New Zealand company pulls “transphobic” advert

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Libra, a company which manufactures feminine hygiene products in Australasia, has pulled an advert after it provoked outrage among the trans community.

The company said it regretted “any offence taken” to the ad, which depicted a trans woman in a nightclub bathroom appearing to compete with a gender-normative woman in the mirror.

After each adjusts their mascara, lipstick and cleavage, the second woman produces a tampon from her handbag, causing the trans woman to leave the room with the implication that she has been beaten in the competition.

The company issued a statement earlier today saying: “Libra regrets any offence taken to our recent tampon advertisement. It was never intended to upset or offend anyone.

“Independent research was undertaken and the advertisement was viewed positively during that testing.

“Libra takes all feedback very seriously, and in response to this, we will immediately review our future position with this campaign based on the feedback received. There are no further advertisements scheduled in New Zealand.

“The advertisement has not aired in Australia. The advertisement was placed on Facebook however this has also been removed.”

The ad had been criticised by members of the trans community. Cherise Witehira, president of Agender NZ, said: “It’s extremely offensive because it’s pretty much saying the only way you can be a woman is to get your period.

“That’s where a lot of the anger in the community is coming from – it’s saying you are not a woman unless you can get your period.

“Obviously we can’t menstruate. However, we identify as female.”

A petition, signed by 1,600 people, was launched yesterday calling on the company to pull the ad and issue an apology, saying it was “very stereotypical and discriminates on so many levels against transgender woman and women of all kinds”.

A counter-petition on the site, signed by 146, calls on Libra to “keep the hilarious drag queen commercial on air”, saying those trans people who objected a clear message to the world not to depict “the humorous side” of being transgender.

It continues: “Should we hide the fact that biological women menstruate in case we hurt the feelings of all non-menstruating woman around the World?

“If Libra pull this advertisement on behalf of the transgender community they are censoring the right for people to talk openly about the modern age World where you DO pump into drag queens in the toilet at a nightclub and have a giggle at each other, or find yourself having something interesting to talk about when you leave the bathroom. [sic]”

The decision is provoking a large number of comments on the company’s Facebook page, both criticising and supporting the advert.

Some have said the character on the advert is “clearly a drag queen” and those who complained were “up in arms about nothing”.

Before Christmas, US network executives said they would meet with LGBT groups over a comedy which was drawing criticism for its depiction of men dressing as women to find work.

ABC’s Work It follows two unemployed men who have “learned the hard way that the current recession is more of a ‘man-cession’ and their skills aren’t in high demand”.