemas and online in Australia, while it was pulled from New Zealand television in early January following similar community outrage.
At the commercial’s end, the blonde woman removes a Libra tampon from her handbag at which point the drag queen storms out before the commercial finishes with the line “Libra gets girls”.
The ad was criticised by many for its suggestion that transgender women are not real women because they don’t menstruate, while others also thought it was demeaning to women who cannot menstruate.
In its decision, the Advertising Standards Board said that the ad “does not demean women who do not menstruate, nor does it demean or vilify transgender people and does not vilify men who dress as woman [sic]”.
The Board however did admit that there was “no way of determining” whether the drag queen character was “representative of drag queens or transgender women”.
Warren Talbot, general manager of the LGBTI Health Alliance, said that the decision to dismiss the complaints was “regrettable”, particularly in light of the reasoning of regulators.
“It wasn’t clear to me and I’m sure to the average member of the general public it would not be clear. In fact, the community at large may not be fully aware of the distinction. It is this very ambiguity which provides the potential of harm to trans women, who already battle the widespread misperception that they are ‘men’ posing as women,” Talbot said.
“They deserve our compassion and support, not the kind of ridicule this ad portrays.”
Transgender Victoria spokesperson Sally Goldner suggested that the Board members had little knowledge of transgender issues and were perhaps out of touch with community expectations.
“We think the ad standards gang are very ineffective and they have never understood transgender issues,” Goldner told Ninemsn.
Only last September, the Advertising Standards Bureau released a press statement announcing its newest members of its Advertising Standards Board while trumpeting its commitment to “representing Australia’s diversity”.
“The diversity of the board brings with it an understanding of the many different community standards which relate to decisions that need to be made by the board,” Advertising Standards Bureau CEO Fiona Jolly said at the time.
Although the board is currently made up of 20 members including the likes of filmmaker Khoa Do, actress Sibylla Budd, footballer Nathan Hindmarsh, and feminism expert, Professor JaneMaree Maher from Monash University, SX could not identify one with a lengthy background in LGBTI affairs.